Top 5 United players of the season
As the curtains close on another season for Manchester United, it is time again to look back in retrospect on the past nine months.
It has been a bit of a mixed bag for United fans. While the side has secured their highest league finish since Fergie’s retirement, there are still signs that show more needs to be done to get the Reds back to their world-beating best.
As ever, there are players in the side who have stood out, though this might not necessarily mean that all of them stood out at star players in the league overall.
Here are my picks for the Top 5 Manchester United players of the 2017/18 season:
5. Ashley Young
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 10, 2018
The left-back position has always been an area of weakness in the United side since Patrice Evra left the club in 2014.
This year, Ashley Young has shown maturity that has come with his age, becoming one of United’s most reliable players in defence.
The 32-year-old has made a whopping 38 appearances in all competitions this season, including 4 man-of-the-match performances in the league.
Many fans have been urging for Luke Shaw to be given more game time, and I agree with this given how impressive he was against West Ham on Thursday night.
Until Shaw gets back to peak fitness and finally earns the trust of Jose Mourinho, however, Ashley Young is not a bad option.
Many fans still criticise Young and his style of football. I imagine this has something to do with their frustrations towards Shaw’s lack of game time.
We all remember how frustrated we were when Valencia started at right-back back in the day, now look at him.
There’s no denying that Young has proved crucial in so many big games this season. For me, he has earned his place on this list.
4. Jesse Lingard
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) April 7, 2018
In terms of breakout stars this season, Jesse Lingard would be my top pick.
After spending years as a fringe player in the United team, Lingard failed to really make an impact – other than the odd goal at Wembley. This season, however, that has all changed.
Lingard has provided back-to-back impressive performances, becoming a prominent figure in the United attack. He’s even bagged himself some absolute scorchers along the way.
14 goals and five assists in all competitions do not do it justice. Whether it’s being deployed in his familiar right-wing position or excelling in a number 10 role, Lingard’s performances have earned him a regular place in the United matchday squad.
What keeps him from being higher on my list, however, is that he still needs to work on his consistency.
More often than not, Lingard has single-handedly changed the outcomes of some games and has secured crucial points in the process.
However, he has also gone missing in a lot of the games, even with the support of Alexis Sanchez on the opposite flank.
Jose clearly has faith in Lingard, often picking him ahead of Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial much to the disappointment of the fans.
Jesse is 25 now, the age in which most wingers start to approach their prime. Next season will be a big one for Jesse, as Jose and the fans will look for more than just the occasional standout performance if United are to challenge for the title once again.
3. Romelu Lukaku
Glory to God always.. ??. thank you to all the fans again! See you next week at Old Trafford @manchesterunited pic.twitter.com/kIWo4GCN0m
— R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@RomeluLukaku9) April 22, 2018
26 goals and seven assists so far this season, not a bad debut year, eh?
Despite a quiet few months towards the end of 2017 after an impressive opening to the season, Romelu Lukaku has since proven that the £75 million United paid for the Belgian was a worthy investment for the future.
There are still people who contest that there are better strikers in the league, and they may be right. But I don’t think most United fans care.
Lukaku offers so much more than goals. His pace, strength, hold-up play, and even his play-making abilities. When he’s not scoring goals for himself, he’s delivering delightful crosses into the box for his team-mates to get on the end of.
Last season, Ibrahimovic’s tendency to drift out wide often left a gap in the middle of the park – and Ibrahimovic certainly does not strike viewers as a natural winger.
Drifting has also played a part in Lukaku’s game this season. But when he does so, it doesn’t elicit as many groans from fans.
Granted, his first touch could use a little work. But when he’s scoring as often and as frequently as he has done, who cares?
Over the past few seasons, the only strikers for United who have made similar impacts have been approaching the latter stages of their career.
Lukaku is just about to turn 25, so there’s plenty of time ahead of him. And if he continues to grow, then he could become a number nine to remember.
2. Nemanja Matic
I think we all knew who was winning this one…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 1, 2018
The signing of Nemanja Matic last summer excited and bewildered fans. £40 million for a defensive midfielder who has Premier League experience and was crucial in winning the league for Chelsea last season? Yes, please.
More so, the arrival of Matic meant that the defensive responsibilities in midfield would rest heavily on his shoulders, freeing up Pogba to pursue his more favoured free-roaming style of football.
Even though it seems Jose has only just started cementing a 4-3-3 over a 4-2-3-1 in terms of favoured systems, Matic has been there to provide stability and structure throughout.
The Serb has featured in an impressive 47 games in all competitions this season for United and has taken very little time to adjust to his new club.
There’s not much more that can be said about Matic this season. No frills, just rock-solid consistency and a reliable enforcer in midfield.
He has even won the award for United Goal of the Season for his match-winning screamer at Selhurst Park – not bad for his only goal this season.
1. David De Gea
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 10, 2018
Could it have been anyone else? His first Golden Glove, United Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year, making it into the PFA Team of the Season, and quite frankly the best goalkeeper in the world.
Spanish Dave has started every single game so far in the Premier League this season, and you would struggle to find another club on the planet where he wouldn’t have.
De Gea has quite literally ‘saved’ vital points for United again this season, and has even earned himself a place in the argument for ‘best united goalkeeper ever’.
To say that the Red Devils would be lost without him would be insulting to the caliber of player De Gea is.
I imagine the rebuilding process after both Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes’ spells at the club would have been much more challenging had United not had such a talented and reliable player between the sticks.
Inevitably, talk of him and his potential return to Madrid to play for Los Blancos will begin to resurface. Even if he does eventually leave us, wouldn’t it be great to win another league title with him in our squad?
I hope De Gea retires at Manchester, because he is, quite frankly, one of the best players I’ve seen wear the badge during my entire time as a United fan.