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Season Preview: United’s best shot at CL qualification comes with Europa League

Tension towards the Glazers and Ed Woodward will intensify if Manchester United don’t get results early on this season. It could get ugly, so it should, as it already looks like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the latest manager to put up with insufficient backing from the club’s board.

When Solskjaer says he’s happy with the squad going into this season I don’t believe him. He’s probably doing that because slagging off the players ala José Mourinho isn’t in his nature and it backfired last year.

Whilst in Perth for the pre-season tour, Solskjaer told the MEN“If we sell players we will have to replace them.”

READ MORE: Solskjaer confirms role for Mason Greenwood at Man Utd this season

After United failed to replace Lukaku with Paulo Dybala, Solskjaer focused on the potential of Greenwood, going back on his word about the need to replace departing players with the Belgium international leaving for Inter Milan on transfer deadline day.

We have a striker who has outscored Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford season after season, a real goalscoring threat and he will undoubtedly continue to prove that in Italy. The problem for Lukaku was he didn’t suit Solskjaer’s system and that’s fine, I quite like that the boss has a plan and is willing to focus on youth rather than spend money for the sake of it.

But the only area strengthened this summer was the defence, with the arrivals of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace and Harry Maguire from Leicester City. We finished sixth last season with a questionable midfield, have since lost Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini since then, and now not only lack quality but depth.

Scott McTominay impressed over the summer and may earn an important part in United’s midfield this season pushing for Nemanja Matic’s place, which is surely up for grabs anyway.

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United’s aim for the 2019/20 season is to finish in the top four and get back into the Champions League.

Achieving that requires consistency and there will be more teams pushing this term.

Solskjaer’s defence will concede less goals, although problems are likely to arise in the final third when United struggle to break down teams.

Daniel James impact on the team in his first season is anyone’s guess; he’s raw but extremely quick and will hurt defenders with his pace. Solskjaer said during the pre-season that the former Swansea City starlet can play in a central attacking position too.

United can clinch a top four finish if Solskjaer gets Anthony Martial and Rashford scoring goals. Injuries permitting, both players need to be hitting near 20 league goals each, which seems unrealistic given the numbers they produced last season when the attacking duo scored 10 each in the Premier League, as per WhoScored.

Paul Pogba is staying and is bound to have an influence on the side in the final third. Solskjaer has spoke about building his team around him and sources have told Stretty News he has been working closely with Wan-Bissaka, so expect the young Englishman to be fed plenty of inviting balls down the right flank, ensuring we take advantage of his blistering speed.

The Europa League comes as a time we can’t be too confident about finishing in the top four due to the many uncertainties in the squad, so Solskjaer must ensure that United are in it to win it. I think it’s our best chance at getting back into the Champions League, although it’s also an opportunity to blood young players for the future.

As for who is going to win the Premier League season, I have feeling it will be City again. A bigger margin that the 1 point they had on runners-out Liverpool last term…

However, Pep Guardiola hasn’t replaced Vincent Kompany or Leroy Sane. The former was past his best and couldn’t stay fit, but the German winger has been one of the Premier League’s most exciting players in recent years. I don’t think they’ve improved massively and Liverpool signed nobody of significance.

Second and third will be a fight between the Scousers and Tottenham, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mauricio Pochettino’s men finished above the side who beat them in the Champions League in June. They can’t afford to lose key players like Harry Kane or Son Heung-min for long periods of time.

And, finally, the magic of the cup!

Let’s hope United can muscle up a run in both the FA Cup and League Cup. We should be aiming to end every season with a trophy.

Man Utd 2019/20 predictions:

Premier League: 5th
Europa League: Winners
FA Cup: Quarter-finals
League Cup: Winners

Top scorer: Marcus Rashford
Top assists: Paul Pogba
Most improved player: Scott McTominay
Breakthrough star: Mason Greenwood

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