The final international break is out of the way so we are looking forward to the end of season.
Manchester United are involved in the race for top four and could still win the Europa League and FA Cup.
Erik ten Hag has already delivered his first trophy as United manager, beating Newcastle 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final back in February, so we get the lowdown from a range of Stretty News writers.
Starting with yours truly…
- Where do you think United will finish in the Premier League?
- Could you care less about who wins the title race this season?
- Will Ten Hag add a second trophy to his first season in charge?
- How many goals will Rashford finish on?
- Who will win United’s Player of the Year award?
- Best young player?
- Any club in the relegation dog fight that you want to go down?
Dale – Editor
1. I fancy United to finish third. We still have work to do and it’s hugely important that we go on another winning run in the Premier League. Let’s get Newcastle away checked off first, shall we?
2. I’d rather see Arsenal do it. Meh.
3. Why not? I love how Ten Hag has approached each game and competition in his first season at United. I’d go as far to describe it as reckless because the team is doing all it can to deliver on all fronts. I look at the remaining teams in the Europa League and think we could go all the way, while an FA Cup final is well within reach.
5. Marcus Rashford will probably get the award for all of his goal contributions, but Casemiro is the player who has transformed this side. The Brazilian is United’s best player.
6. There’s only one player for this in my opinion. Alejandro Garnacho, our boy wonder!
7. Relegation for Southampton would give some of the bigger clubs an opportunity to pinch their best players. That’s all well and good, but I’d really like to see Leeds go down. I wouldn’t miss Everton either.
Shaun – Writer
1. I’m confident that we will finish third. I believe the International break will be crucial in the final league standings. When every player is fit, we have a formidable starting XI. We lack reserve options, however, and an over-reliance on the same 12/13 players is telling.
2. I don’t want City to win it, that’s for sure! Arsenal has a fragrant fan base, but they are the better option, without question. The Premier League is a funny old beast. Once a decade, we get a freak winner.
3. I believe he will. This group are hungry and determined to write their names into the United history books. With two more cups within fingers’ length, I suspect we will add one more. If I had to put money on which one I think we capture, I’d guess Europe. That said, a treble of cups would be sensational!
4. He’s at 27 as I write this. Approximately 20 games left – give or take. I see no reason why he can’t add 13 more. I’ll say 40 is the magic number.
5. There are several candidates. Lisandro Martínez has been a revelation. Marcus Rashford has been in inspired form. Luke Shaw has also been imperious in multiple positions. But for me, the importance of Casemiro can not be understated. He has transformed the entire team. The Brazilian gets my vote.
6. Alejandro Garnacho for me. He has 11 goal contributions in 29 appearances across four competitions. He’s only 18! What a talent we have.
7. I’m not overly bothered. I know Leeds is the obvious answer, but it’s nice to beat them. Wolves tend to deliver nothing but frustration. They are a potential candidate.
Isabel – Writer
2. I don’t want City to three-peat like we did (twice), so I’ll have to go for the lesser of two evils and say Arsenal.
3. Ideally two more but I think the route to the FA Cup is more difficult. I’d say definitely the Europa League.
5. Marcus Rashford.
6. Alejandro Garnacho.
7. Wolves. Often a bogey team for us.
Matthew – Writer
1. I think they’ll finish a strong third. A title push isn’t on, although wasn’t too far out of reach, but I don’t fear any of the chasing pack enough to believe they’ll catch up. The only doubt I have is that the workload on the players could be a defining factor as United fight for the Europa and deal with an insane schedule.
2. I’d prefer Arsenal even in spite of them being THE rivals growing up. City never having done 3 in a row is one of the things we still have on them as fans and I’d quite like to keep it as United being the only side ever having done it. Twice.
3. I’m reticent to predict this because I don’t want to be the jinx. The FA Cup is a challenge with a tricky semi-final against Brighton leading to a likely final against City. As far as the Europa goes, I don’t fear any side left in the competition, and that’s about as much as I’m willing to give up on that.
