In the transfer market this summer, Manchester United have strengthened in areas that were lacking and have made steps to move on players who are surplus to requirements. This feels like a normal and obvious process for any football club but sadly it is something United have struggled to do over the last decade. Under Erik ten Hag, United are started to operate like a proper club again and will be looking to build on the trophy and third-placed finish from last season.
Ahead of the new campaign, starting with our opening game against Wolves on Monday night, I spoke to some of the best journalists in the country for the RoM charity preview to find out their predictions for United in the season ahead.
Daniel Taylor, Senior football writer at The Athletic: More of the same … sorry for the slightly negative tone but, as long as Pep Guardiola is here, United will be following in City’s wing-mirrors. Maybe they can move up a place to second but Arsenal have strengthened this summer and look like they might push City just as hard for the title as last season. Can the same be said, realistically, of United?
Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer at The Times: Further development. Still third but closer. Another cup. The greatest victory would be the Glazers going.
Oliver Holt, Chief sports writer at The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday: I think United will be a better team than last season. My worry is that they will not make as much progress as some others, partly because of the ownership situation. I don’t see anyone challenging City. Arsenal have bought well and strengthened. So I think United might be looking at third again and maybe the quarters of the Champions League. If the ownership situation is finally settled some time this season, then maybe 2024-25 will be the season United finally challenge for the title again.
James Ducker, Northern football correspondent and The Daily and Sunday Telegraph: If Kane, Onana and Mount were the three arrivals and United managed to move on some of the deadwood the outlook for next season would be bright. If Ten Hag ends up having to settle for a more inexperienced, unproven centre forward there will be a greater degree of uncertainty but just having a recognised, dependable striker up top and a goalkeeper who breeds confidence, not induces panic, should make a big difference.
Oliver Kay, Senior Football Writer at The Athletic: In terms of results, similar. After a strong third-placed finish, the obvious next step is to challenge for the title; Arsenal went from 69 points from 2021-22 to 84 points in 2022-23, so you would think United would be well placed to mount a challenge after winning 75 points last season.
But … at the moment, based on their transfer business so far, I think they’ll struggle to make that kind of leap. The ownership situation clearly isn’t happening. (It never has.) Unless City’s level drops, I can’t see United challenging for the title at this point, so maybe it will become a case of challenging to be the best of the rest: second/third/fourth, maybe another cup, maybe even a decent run in the Champions League for the first time in what feels like ages.
Charlotte Duncker, Football Reporter for The Times: I’m expecting them to close the gap on Manchester City and Arsenal but likely still lose out on the title. Another cup run with a trophy is possible but looking at the squad and the ‘project’ as Ten Hag likes to refer to it could be another season of transition and progress rather than giant leaps forward to success.
Darren Lewis, Assistant editor at The Mirror and Senior sports analyst at CNN Sport: It depends on whether they add the players they need. Onana is a fine signing which should be confirmed soon. With an improved spine and an experienced striker I think United could easily cement a top four place and win another cup competition.