Man Utd winners and losers including Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial

Despite ending the season without a trophy, Manchester United enjoyed a season of improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Mirror Sport look...

Despite ending the season without a trophy, Manchester United enjoyed a season of improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Mirror Sport looks at who stood out for the Red Devils.


As Manchester United stepped up to receive their Europa League runners-up medals on Wednesday, not one player in their squad would have felt like a winner.

On the contrary, the players couldn’t wait to rid themselves of the consolation prize following their agonising 11-10 penalty shootout defeat to Villarreal in the final in Gdansk, having drawn 1-1 in normal time.

It brought about a disappointing conclusion to what had been a relatively encouraging campaign, having placed second in the Premier League behind champions Manchester City — their best finish since 2017/18 — as well as reaching the final.

There were certainly some highlights along the way.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side went the entire season unbeaten away from home, becoming the first team in Premier League since Arsenal ’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2003/04 to achieve the feat.

Ultimately, finishing the campaign without a trophy for the fourth successive year will hurt and cause some concern amongst United fans, who had grown accustomed to regular success under Sir Alex Ferguson.

But the future looks bright at Old Trafford as Solskjaer has gradually built a youthful and energetic side with a British core, while several United players have made giant strides under the Norwegian's guidance.

Mirror Sport takes a look at which Man United players can look back on their season with pride — and those who have struggled…


Not since Marcus Rashford’s emergence in 2015 has there been such excitement about a homegrown talent coming through the ranks at Manchester United.

Greenwood doesn’t turn 20 until October but the teenager has already racked up 105 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 29 goals.

The forward has found a home on the right-wing of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 setup this season and has chipped in with seven goals in 31 games in the Premier League.

His dazzling displays at Old Trafford haven’t gone unnoticed by Gareth Southgate, who named Greenwood in his 33-man preliminary squad for Euro 2020, and United fans will be extremely excited to see just how far this generational talent can go.

Luke Shaw


Considering it feels like Shaw has been around for what seems to be an eternity, it is always a surprise to be reminded he is only 25.

The left-back has been at Old Trafford since 2014 and after a difficult start to his career with the club, Shaw has enjoyed his best season with the club, with five assists in his 32 league matches.

It seems his injury troubles are largely behind him after sustaining a double leg break in 2017. He has also outshone Alex Telles, who was signed last summer as competition but has struggled to make an impression.

If he secures a starting place for England this summer at the European Championships, Shaw will certainly feel like a winner.

His critics said he was finished and PSG seemed to agree, declining to hand the Uruguayan forward a new contract after seven years of service.

But the 34-year-old has been a breath of fresh air for Man United after signing an initial one-year deal last summer.

Having been used from the bench a la Solskjaer, Cavani’s 16 goals for the Red Devils have come at crucial times and he now leads the line, with Anthony Martial on the bench.

No one could deny Cavani deserved a contract extension, which he penned in May, and he can look forward to building an impressive debut campaign in England.

Losers

Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek has made just four starts in the league this season for Man Utd after his £40m move
Donny van de Beek has made just four starts in the league this season for Man Utd after his £40m move 

It was seen as a coup when Manchester United swooped to sign Van de Beek from Ajax under the noses of Real Madrid. But with every game he sits unused on the bench, it becomes a more questionable tale of why they did sign him.

The 24-year-old was their most expensive summer signing, arriving in a deal rising to £40m from the Eredivisie giants.

He made a fine start to his Red Devils career too, coming off the bench to score a consolation goal against Crystal Palace on his debut.

But Solskjaer is clearly not convinced that the Dutchman can take his side to the next level and Van de Beek has cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines, with just four starts coming in the Premier League.

His big-money move simply hasn’t worked out at all and while he will play at Euro 2020 with the Netherlands, he might be better off putting himself in the shop window rather than trying to impress his current boss.

Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial has struggled with form and injuries in 2020/21
Anthony Martial has struggled with form and injuries in 2020/21 

What has happened to the Frenchman?

The 25-year-old is in his sixth season at Old Trafford, yet his stock continues to plummet at an alarming rate.

Martial had scored just four times in the league in 22 matches and had fallen down the pecking order behind Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani before he was ruled out with injury.

Having been a regular for France at international level, Martial was left out by Didier Deschamps’ Euro 2020 squad and Solskjaer will be hoping for a new and improved version of his striker when he returns to action next season.

Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams has seen his game time dramatically reduced at Man Utd
Brandon Williams has seen his game time dramatically reduced at Man Utd

Before he played for the entirety of the 2-1 defeat against Leicester City on May 11, Williams had featured on the pitch for only seven minutes in the Premier League.

Injury was not to blame, either. Aside from a three-week absence in January, the 20-year-old has been available for selection for the majority of the campaign.

His lack of game time is curious, considering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke in glowing terms about the full-back and used him frequently last season. Luke Shaw’s resurgence has undoubtedly played a part, but 2020/21 has been a stagnant period for the youngster.

He signed a new four-year deal only in August last year, so there is no reason to panic over his future just yet. But he will keen for more first-team opportunities next season.


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