Manchester United season review 2021-22: SN writers give their best and worst verdicts

Thankfully the season is over.

As editor of Stretty News, I want to thank all of the Reds who have read the blog this season.

In strange, tough times, we’ve done our best to bring you everything you need to know about Manchester United.

I’m already thinking about next season (in a good way!).

Hopefully we can end Erik ten Hag’s first campaign on a better note.

Without further ado, I’ve rounded up the writers to give their final verdicts on the 2021/22 season.

Dale O’Donnell, editor

Season rating: 2/10.

Best performance of the season: First game of the season, winning 5-1 against Leeds. Now that I think back, it may have been the case that Leeds were so crap that they made us look good…

Player of the season: Ronaldo. Although his homecoming did not go to plan this season, I believe Ronaldo silenced a lot of critics, especially those who said he was too old for the Premier League. Imagine where we would have ended up without his goals?

Player who should be moved on: Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Worst moment of the season: Losing 5-0 to Liverpool at home.

Rangnick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: Unfortunately, the players threw the towel in and  Solskjaer’s job became untenable, but the results didn’t pick up under Rangnick. Ten Hag has a huge job on his hands and I am excited to see if he can build an identity on the pitch.

One observation to take into next season (on/off the pitch): Come up with a better contract strategy going forward. We are now making mistakes that Arsenal made years ago due to incompetence. In hindsight, why didn’t we cash in on Pogba and Lingard last year?

Brian Murphy, writer

Season rating: 1/10 – one point granted because we actually finished out the season and don’t just sack it all off.

Best performance of the season: Leeds at home. It was the moment we all placed a nifty fifty on United winning the league at 8/1, we were back and there was nothing anybody could do about it. That is expect for the managers, the players, the staff and the owners, they had different plans for us.

Player of the season: It’s quite obviously Ronaldo. I’m no massive fan of the man who once claimed we treated him as a “slave”, but credit where it’s due, he embarrassed teammates much his junior with effort and output. A rare upside to the season.

Player who should be moved on: Surely this should be plural and plentiful, but I’d I have to choose just the one: Paul Pogba. Took the fans for a ride for the last number of years, publicly lambasted the club via the medium of his agent and was an all round disaster, more focused on taking photos with Steph Curry than putting in a shift to try get 3 points. Au revoir.

Worst moment of the season? Toss up between being standing in Anfield watching us get absolutely mauled as our arch enemies took the proverbial Michael out of us, or when the fourth went in at the Amex, and the realisation that the majority of the team simply couldn’t care less about any one of us fans.

Rangnick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: Rangnick was a masterclass in failure by the club. An interim manager? Dear lord… akin to a substitute teacher in school, zero respect shown by the players, his only defence was to throw them under the bus with the press and they reacted in kind by throwing (yet another) manager under the bus on the pitch with their lack of performance.

One observation to take into next season: It’s time to take the power back from the players, they’ve had their cake and are it for far too long. The age old adage that no player is bigger than the club needs to be hammered home to them, if that means cutting our losses with some notable names as sacrificial lambs and making an example of them, I’m all for it.

Fabiola Cejku, writer

Season rating: 2/10. This is generous given the horrendous season we’ve had. Objectives not achieved and two managers failed. I am glad the season is over.

Best performance of the season: Our first game against Leeds, everything seemed like it was finally heading in the right direction, Pogba and Bruno were right on point, finally a deadly duo in the making. How wrong were we?

Player of the season: Ronaldo. Many went to the point that he was problem, obviously they have not watched us all season. If it weren’t for his goals, I am not sure where we would end up honestly.

Player who should be moved on: We should have sold Lingard when we had the chance. I don’t know whether he has been leaking information as some reports claim, but he is an academy product and the level of disrespect from him and his brother is shameless.

Worst moment of the season? The game against Liverpool at Old Trafford. I can describe it as heartbreaking, shameful, terrible and the moment I felt that this season had to end there. No words, just pain.

Rangnick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: Instantly felt that were doing the wrong thing by sacking Ole, I was right because nothing hanged. However, I felt that we needed someone like Rangnick so he could tear everyone’s excuses apart with those honest conferences. It’s not what we paid him for, but it made it a lot of sense to understand who the real problem was.

