Another game, another win and another clean sheet for Manchester United as they swept aside a doomed Aston Villa at Villa Park on Thursday night.
The Red Devils recovered from a lacklustre start to eventually take a comfortable 3-0 win, with goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba enough to take the 3 points.
It took Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side to 100 goals in all competitions for the campaign and just 1 point behind Leicester City, who they play on the final day, in fourth place. They also became the first ever side to win four consecutive Premier League games by 3+ goals. So just how close are they to challenging for major honours?
As it stands, the starting XI is good enough to compete. David De Gea, despite worries about his recent form, is still among the top goalkeepers in the world. Harry Maguire has improved the defence greatly, with the club conceding just 42 goals in all competitions throughout 53 games this season. Significantly that is the same amount of games the club played in the entirety of last season, where they conceded 70 goals.
One question mark would be his partner in the middle. Victor Lindelof has been the preferred partner since Ole took over but he has been shaky at best. He struggles in physical battles and aerially isn’t the most dominant, but he’s brave on the ball and breaks lines well with his passing into midfield. It’s an area that the club is reportedly looking at improving in the summer and rightly so.
At full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been brilliant all season and pre-Fernandes was undoubtedly in the conversation for player and signing of the season. On the other side, Luke Shaw has seemingly won the battle with Brandon Williams over who should be first-choice left-back. Despite fitness and form concerns over the last few years, Shaw has been rock solid since the turn of the year and been in very good form. If he can maintain it, the club shouldn’t need to upgrade immediately in the summer while Williams is more than adequate cover.
The front six currently picks itself but you can see the lack of quality cover, especially in the front three, when substitutions start to get made. Odion Ighalo has done well since joining on loan but he’s probably not someone United want leading the line for a prolonged period of time should Anthony Martial pick up an injury, while Dan James has struggled since his initial purple patch at the start of the season. Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira are likely to leave while Juan Mata is a completely different profile of player and should probably be moved on too.
If the club want to challenge next season, they need to beef up their attacking options. We saw how the midfield fell apart without Paul Pogba for most of the season and while the club now have Bruno Fernandes, they should definitely be looking to add depth. Jack Grealish and Donny Van De Beek have been touted as potential options and would both be exactly what the club need in those positions.
With Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic both signing new contracts, the club are unlikely to delve into the holding midfielder market in the immediate future.
If they can add depth across their squad and continue with the quality they have in the starting line-up then Manchester United will be in the conversation next season for the Premier League title.