2021/22 was a season to forget for Manchester United. The Red Devils ended their campaign with a rather flat 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace as new boss Erik ten Hag looked on from the stands.
The Dutchman, if he wasn’t already, will now be well aware of the mammoth tasking facing him at Old Trafford heading into next season.
For now, though, 101 have taken a look back at Manchester United’s 2021/22 campaign.
Player of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo
Given the woeful nature of Manchester United’s 2021/22, there were not exactly a lot of choices for Player of the Season.
Fred has improved a great deal over the last six months whilst David de Gea, as he often does when United are at their worst, pulled out a number of quality displays lightyears above the rest of his defence.
In truth, though, there was only really ever one choice for this. Cristiano Ronaldo, despite his age, scored 18 and assisted three in 30 Premier League outings this term.
The Portuguese also scored six in seven Champions League ties, with his remarkable goalscoring in the group stage the only reason the Red Devils even made it to the last-16.
Young player of the season: Anthony Elanga
Like with the POTS, Manchester United did not produce a lot of options for their Young Player of the Season award.
Jadon Sancho had a tough time during his first season back in England whilst Diogo Dalot showed patches of quality but did not exactly set the world alight.
So, given the limited options, Anthony Elanga has probably done enough to be named Manchester United’s Young Player of the Season.
The now 20-year-old scored a key goal off the bench vs Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last-16. He also netted two and assisted two in the league, with his drive and desire to win back the ball making him a favourite of Ralf Rangnick.
Goal of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo vs Tottenham
Manchester United’s Goal of the Season must go to Cristiano Ronaldo, which is not surprising considering he scored the majority of Manchester United’s goals this term.
CR7’s best, though, came vs Tottenham back in March. United desperately needed to win the game to keep their fading Champions League hopes alive.
They did so by a scoreline of 3-2, with Ronaldo scoring all three. It was his opening effort, however, which was by far and away his best of the day and the season:
An absolute thunderbolt ⚡️
Cristiano Ronaldo’s long-range strike against Spurs is your @budfootball Goal of the Month for March #PLAwards | @Cristiano pic.twitter.com/8GX5IEJ5o1
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 1, 2022
Signing of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United made three senior signings in 2021/22. Jadon Sancho joined from Borussia Dortmund, Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus.
In truth, all three players had the potential to be Manchester United’s signing of the season.
However, as you may already be able to tell from the rest of this review, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only one who performed anywhere close to the level expected of him which, obviously, makes him United’s signing of the season.
Flop of the season: Jadon Sancho
Flop is a strong word to describe Jadon Sancho as a player because he is still only 22 and expected to come good for Manchester United with the right manager and system around him.
However, few can really argue that 2021/22 has not been a massive disappointment from Sancho’s perspective.
The 22-year-old was brought to Old Trafford for £72m over the summer, a fee that, given how well he had previously performed for Borussia Dortmund, seemed fairly reasonable at the time.
But, in 38 outings for the Manchester outfit this term, Sancho scored just five and assisted three. In comparison, he scored 16 and assisted 20 in 38 games for BVB in 2020/21, assisted 20 and scored 20 in 44 games the season before that and, in 2018/19, scored 13 and assisted 20 in 43 matches.
Did Manchester United meet expectations?
No, absolutely not. Manchester United finished 2nd in 2020/21 and, after bringing in three world-class talents over the summer, were expected to challenge the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Instead, Manchester United scrapped 6th-place in the Premier League, finished the season with their lowest-ever points total in the competition’s history, crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Middlesbrough, exited the League Cup in the 3rd round and lost to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last-16 after being dragged out of a fairly easy group by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Where do Manchester United need to strengthen?
In an ideal world, Manchester United would have a massive squad clear out and bring in eight-10 new players.
That is obviously not happening in one summer, though, so they should instead focus on signing a proper defensive midfielder, a centre-forward to rotate with Ronaldo and a new central defender.