The best thing we can say about Manchester United’s 2021/22 season is that it’s over.
The Red Devils had an absolutely disasterous campaign which has resigned them to another season of Europa League football and set them up for what feels like their 20th rebuild in the last five years.
It was a memorable season for all the wrong reasons at Old Trafford, but here’s a deep dive on what the 2021/22 campaign had to offer for Man Utd.
This wasn’t even a particularly impressive campaign by Ronaldo’s lofty standards, but United would have been absolutely lost without him.
The Portugal international racked up 18 Premier League goals and added a further six in the Champions League, with his work in front of goal undoubtedly to thank for United actually managing to finish in the top half of the table.
He’ll demand more of himself next season, but Ronaldo was still on top of the throne at Old Trafford.
Honourable mention: David de Gea
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Tottenham
The perfect example of Ronaldo saving the day for United came in March’s 3-2 win over Tottenham. The Red Devils weren’t the better side at all but, in Ronaldo, they had the better player.
Just 12 minutes into the game, he blasted home a screamer from well outside the box that was so good that it distracted attention away from the glorious flick from Fred that made it possible in the first place.
Ronaldo would bag a hat-trick in this game to drag United to a massive three points.
Honourable mentions: Bruno Fernandes vs Newcastle, Alex Telles vs Villarreal
Tottenham 0-3 Man Utd
After shipping four goals to Leicester and five against Liverpool in consecutive weeks, there were fears that United’s season was going to start unravelling all the way back in October. It would have, had it not been for this sensational showing against Tottenham.
Spurs weren’t at the peak of their powers, still under Nuno Espirito Santo at the time, but the character shown by United to bounce back from two crushing defeats in such emphatic fashion away from home deserves a whole lot of credit.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer switched to a 3-5-2 for that game and the results were clear to see.
Honourable mentions: Man Utd 5-1 Leeds, Villarreal 0-2 Man Utd
No surprises here.
United’s transfer business is a source of real frustration this season, with neither Jadon Sancho nor Raphael Varane really setting the world alight. Big things were expected but chances were missed.
That leaves Ronaldo, whose frustrating campaign was still good enough to steer him to third in the Premier League’s Golden Boot race.
Honourable mentions: None
Listen now to 90min’s Manchester United podcast, The Promised Land, with Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette. On this week’s show they discuss the reports linking the club with RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, the latest on Frenkie de Jong & the explanation of Ten Hag’s appointment from the club’s hierarchy.
A rare source of optimism this season for Man Utd is the form of Fred, who is one of the few players who can go out with his head held high.
Ralf Rangnick’s high-press style of play didn’t work at Old Trafford but it absolutely brought the best out of Fred, who went from a meme to one of the first names on the team sheet this season.
He ended up fourth on the club’s scoring charts in the Premier League and third when it comes to assists.
Honourable mention: Anthony Elanga
The amount of players in contention for this award tells you all you need to know about Man Utd’s season.
We’re giving this one to summer signing Raphael Varane, who arrived with a reputation as one of the best defenders around. He was supposed to be the new defensive leader, but injuries restricted him to 20 Premier League starts and he didn’t even look that good when he wasn’t hurt.
By no means was Varane the worst player in this United team – you can decide who takes that honour – but there was just so much more expected from the Frenchman.
Honourable mentions: Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford