After a disappointing Premier League season in which United failed to finish in the top four, the season ended with silverware and Champions League qualification after winning the Europa League.
United had a new manager for this campaign, with Jose Mourinho joining straight after winning the FA Cup last season. He brought in four big signings in the summer. They were Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrick Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly. He broke the transfer record for Pogba, paying £89million.
Their season started before the Premier League had begun in the Community Shield. Ibrahimovic scored the winner in a 2-1 victory. The Premier League season began brightly, winning the first three games in the league. They won every game in August.
There was a sense that Mourinho was bringing back the success from Sir Alex Ferguson’s time. Ibrahimovic scored three goals in his first three games. He scored against Man City in their first game in September but, they couldn’t carry on their winning run and lost 2-1.
They started their Europa League campaign in September, but they lost to Feyenoord 2-1. Also in September they beat Northampton 3-1 in the EFL Cup to progress to the next round. Their Premier League form dipped a bit, losing to Watford as well as City.
During this season United struggled a lot at scoring against smaller teams who came to Old Trafford, despite having a large amount of shots. In October this happened against Stoke, where they drew 1-1, and against Burnley, where they drew 0-0. Against Burnley they had 42 shots, with Ibrahimovic having 12 of them.
During November, they drew more games at home, letting a late goal to draw against Arsenal and drawing 1-1 against despite dominating. What was once thought of as the Theatre of Dreams, where teams would fear was now becoming a stadium where teams wouldn’t feel as scared.
In December another late goal cost them the three points against Everton. They needed to draw at Zorya Luhansk to progress to the last 32. They won the game 2-0 so they were through. They had an unbeaten December and after the Everton game won five league games in the league.
They extended their winning run in the league with a 2-0 win at West Ham at the beginning of January. That run ended in the following game with a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool.
Wayne Rooney became joint all-time leading scorer with Sir Bobby Charlton through scoring in the 4-0 win in the third round of the FA Cup. Rooney did break the record, with a sensational stoppage-time free-kick. It was his 250th goal for United to overtake Charlton.
United made it through to the final of the EFL Cup with an aggregate win over Hull City. They won the first leg 2-0 at home. They scraped through in the second leg after losing the game 2-1, which ended their 17 match game unbeaten run in all competitions but, they won the tie 3-2.
Another draw at home against one of the smaller teams came at the beginning of February against Hull with a 0-0 draw. They stayed unbeaten in the league but were dropping valuable points in the race for the top four. But they could qualify for the Champions League through winning the Europa League. They progressed to the Last 16 with a 4-0 aggregate win over Saint Etienne.
At the end of February Mourinho won his first trophy as United manager in the EFL Cup against Southampton. They went 2-0 in the game through Jesse Lingard and Ibrahimovic but, Southampton pulled it back through two goals from Manolo Gabbiadini. It looked like Southampton were going to score another but in the 87th minute Ibrahimovic won the game for United. It was what United had bought him for.
In March once again they drew at home to a smaller team through drawing to Bournemouth 1-1. They were knocked out of the FA Cup against Chelsea in a 1-0 loss. Ander Herrera was sent off which made the task very difficult and N’Golo Kante scored the winner. Also in this month they progressed to the quarter-final of the Europa League with a 2-1 aggregate victory over FC Rostov.
April was a packed month with nine games. They drew three games at home in this month and it was looking like winning the Europa League was their only hope of qualifying for the Champions League. They scraped into the semi-final of the Europa League. After drawing against Anderlecht in the first leg, an extra-time goal from Marcus Rashford gave them a 3-2 aggregate victory.
United made it into the final of the Europa League with tense 2-1 aggregate victory over Celta Vigo. They survived a huge late scare with ex Man City player John Guidetti missing a tap-in right at the death. United also had to make do without Eric Bailly in the final, as he got sent-off for a little push on Guidetti, who made a meal out of it.
United’s unbeaten run in the league ended, with a 2-0 loss at Arsenal. By now Mourinho was concentrating on winning the Europa League. He was resting the players who would be playing in the final.
In the final game of the Premier League season against Crystal Palace, Mourinho gave full Premier League debuts to four players: Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, and Josh Harrop. Also, 16 year-old Angel Gomes came on for Rooney. This game could be his last game at Old Trafford where he has scored plenty of goals over the years. During the first half Harrop had a dream debut, scoring an impressive goal.
United’s last game of the season was the Europa League final against Ajax. This was their biggest game of the season and a must-win otherwise the season would be deemed a failure. Goals from Pogba and Mkhitaryan gave them victory and there were big celebrations at the end, with Mourinho being thrown in the air.
Overall, I don’t believe this was a successful season, as they came sixth in the league and only qualified for the Champions League through winning the Europa League. They will definitely need to improve in the league next season.
They will need to sign players in the summer and they have already signed centre-back Victor Lindelof from Benfica, who could be good partnering Eric Bailly at the back. They are linked with Alvaro Morata, Ivan Perisic, Fabinho, James Rodriguez and more. They definitely need a striker after not offering a new contract to Ibrahimovic.