One observation to take into next season: Never trust players who have thrown managers under the bus and also defensive football is not Manchester United’s style. It never was, it will never be.

Shaun Connolly, writer and Strettycast regular

Season rating: 2/10.

Best performance of the season: It has to be the 5-1 at home to Leeds. If you can’t enjoy that, why bother? 

Player of the season: Ronaldo. He’s the best of an awful bunch.

Player who should be moved on: David de Gea

Embed from Getty Images

Worst moment of the season? The 5-0 at home to Liverpool. 

Rangnick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: I think it’s obvious that the Rangnick experiment was a failure. I’m very much looking forward to ten Hag getting his teeth stuck in. 

One observation to take into next season: Our supporters are second to none! We have the best support in the league. I know social media can get a bit nasty but the amount of bodies that continue to fill the grounds is remarkable. We have a genuine 12th man. 

Matt Henderson, writer

Season rating: A tepid and fully deserved, 2/10. I think the most exciting it got was when Ronaldo decided he was going to be, Ronaldo, and scored hat-tricks and the like.

Best performance of the season: Hmm. Strangely, Pogba vs Leeds first day is up there. 4 assists. But I think simply for everything going on at the time, Ronaldo vs Norwich.

Player of the season: Tough one, because I love Fred and nobody has really shone. But to be quite honest, Ronaldo does it again. At 37. Makes a change from Dave (2nd in the running) I suppose.

Player who should be moved on: Player most needed to be that isn’t likely is Rashford. For the good of everyone involved. It’s never nice when a talent like him doesn’t work out, but it seems to be the case here.

Worst moment of the season: Maguire shouting for a handball when it was Matic whose arm it hit, the ten Hag chant or the van de Beek chant vs City only for him to appear and have 3 touches.

Rangnick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: Rangnick was necessary. Disappointing, but necessary. Ten Hag now has the full picture and hopefully is astute enough to steer the ship back go glory. Liverpool couldn’t do the Quad but we will next season.

One observation to take into next season: Off the pitch – other people’s misery isn’t as great as you want it to be. On the pitch – just try. It’s all we want is effort. And you might lose, you might get battered, but if there’s effort there it will be forgiven.

Mike Knight, writer and Strettycast regular

Season rating: 1/10. A thoroughly miserable season with no major positives. This is factually the worst United team in thirty years and arguably the most craven group of mercenaries in memory. The only positives are there is now no excuses to hide behind for anyone with a major restructuring of the club underway. That gives us a one-out-of-ten rather than a zero.

Best performance of the season: The opening day 5-1 win over Leeds United. A fabulous curtain raiser to the season with palpable sense of expectation in the air amongst a delirious post-covid capacity crowd. Oh, if we were only aware of the horrors that awaited us.

Player of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo – A man who should never have been signed but the Glazer family wanted social media traffic and merchandise sales. Nevertheless, Ronaldo, along with David de Gea, was the only player who looked like he cared and seemingly disgusted with the lack of professional standards of his teammates. He’s one of only a handful of players who have earned the right to stay at the club next season by virtue of actually trying.

Player who should be moved on: Where to start?! Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Edison Cavani are doing everybody a favour by exiting stage left. Nevertheless, it will be sad to see Juan Mata leave after United wasted a substantial chunk of his career, but realistically seven or eight players should be following those names. United need to move on Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Arran Wan-Bissaka, Dean Henderson and Anthony Martial as soon as possible. There should also be earnest questions asked of Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay and whether they are of the sufficient standard or character to be a part of a committed rebuild.

Worst moment of the season: This is a highly competitive category but the 4-0 defeat at Anfield arguably felt worse than the 5-0 shellacking Liverpool handed us at Old Trafford. Watching a star player suspiciously claim “injury” ten minutes in, to Thiago openly mocking United by the end, was my worst day as a United fan and demonstrated the club’s commitment to plumbing new depths on a weekly basis.

Manager verdict: Ole Gunnar Solsksjaer’s time was always going to end badly with the lack of organisation, and it duly did. Ralf Rangnick, despite some promising glimmers of a cohesive unit early on, was ultimately a failure. Why United chose to bring in a man who specialised in building or rebuilding clubs on an interim basis with no real power is beyond me. Hopefully, Erik ten Hag will be listened to and properly supported to do his job, as his talent and ambition deserve.