4. He can hit 30 in all competitions. He’s just had a nice break from the drudgery of England duty (although he’d probably only have played 10 minutes and then continued to be marginalised by them), and his confidence seems completely untouchable. Even when he’s failed to score in a game, he’ll go out next time and find a way.
5. Rashford seems nailed on, but there’s stiff competition from the likes of Casemiro and Martinez. Varane has flown under the radar for me this season, nothing appears to have been made about his excellent fitness record this season and he’s been an absolute rock next to Martinez. His fall down is Casemiro and Martinez have been fighting against negative press before they’d kicked a ball. They’ve the siege mentality.
6. You’d be hard pushed to find an argument against it being Garnacho. The lad is magic. Kobbie Mainoo has had one or two encouraging cameos, so he’s certainly one to keep an eye on, and Anthony Elanga has perhaps been found out following the hype he earned last season. Garnacho has just taken bull firmly by the horns and absolutely bossed it.
7. Leeds is the obvious one, just because it’s Leeds. I’d find it utterly hilarious if it was Leicester though. The fall from grace for Rodgers is just too mouth-watering a prospect to turn down. Now Lampard has left Everton I’m less toxic towards them, and I quite like Moyes so I would be disappointed for him if West Ham went down. I think Leicester win it for the funny factor.
Brian – Writer
1. Although if he hoping for 3rd, as long as we finish the season with CL qualification via finishing winter 3rd or 4th I’ll be content.
2. Yeah, of course I could, as much as I can’t stand Arsenal, can’t have the Bertie’s doing 3 in a row can we? Lesser of two evils.
4. Reckon he bags another 10.
5. Rashford surely?
6. Garnacho, potentially naming my next son Alejandro
7. Leeds are one that has me torn, belter of an away day, cracking home game, but can’t stand them. I’d like to see Everton go down, funnily enough.
Vatsal – Writer
1. Third. Newcastle United are the club’s closest challengers, three points behind on the same games played. Manchester United play in three competitions so fatigue will be a challenge. Still, if United have slipped from third at the end of the season, something will have gone very wrong.
Looking upwards, a title race is out of the question.
2. Yes, in the unlikely event that Manchester United do make things interesting. Otherwise no. United fans have been treated to the ultimate shame the last few years when the title race has been between Liverpool and Manchester City. This is the absolute worst case and Arsenal aren’t much of a relief in that regard. No matter who wins the title this season, United need to make sure they’re in the conversation next season.
3. Any United fan would have bitten your hand off for a trophy and a top four finish at the beginning of the season. This question even being a realistic prospect is a testament to the turnaround Ten Hag has engineered at the club. United have to be considered favourites for the Europa League trophy after Arsenal’s shock elimination. Juventus and Mourinho’s Roma are other main threats barring any upsets. FA Cup is trickier still with their path going through a stiff Brighton side and a potential Manchester Derby in the final. However, the prospect of at least two trophies is very realistic, which could be three if things break right.
4. Ten Hag has been at pains to remind everyone he claimed earlier that United do have players who can score 30 goals in the season. At the current rate, Rashford might surpass that in the next week itself. The Mancunian is already at 27 goals in all competitions in 44 games. With a maximum of 21 games more to be played, United could be looking at their first 40 goals-a-season striker since Cristiano Ronaldo did it all the way back in 2007/08 with 42. Anything above 40 would depend on Rashford hitting another purple patch.
5. Marcus Rashford has been the talisman of this side, supplying the majority of goals while adding new facets to his game. He will undoubtedly win the Player of the Year awards. Other than Rashford, honorable mentions should go to Casemiro, whose presence has transformed United’s midfield, or the ever-present Bruno Fernandes, who has all but confirmed his captaincy status at the club. Lisandro Martinez has also shaken up a brittle United defence as all of Ten Hag’s signings have played a major role this season.
6. Alejandro Garnacho. United went into the season with a very thin attacking line. This was the ideal opportunity for young attackers in the youth squads to make a name for themselves as is the culture at the club. The youngster has done just that, and much more. The fearlessness with which the 18-year-old attacked his man brought a new dimension to United’s attack. His playing style has been the most encouraging thing this season, as has his output. Ten Hag encouraged him to make the most of the positions he got himself in, and he has been rewarded with five goals and six assists in 32 games across all competitions. The teenager did not look out of place in the senior set-up before his injury. His new contract is on the top of United’s agenda now and with his trajectory, United will have a world-beater on their hands in the next 2-3 years.
