Manchester United’s year can be best summed up by Gennaro Gattuso’s famous “sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe s***” quote.
For the Red Devils faithful, it has been a year of relentlessly being given hope and then having it snatched away whenever it appeared the “glory days” were close to being restored.
From European cup finals, legendary signings and manager sackings, 2021 was never boring from the stands at Old Trafford – excruciating at times – but never boring.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking last month was potentially the biggest moment of the year for the club as the Norwegian finally bore the brunt of some dreadful form which United had been carrying for months.
Solskjaer’s Man United tenure always seemed a few defeats away from sparking major questions surrounding the club’s hierarchy and ambition, though the 48-year-old enjoyed some highs this year too.
Bruno Fernandes was absolutely unplayable for the first half of the year as the Portugal international scored and assisted at will.
Helped by a resurgence from left-back Luke Shaw, Fernandes propelled United to a respectable second place in the Premier League, their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Bruno also notched a crucial five goals and four assists to take his side to the Europa League final after United were knocked out of the Champions League, where he had scored four.
Do you think Man United should have achieved more with the quality of players in the squad? Let us know in the comments section.
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Unfortunately for Solskjaer and his men, United were unable to clinch the first title of his tenure in a dismal final against Villarreal, where David de Gea made headlines for not saving a single penalty out of 11 attempts and eventually missed his own spot-kick during sudden death.
The failure in Gdansk was to be put right after the Glazers backed Ed Woodward on a number of big summer signings that included Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, Jadon Sancho for £73million and the return of Old Trafford royalty in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Things took an unexpected turn after the summer when, following a brief period of dominance, United began to suffer as a result of lacklustre defending and a lack of ideas going forward.
Key personnel such as Harry Maguire have been hugely inconsistent this season while Aaaron Wan-Bissaka appears to have regressed since his £45million move from Crystal Palace.
Big money signings like Sancho and Donny van de Beek failed to get so much as a sniff under Solskjaer and therefore looked a shadow of their former selves on the few occasions they were brought on to rescue the team from defeat.
With Fernandes’ form also suffering, Ronaldo has been the only consistent performer this campaign by netting 13 goals at the age of 36.
With Ralf Rangnick now appointed as manager, we will have to wait and see who will be the winners and losers of the German’s famously fast-paced philosophy next year.
Here are the 2021 grades for the entire squad:
David de Gea – C
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – D
Diogo Dalot – B
Victor Lindelof – C
Raphael Varane – C
Harry Maguire – D
Eric Bailly – D
Luke Shaw – B
Alex Telles – C
Fred – B
Scott McTominay – B
Nemanja Matic – D
Donny van de Beek – E
Jesse Lingard – C
Bruno Fernandes – A
Jadon Sancho – D
Daniel James – E
Anthony Martial – F
Mason Greenwood – B
Marcus Rashford – C
Edinson Cavani – C
Cristiano Ronaldo – A+
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