Conceding the second least goals in the league and scoring the fifth most goals in the league this season, with one game left how can Manchester United improve next year? On the face of it the simple answer is to score more goals, after all Manchester United are 38 goals behind Manchester City and that has proved the difference this season as Manchester City have only conceded one less goal than Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Antonio Conte and Claudio Ranieri have dominated the Premier League over the past 10 years with a counter attacking style of football. However, this season has provided a pivotal turning point in showing that defensive football is dead and free-flowing attacking football will reign for years to come. This is compounded by the relegation of Stoke City and West Brom who have thrived over the past few seasons having an organised and well-disciplined team. Whilst that can get you some of the way it is no longer enough.
Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United’s key marksman, has scored 16 goals this season some way behind Mohamed Salah (31) and Harry Kane (27). Interestingly Manchester City’s top scorer Sergio Aguero (21) is some way behind these as well but goals are equally distributed throughout the team with Manchester City breaking the 100 goal barrier as opposed to Manchester United’s return of 67.
To end Manchester United’s league title drought Jose Mourinho needs to offer more than well-structured disciplined teams and provide that extra creative spark that has become synonymous with their city rivals. It’s now time for a tactical evolution at Manchester United, the first move would be to push Paul Pogba further forward and release him from his defensive responsibilities. Both at Juventus and France, he is far more influential in a less defensive role and his friendship with Romelu Lukaku could bring back memories of famous partnerships of Yorke and Cole or looking further a a field Shearer and Sutton during Blackburn Rovers title triumph.
While Paul Pogba will help to unlock the door of well-disciplined defences, Romelu Lukaku’s expected goals is third highest in the division behind Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane and providing him with more chances will be crucial in their success. The additional of an attacking wide player will support this and the rumours of Gareth Bale or Antoine Griezmann can only create a positive outlook for Manchester United supporters.
Overall, the talent is already at Manchester United and there is not a need for a major overhaul of the squad in the summer. What is needed, is a change in tactical approach by Jose Mourinho and why that may result in some small tweaks to his disciplined approach it could reap dividends come the end of next season.