7. As a matter of principle, I never pray for any club to get relegated unless Manchester City or Liverpool find themselves there one day. Still, from the current lot, Southampton going down could open up some interesting transfer opportunities for United. James Ward-Prowse would immediately become a wanted man, Romeo Lavia is a superstar-in-waiting, and United could do a lot worse than Armel Bell-Kotchap and Mohammed Salisu to strengthen their backline. Not many would have predicted this to be Southampton’s predicament, but from a purely selfish point of view, their relegation would be most advantageous to the existing elite.
Mike – Writer
1. Third (just scraping it ahead of a thoroughly incompetent chasing pack).
2. I have a passing hope that Arsenal triumph this season because it will demonstrate that taking a farsighted approach to squad building and player development can sometimes win out over infinite money. The one downside is that Arteta is almost as irritating as his mentor Baldiola.
3. Yes, the club will capture the Europa League for the second time, I think the FA may be too much of a stretch if City are still in it.
5. Marcus Rashford.
6. Is this even a debate? Alejandro Garnacho has made a significant impact this season, and if he avoids the pitfalls and idiotic behaviour of a currently suspended United starlet could be one of the best players in the world.
7. Crystal Palace. Be gone and never darken our doors again. However you can leave Michael Olise with us on your way out thanks.
Phillip – Writer
1. Third. Hopefully we’ll hold off Newcastle in the race for this position. Tottenham are a car crash, Liverpool got their trophy already and the likes of Brighton and Brentford won’t have enough. The next few games without Casemiro will tell a lot though.
2. Couldn’t give a rat’s ass. It would be good for someone other than Liverpool or City to do it but Arsenal fans are getting insufferable already. Next years fingers crossed…
3. A second? Hopefully a third. Reckon we can take City in a final in a once off game. The Europa League will be tough given the level of competition. At least we can’t play another Spanish side.
4. Hopefully he can hit 40 overall. Think he is on 27 or 28 at the moment so given the amount of games we have left I think he can come pretty close.
5. At least we have some fucking competition this year! Plenty of contenders this season but my choice would be Carlos Henrique Casimiro. He has it all and it shows when he was missing.
6. Alejandro Garnacho seems to be showing us glimpses of the exciting talent we all heard we could be.
7. Oh so many. Would be great to see Leeds United, Everton and West Ham getting dragged down. Those ‘orrible bunch of ****** would deserve it. Seems that Bournemouth and Southampton are goners with Crystal Palace sleep-walking towards relegation instead.
Fabiola – Writer
1. While most would settle for a third-place finish, I personally think United will finish second. This team has proven that they can take their chances and a second-place finish is still very much possible.
2. Honestly, no. I am happy with the way United are playing and how Ten Hag has the vision to send this team forward. City and Arsenal don’t matter to me, United do.
3. Given the chances we have; I think we are on the right track to win the Europa League and the FA Cup. Ten Hag has proven time and time again this season that he knows how to get things done; so, 2 more trophies for United.
4. At this rate, Rashford could easily go and score 40 goals overall. He already 27 goals and given his statistics after the World Cup, there’s no denying that this is a figure he could reach with no problem.
5. Well, this year there have been some top performers at the club. However, Marcus Rashford’s exceptional performance and goal tally have won the race for him. Easily.
6. This question has only clear answer and that is Alejandro Garnacho. Big game player, doesn’t shy away from a big game and has been one of Erik’s secret weapons when coming out from the bench. He is hardworking and last year’s performances in the FA Youth Cup were just the start.
7. No specific preferences, but watching Leeds United go down would be awesome.
James – Writer
2. Rather City win as nobody cares about them and I still hate Arsenal from the late 90’s.
3. Europa League as FA Cup will be very tough.
5. Rashford but would love to see Martinez get it if not.
7. Leicester, never liked Rodgers.