It’s that time of year again.
A time for hope about Manchester United’s campaign ahead. A time for Bold Predictions.
The club have brought in some reinforcements ahead of year two under Erik ten Hag and fans are hoping big things are on the horizon. Our staff being among them, here are their bold predictions for the season ahead.
Colin Damms: Manchester United are best of the rest in English football
While previewing the 2023/24 campaign on the podcast earlier this week I posed a question to Pauly and Nathan: Does Liverpool re-emerge and challenge Manchester City or do Arsenal continue on an upward trajectory?
In my mind, and of course to many others, that seems to be the big question. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were terrific down the stretch last season and come out of the the summer window with a re-tooled midfield. Arsenal collapsed despite leading the title race, but reinforced in the middle of the park themselves, signing probably the best English midfielder not named Jude Bellingham.
But as I stewed over my bold prediction I sold myself not only on the weaknesses of those two teams, but the most positive outlook on Manchester United’s current side. They’ve gotten younger, they’ve gotten deeper (especially in midfield, finally), and they’ve got a truly exciting host of attacking talent that in the right circumstances could spring the club to greater heights.
Sure, they’ve been the best of the rest twice in the past six years, and it was hardly the beginning of anything great, but this is a time for positivity, for bold predictions, and with the right amount of talent and luck (and promising young strikers delivering ahead of schedule) I think Erik ten Hag could have City in his sights sooner than predicted.
Who knows, maybe they’ll be in position to aim a little higher come squeaky bum time...
Suwaid Fazal: We’re Winning The Champions League
The third time’s the charm. I’ve made these bold predictions without really meaning them for the last two seasons, so is that the case again?
You can find that out next season.
Look, we can beat any team on our day. We showed that last season by beating the best club side at Old Trafford and pushing them close in the FA Cup final. We’ve added some players since and will improve away from home.
Why am I so certain we’ll do that? Well, we won’t be kicking the ball out every time a team pressures us because Andre Onana has made way for David De Gea. We’ve also got more legs in the midfield via Mason Mount. I hope Rasmus Hojlund comes good because anything’s possible next season if he’s the real deal: even the Champions League.
Pauly Kwestel: Fewer goals conceded, but fewer clean sheets
The 2022-23 season had one of the greatest statistical oddities of all time. Manchester United’s goalkeeper won the Golden Gloves award for the most clean sheets in the league. Yet Manchester United conceded 43 goals - 10 more than the top two teams in the league. Throughout the season it became more and more obvious that United’s Golden Glove winning goalkeeper was a problem.
Conceding 17 goals in three matches against Brentford, Manchester City, and Liverpool is certainly going to inflate the goals against column. Just preventing that from happening again will all but ensure fewer goals are conceded.
It’s not those three games United need to worry about this year. It’s all the others. Last season United greatly benefitted from their opponents having a really difficult time finding the net. United conceded 41 non-penalty goals but had an non-penalty expected goals against of 48.02.
Strip out those three blowouts and it’s 24 conceded on 40.42 xGA! Strip those three games out of David de Gea’s numbers and his PSxG-G jumps to a very solid +6.2 - that’s not exactly easy for Andre Onana to replace.
Andre Onana is going to be a game changer for United. He’s going to make United’s defense better. United will concede fewer goals, but the amount of games they concede goal in is likely to increase.
Vince Rosetta: If the club isn't sold, the same outcome as last year
Let's face it, the team being sold, not being sold, being sold, waiting to be sold drama is crazier than the transfer window. Unfortunately, if the club isn't sold, and sold soon, United will only be a top-four team (in theory).
We saw last year that United can’t compete with owners who actually care about their teams (City, Arsenal). The Glazers do just enough to get fans excited with transfers, and the fan-advisory committee BS, but not enough to actually set the team up to win.
Acquiring Mount was a good pickup, but he’s a midfielder. United needs strikers. Sancho is a flop, we can all admit that. Martial, well, don’t get me started so all the scoring is going to have to come from Rashford. Is he capable of scoring a lot of goals yes, will he, no.
Once a team puts two markers on him, he’s shut down. There isn't another striking threat so where are the goals going to come from?
I will be the first to say it, the Glazers aren't going to sell. Why on earth would they? They steal millions from the team and the product on the pitch shows that. The ownership issue is relevant to maybe 2% of the United fans worldwide.
People are going to buy United-branded products regardless of who is the owner of the team. The Glazers spend hardly anything on the team or stadium but yet get millions in return.
I went to public school, so I know I'm not that smart but if I owned something and didn't have to spend anything on that item, but yet still make millions, you better believe I wouldn't sell that item, no matter how many ineffective protests happen to get me to sell it.
In summary, my prediction, United will be a top 4 team.