How the Winter Transfer Window helped Man United Secure the CL Spot
Manchester United Football Club secured Champions League football next season by finishing the season as third on the Premier League log. The Red Devils had to fight long and hard in the Premier League and put up a 14-game unbeaten run from January.
With the Premier League season over, it would be a good time to reflect back on how the EPL transfers in January had helped in shaping the Old Trafford club’s league campaign.
The Red Devils started the campaign with three major signings in the form of Dan James, Aaron Wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire. United started their season thrashing Chelsea 4-nil at Old Trafford which gave the fans huge expectations. But the score in that match didn’t absolutely tell the whole story, as Chelsea dictated play for most of that game.
But the rest of the season start-up didn’t go so well for United as they drew against Wolves and Southampton and lost against Crystal Palace. Dan James scored crucial goals against Palace and Southampton, but couldn’t do enough to get the wins in United’s favour. United had a chance to win against Wolves, but Pogba missed his spot-kick and had to settle for a point.
The season quickly derailed for the Red Devil as the ailing Bournemouth defeated Manchester United after their former striker, Josh King scored the only goal. United was poorly struggling to score goals against sides that used a low-block to defend, especially without Martial and Pogba. All the other teams noticed the issue and played United accordingly as a poor string of results kept piling on.
The result with Bournemouth meant that Manchester United found themselves 10th in the Premier League log. The manager, Solskjaer and his players were under heavy criticism and needed to get results very soon to stay away from the fans’ wrath. However, playing against the stubborn defence, United were lacklustre and the confidence seemed awry as the misery was further compounded by the back to back draws against Sheffield United and Aston Villa.
In that manner, the Old Trafford club of securing the European elite club competition was not just a blurry dream, but looked unattainable with the performances of Manchester United in the league games week in, week out.
With the United talisman, Pogba injured since November, Marus Rashford had been at the pinnacle of his game, lukewarm characteristic of Martial in front of goal coupled with constant injury reduce the influence of Manchester United in front of goal. But the Red Devils’ incapability to score against stubborn defences as the team drew against Everton and lost to a weak Watford side.
United ended the decade with good results though, defeating New Castle and Burnley in the last two games of 2019. If they continued their form, United looked at their worst-ever points tally in a league season.
United was written off by many before Christmas – following a disastrous start to the season – but they secured a third-place finish, the second-highest league position since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, and clinched Champions League football for the next campaign with their win over Leicester.
However, as soon as the January transfer window opened, Ole Gunner Solskjaer was desperate to get an attacking midfielder and a striker. Woodward obliged and brought in Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo to add to the threat that United possess, due to Rashford’s injury. The then club captain Ashley Young departed to Inter Milan and soon Harry Maguire took over the captaincy at Old Trafford.
This was a move that eventually changed the fortune for the Red Devil. Although the impact of Odion Ighalo was not really felt in the team as the impact of Bruno Fernades with immediately and long lastly felt throughout the rest of the season.
Three days after the acquisition of Bruno, the Portuguese were quickly named in the squad that faced Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League as the team began a wonderful journey that put a beautiful smile in the face of the united faithful across the globe.
In the space of a few weeks before football’s postponement, Manchester United reincarnated their top-four dream in the Premier League, reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and all but confirmed their place in the last eight of the Europa League. Their 11-game unbeaten run is their longest since the start of Solskjaer’s tenure.
Evidently, Bruno Fernades cap the wonderful season with Manchester United as the Red Devil securing their Champions League spot on the final day match against Leicester City at the Kings Power Stadium, while the Portuguese were on the score sheet once again.
Old Trafford Champions League qualification would have not been fruitful without Bruno Fernandes. The 25-year-old has had a transformative impact since his £68m arrival from Sporting Lisbon on the penultimate day of the transfer window, living up to sky-high expectations and then some. With much goals and assists to his name during the campaign.
More importantly, the lack of creativity and imagination in United’s midfield had been heightened in the absence of the injured Paul Pogba, but Fernandes changed it from the moment he came into the team. On his debut, in an otherwise forgettable 0-0 draw at home to Wolves, he could be seen finding Juan Mata between the lines with the kind of passes others might struggle to see let alone execute.
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Winning back to back English Premier League player of the month is an understatement to what impact the Portuguese brought to the Old Trafford during this campaign. Soon after the Portugal midfielder arrival, Manchester United became a strong team that worthy of any team in the league and the run of the undefeated game by the Red Devil, the chances and hope of making the top four became visible and eventually qualified.
With fourteen appearances, the Portuguese had a Steller campaign with eight goals and seven assists to his name. Even more significant, however, is that he has produced more than three times as many passes into the opposition box as any of his team-mates. In the Premier League as a whole, in fact, his total of 48 is second only to Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold since the start of February.
Importantly, Manchester United look like a formidable attacking force again. In all of the Manchester United games, Fernandes has started, they have scored fluently. A team which was previously averaging 1.6 goals per game later averaging 2.5. Odion Ighalo has helped too, of course, but what’s crucial is that there is now someone providing the kind of service the side was crying out for.
Anthony Martial has certainly emboldened, putting a poor run of form behind him to score more goals in his last appearances in the league, four of which have been set up by Bruno.
In midfield, Fred has grown in stature and so too has Nemanja Matic. At right-back, meanwhile, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is improving the attacking side of his game having reportedly received one-on-one guidance from the new arrival. It is as a team, though, that Manchester United have benefited most. The boos that rang out at Old Trafford against Burnley are a distant memory now.
The Portuguese star helps the Red Devil to the elite team competition in the continent. And evidently, Bruno Fernandes signing in the previous January transfer window had helped Manchester united secure champions league spot.