One observation to take into next season: Have a cohesive structure for squad building with holistic long-term thinking. Both City and Liverpool have had the same manager in place for several years now with a joined-up approach to signing players and developing their own. Even smaller clubs such as Brighton and Brentford have shown what can be achieved with smart, concise strategy. There is plenty United can learn from these comparative minnows as there is with the other big clubs.

Phillip Morrissey, writer

Season rating: 5/10. I can’t give it higher than that. One of the worse performances in terms of goals scored, lack of clean sheets and points total. We finished sixth but that was by default. Early exits with home defeats in the League Cup, Champions League and FA Cup did not help either.

Best performance of the season: Arsenal at home had a great atmosphere, really enjoyed the first game under Ralf with a win against Palace, a double against Spurs but probably has to be the opening day win against Leeds. Hope. That horrible unrealised hope.

Player of the season: Dave has done well, Ronaldo has obviously scored a shed load of goals at important times, Sancho impressed in spells, but I would have to go for Fred. Not flashy which makes him a target for fan cam twats. What he does provide is energy, enthusiasm, passion and love for the cause.

Embed from Getty Images

Player who should be moved on: Take your pick from Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Eric Bailly, Lee Grant, Andreas Pereira, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles or Diogo Dalot. Juan Mata, Nemenja Matic and Edison Cavani all look to have played their final match as they are out of contract. Others may well be nervous of their position.

Worst moment of the season: Plenty of terrible moments in a terrible season, but you can’t look further than the home game against Liverpool. We had looked shaky defensively in the previous few games but was a whole new level of bad. The scousers netted four times before half-time and eased up to win 5-0. Ole was finished after this game.

Happy with your manager: I would have to say no. The tactical plan that Ole had seemed to have hit the skids early on as we fell apart defensively in many games. He looked lost after those heavy losses that cost his job. Carrick did well enough. I don’t think the players were able or willing to adjust to Ralf’s style and he seemed to be just there to take notes.

One learning for next season: We need a pair of full-backs who know how to defend and venture beyond the half-way line, a proper defensive midfielder to retain possession and dictate the pace of the game, and forwards to take advantage of the chances we created. Straight forward innit.

James Gorse, writer

Season rating: 5/10. We didn’t qualify for champions league and it was just us killing time until the end of the season. Just bang average.

Best performance of the season: Leeds at home, brilliant start to the season with Varane unveiled before the game. Scored a few great goals and left thinking this was the start of something… how wrong was I?

Player of the season: Jadon Sancho. It’s easy to pick Ronaldo or Fred but, even though he had a slow start, Sancho went on to show flashes of becoming a really fan favourite. He will come good next season.

Player who should be moved on: Too many to pick from but i am going to go with Victor Lindelof, i just don’t see him becoming the player we need to win the league. His lack of physicality at times is pretty bad and has cost us.

Worst performance of the season: Hands down the 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool, losing to them is bad at the best of times but they showed how far away they are from us and it was embarrassing.

Rannick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: Very Happy with Ten Hag, an up and coming coach who has something about him. He plays good football and isn’t afraid of upsetting people to get what he wants and we have been too soft lately.

One observation to take into next season: Next season I want our players to be a little more street smart, we are far too easy to play against and we have no game management so if ten Hag solves this then i will be very happy.

Perry Watkins, writer

Season rating: 2/10.

Best performance of the season: Ronaldo vs Spurs.

Player of the season: Ronaldo.

Player who should be moved on: Rashford

Worst moment of the season: You can pick. There’s too many for me to remember! I’d say the Brighton drubbing was a particularly low point!

Rangnick review and looking ahead to Ten Hag: Rangnick has been a major failure but it’s hard to imagine anyone else coming in as an interim doing any better. Players not interested.

One observation to take into next season: Not convinced Bruno Fernandes will like life under Ten Hag. Unless he’s the main man, he isn’t interested.

More Stories Cristiano Ronaldo David de Gea Erik ten Hag Fred Jadon Sancho Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Paul Pogba Ralf Rangnick Raphael Varane