It is finally the end of yet another football season, and with club football now almost three months away from resuming, now is the perfect time to cast our minds back on the year gone by and select the best and worst of the 2017/18 Manchester United campaign. All of the United writers have provided their selections for the categories, and a simple majority will decide the winner of each individual award.
Signing of the Season: Nemanja Matic
Hands down, our best signing this season has been Nemanja Matic. For only £40million we managed to acquire one of the best defensive midfielders in the league, and he’s been exactly what we have needed. For years, our midfield has struggled to cope unless Michael Carrick was at the heart of it. But now, it looks as though there may be hope going forward. Matic has not only been our best signing this season, but arguably one of our best players this year, and he did it with almost no adjustment period.
Most Improved Player of the Season: Ashley Young
I am sure I will not be the only one saying that before this season, Ashley Young was a below average fringe player at best. Now, Young provides stability and reliability in defence, particularly in big matches. Going forward, he still leaves much to be desired, but his experience and composed defending has proven crucial in many games this season. For example: during United’s win against Watford at Vicarage Road, in which he scored two sublime goals.
Player Who Should Leave the Club: Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini’s departure is well overdue, and it looks like this summer it might finally happen. With Matic now in the fold, the Belgian is as useless now as ever. He can’t defend, he can’t really attack, and my overweight dog probably has better skills on the ball. Don’t get me wrong, he has been a great plan B when we have needed it. But he’s not a United calibre player, even in the post-Fergie era.
Goal of the Season: Matic vs Crystal Palace
I’m going to have go back to our Serbian enforcer for this one. Nemanja Matic’s match-winning effort against Crystal Palace in March was awarded as United’s official goal of the season – and rightfully so. The shot itself was a thing of beauty, but the manner in which it was scored provided a level of excitement that has been few and far between this season. Match winners don’t tend to get any better than this.
Match of the Season: 2-3 vs Man City
Unlike last season, there are a number of wins in the Premier League this year over big teams that stand out to me as being some impressive United’s performances. Our 3-1 win away to Arsenal, the countless 4-0 wins at the beginning of the season and even the 2-1 win against Chelsea. But for me, and I’m sure for a lot of United fans, this year’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad is by far and away the best game of the season, perhaps for even a number of seasons. Never have I seen a United side show so much courage in adversity since Fergie’s retirement than in this game, and it reminds me why I love being a United fan. City could have secured the Premier League title against us that day at home– but they didn’t. Why? Because of a Paul Pogba masterclass and a late goal from Chris Smalling. It was a thrilling game to watch, and a thrilling win in an otherwise indifferent season.
Worst Match of the Season: Both games vs Sevilla
Following the group stage results in this season’s Champions League, United’s campaign looked promising. After winning the Europa League last year, fans were eager to see the Red Devils once again compete against some global footballing giants. Except, that never happened. After a 0-0 draw in the first leg, United went into the second at Old Trafford having to win to advance to the next round. During the game, United never took the Sevilla seriously, the only thing saving the side was Luis Muriel’s dire performance in front of goal. Then, manager Joaquín Caparrós brought on French striker Wissam Ben Yedder, and it all went downhill from there. Ben Yedder bagged two goals as United stumbled out of the Champions League, leaving fans to wonder as to why the Frenchman didn’t start in the first leg. Thankfully, for United fans, he didn’t. But that didn’t matter in the end.
Rating for this Season: 7/10
Progress has still been made from last season, but cracks are still showing. 81 points in the league is more than in some of Sir Alex’s Premier League-winning seasons, but it still was not enough to topple City. Despite a style of football that lacks inspiration, as evident in the tame crowds at Old Trafford this season, I still look back on the season with more positives than negatives. It would have been a phenomenal year if he had kept up our pre-Christmas form, but the signing of Alexis Sanchez stunted that slightly. As long as progress is being made, I’ll still consider it a decent season, but it now makes next season crucial in that we must at least challenge for the Premier League title – and even secure some more silverware.
Hopes for the Summer
I hope that Jose finally clears out all the dead wood. There are far too many players amongst our ranks who are simply not good enough for where we want to be. Also, I would like us to spend smart this summer instead of spending big. Only signing players who improve our football instead of fuelling Ed Woodward’s social media marketing machine is crucial.
Player of the Season: David De Gea
The best goalkeeper in the world, 18 clean sheets this season, another official United Player of the Year award, what more can be said? This is not like other seasons, however. Usually, De Gea has been United’s best player through others’ mistakes, a saving grace if you will. This season, there are plenty of other players who would be in contention for this award. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic would be close in my runners up list. But no player has served United so well this season than De Gea. All hail Spanish Dave!