There were signs of progress at Manchester United in the 2020-21 season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sealed Champions League qualification for two consecutive seasons, something no manager has had since Sir Alex Ferguson was able to come to Old Trafford.
It’s really just the bare minimum expectation, but it represents an improvement on what was gone before.
There were also individual improvements for the players. We picked three United stars who have made great strides since the start of the season …
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Shaw is certainly United’s best player this season. Some might have expected Alex Telles to take his place, but this competition has taken the Englishman to a new level.
The way he kept Mo Salah calm in Anfield in January seemed to get many experts to sit up and take notice.
The praise for his performance that day spurred him to new heights. Before Euro 2020 he’s rightly back in the English squad.
Luke Shaw has created the same scoring chances as Lionel Messi in the top five leagues in Europe this season (66) #mulive [@WhoScored]- utdreport (@utdreport) April 26, 2021
Shaw is now the most creative full-back in the Premier League and it’s hard to remember any winger who beat him this season.
Solskjaer deserves credit for his management from Shaw, whose trust was decimated by Jose Mourinho.
United are finally seeing the tremendous potential Shaw showed when he broke through as a teenager in Southampton. His improvement was incredible.
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It’s easy to forget that during the project restart, McTominay wasn’t in United’s first-choice midfield.
Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were Solskjaer’s favorite trio at the time, but McTominay has fought his way back into the team this season.
The main area he has improved in is his goal scoring. He has seven goals this season and is a late-night threat, as well as in set pieces.
This also gives Solskjaer options in the summer. He can recruit an all-midfielder and maybe give McTominay more license to charge forward.
Or McTominay can anchor midfield with a more creative, deep-seated player.
McTominay will be at Euro 2020 with Scotland and in a strong tournament his star could rise even further.
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Wan-Bissaka has also improved this season.
It looks safer to own. He is less than a million miles behind Shaw in terms of assists and opportunities that result from the open play.
We all know Wan-Bissaka is capable of stifling the best wingers in the world and this season there have been masterclasses against Neymar and Raheem Sterling.
More is to come from Wan-Bissaka – Shaw shows the level he needs to reach – but there is no denying that he has made great strides during this tenure.
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