Manchester United

Man Utd 2021/22 preview: Transfers, key player, fixtures, new kits, prediction & more

Jamie Spencer
Man Utd are now in better shape than at ant point since Sir Alex Ferguson retired
Man Utd are now in better shape than at ant point since Sir Alex Ferguson retired / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
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Manchester United start what promises to be a crunch 2021/22 season in the best shape they have been at any point since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

After being given time to build a largely new squad over the last couple of years and seeing gradual improvements in both 2020 and 2021, this is now the real test for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

New signings have added quality to areas that were previously weak and expectations are growing once more. The ultimate ambition is Premier League and Champions League glory once more, but are United strong enough to make that dream a reality this season?


Transfers

In: Tom Heaton (free), Jadon Sancho (£72.9m), Raphael Varane (£41m)

Out: Joel Castro Pereira (released), Sergio Romero (released), Nathan Bishop (loan), Tahith Chong (loan), Facundo Pellistri (loan), Axel Tuanzebe (loan)


First-team squad

1. David de Gea (GK)
2. Victor Lindelof (DF)
3. Eric Bailly (DF)
4. Phil Jones (DF)
5. Harry Maguire (DF)
6. Paul Pogba (MF)
7. Edinson Cavani (FW)
8. Juan Mata (MF)
9. Anthony Martial (FW)
10. Marcus Rashford (FW)
11. Mason Greenwood (FW)
13. Lee Grant (GK)
14. Jesse Lingard (MF)
15. Andreas Pereira (MF)
16. Amad Diallo (FW)
17. Fred (MF)
18. Bruno Fernandes (MF)
19. Raphael Varane (DF)
20. Diogo Dalot (DF)
21. Daniel James (MF)
22. Tom Heaton (GK)
23. Luke Shaw (DF)
25. Jadon Sancho (FW)
26. Dean Henderson (GK)
27. Alex Telles (DF)
29. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (DF)
31. Nemanja Matic (MF)
33. Brandon Williams (DF)
34. Donny van de Beek (MF)
36. Anthony Elanga (FW)
37. James Garner (MF)
39. Scott McTominay (MF)
43. Teden Mengi (DF)
47. Shola Shoretire (FW)


Key player

We know all about Bruno Fernandes, we know all about Paul Pogba, we assume Marcus Rashford will get to his best once he has recovered from necessary shoulder surgery, and Anthony Martial will hope to find a way to repeat his 2019/20 season rather than his 2020/21 campaign.

But Jadon Sancho is the new face among United’s attacking players and will be under an intense spotlight after it took two years to finally get him to Old Trafford.

He has never actually played in the Premier League, moving to Germany without making the first-team breakthrough at Manchester City, but the winger lit up the Bundesliga with his quality and it is hoped that he can do the same for United, plugging the longstanding hole on the right flank.


Young player to watch

Anthony Elanga
19-year-old Anthony Elanga scored his first Premier League goal in May / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Anthony Elanga broke into the first-team towards the end of last season and scored his first goal just 13 minutes into his second Premier League appearance. He has since had a role in pre-season, scoring twice in friendlies against QPR and Brentford and will hope for more chances now.

There remains a possibility that the 19-year-old will go out on loan before the transfer deadline at the end of the month, but Solskjaer has said that Elanga could yet stay and be given opportunities at United if he continues to progress at his current rate.


Fixtures

Live TV broadcasts have been chosen for games up to the end of October, other dates and/or kick-off times after that point remain subject to change.

14 August 2021 - 12:30 - Man Utd vs Leeds (BT Sport)
22 August 2021 - 14:00 - Southampton vs Man Utd (Sky Sports)
29 August 2021 - 16:30 - Wolves vs Man Utd (Sky Sports)
11 September 2021 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Newcastle
19 September 2021 - 14:30 - West Ham vs Man Utd (Sky Sports)
25 September 2021 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Aston Villa
2 October 2021 - 12:30 - Man Utd vs Everton (BT Sport)
16 October 2021 - 15:00 - Leicester vs Man Utd
24 October 2021 - 16:30 - Man Utd vs Liverpool (Sky Sports)
30 October 2021 - 17:30 - Tottenham vs Man Utd (Sky Sports)
6 November 2021 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Man City
20 November 2021 - 15:00 - Watford vs Man Utd
27 November 2021 - 15:00 - Chelsea vs Man Utd
30 November 2021 - 20:00 - Man Utd vs Arsenal
4 December 2021 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Crystal Palace
11 December 2021 - 15:00 - Norwich vs Man Utd
14 December 2021 - 19:45 - Brentford vs Man Utd
18 December 2021 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Brighton
26 December 2021 - 15:00 - Newcastle vs Man Utd
28 December 2021 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Burnley
1 January 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Wolves
15 January 2022 - 15:00 - Aston Villa vs Man Utd
22 January 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs West Ham
8 February 2022 - 19:45 - Burnley vs Man Utd
12 February 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Southampton
9 February 2022 - 15:00 - Leeds vs Man Utd
26 February 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Watford
5 March 2022 - 15:00 - Man City vs Man Utd
12 March 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Tottenham
19 March 2022 - 15:00 - Liverpool vs Man Utd
2 April 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Leicester
9 April 2022 - 15:00 - Everton vs Man Utd
16 April 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Norwich
23 April 2022 - 15:00 - Arsenal vs Man Utd
30 April 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Brentford
7 May 2022 - 15:00 - Brighton vs Man Utd
15 May 2022 - 15:00 - Man Utd vs Chelsea
22 May 2022 - 16:00 - Crystal Palace vs Man Utd


Kits

Home: Inspired by the round necks and thick sleeve cuffs of the 1960s.

Away: A throwback to the cult change strip United wore between 1990 and 1992.

Third - TBC


Prediction

With the additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, in addition to the ongoing development of the existing squad, United are better than they were last season.

Whether that is enough to topple Manchester City in the Premier League title race is unclear, but United should absolutely be much closer and at least make it into a genuine battle. Squad depth, or a lack thereof, was ultimately United’s biggest weakness last season, while it proved to be City’s greatest strength – and they have spent £100m to add Jack Grealish to the mix.

Chelsea will also be a greater force in their first full season under Thomas Tuchel and will be filled with confidence after winning the Champions League, although a minimum of second place and a serious title challenge should be the expectation for United now.

Elsewhere, getting to the Champions League knockout stages, ideally getting into the quarter or even semi-finals, would be a step forward from last season, as would winning a domestic cup.

2nd in the Premier League, Champions League quarter-finals, domestic cup win.


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