Manchester United were a classic case-study for the much-discussed “new manager bounce” phenomenon last season. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer United’s fortunes peaked enormously before troughing with just as much vigour. How they get on in the 2019/20 campaign will depend largely on their key players; most of whom we’ll touch on in this Manchester United FPL team guide.
The idea that Manchester United are still enduring a post-Ferguson slumber is surely outdated by now. The Red Devils have recovered from their hangover, only to find that something fundamental is missing. Luckily for them, they’ve still got their wallet. Though buying players doesn’t necessarily rejuvenate a club, it certainly gives them the means to.
Can new acquisitions like Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James turn United’s fortunes? Or is this the year that Ferguson’s legacy is buried once and for all?
What style of football do Manchester United play?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will see his defence as the most in need of rebuilding, but the overall mentality of the side is a problem that desperately needs addressing.
The lack of leadership was evident last season, both under Jose Mourinho and now Solskjaer. On paper, however, United have a squad that could be one of the most dangerous in attacking transition. Paul Pogba’s passing capabilities are matched by an array of young, pacey talent in the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James. Their speed and directness is crucial for creating the width and dynamism needed to break down opponents.
Solskjaer has done well in showcasing his tactical flexibility, opting for different systems such as a 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2 and a 4-2-3-1 across his half a season at Old Trafford. He also alternated between tactical approaches, from possession-based play to counter-attacking football.
However, there are still gaping holes within United’s squad that need filling. They’ve gone some way to doing this with 2 marquee signings: the incredibly promising Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the experienced ball-playing centre back Harry Maguire. A player who can replace the work rate and coverage that Ander Herrera provided would be a useful acquisition too.
The attacking midfield position is another area where United could look to improve. Pogba provides an obvious outlet, but the likes of Mata and Jesse Lingard have been frustratingly inconsistent.
The fact that United only scored 4 headed goals in the league last season – the lowest of any team – must be a worry for Solskjaer. A more effective target man could add another dimension to their attacking play, but the arrival of Harry Maguire might also contribute to remedying that issue.
Last season’s key statistics
Ranking worst amongst the top six for clean sheets (7) and goals conceded (54) last season, Man United will be hoping a full pre-season supervised by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will go a long way in reviving a once dependable defence.
Although United’s defence faltered massivey with clean sheets dropping by 12, they actually recorded a higher xG (62) than the previous season (56), despite scoring three fewer. They also had more big chances (65) and attempts (526) throughout the season, but had significantly less touches in the final third.
FPL fixture difficulty
The table above shows the fixture difficulty of Manchester United’s opening six matches, as determined by our clean sheet tracker and attacking tracker. These difficulty trackers are based on last seasons home/away specific performance statistics. Newly promoted sides statistics have been weighted according to their transitional value.
Who takes penalties for Manchester United?
Accordingly to our data, Paul Pogba is designated penalty taker for Leicester. Marcus Rashford is 2nd choice.
Which Manchester United players to pick on FPL?
Manchester United are an intriguing FPL entity ahead of the 2019/20 campaign. In just a few seasons, they’ve transitioned from a trove of fantasy potential to one of the few neglected top six sides.
But neglect is not necessarily a bad thing for FPL managers looking to add some variety to their Gameweek 1 line-ups. There is still plenty of potential at Manchester United: it’s just a little cheaper now.
The fact that David de Gea, once in a category of his own, is now priced at £5.5m should already be getting your juices flowing. The Spaniard was susceptible to some uncharacteristic errors last season, but his quality remains undeniable. 122 saves despite a fractious 18/19 season put him top for total number of save points for goalkeepers priced £5.0m or more.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) might be the third most owned defender in the game at the moment, but without the promise of prolific attacking returns or consistent clean sheets, many managers are searching elsewhere for defensive assets.
United’s midfield is more exciting. Anthony Martial has turned heads after another impressive pre-season. At £7.5m, his FPL points-per-90 last season was higher than Mohamed Salah’s. Could he build on the 10 goals and 4 assists he managed in 2018/19?
Paul Pogba (£8.5m) enjoyed his most fruitful FPL campaign last season, racking up 179 points – the majority of which came under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s management. If he stays at the club, he might well represent fantastic value in that upper-mid priced midfielder bracket.
Also overlooked is Marcus Rashford (£8.5m), who looks assured of minutes next season. The youngster is owned by less than 17% of FPL managers at the time of writing, but 17 attacking returns in just 2331 minutes last season bodes very well for him. If Pogba departs, he could well find himself on penalties too.
Notable mentions should go to newcomer Daniel James (£6.0m), who has impressed in preseason, and everyone’s favourite £4.5m enabler, Mason Greenwood. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a young, bargain-basement prospect excel before being omitted from the first team (Hudson-Odoi last season, anyone?), but with Solskjaer’s penchant for nurturing young talent, Greenwood could well be the best option in a limited price bracket.