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Manchester United Player Season Review 2016/17: The Midfield

Manchester United did not have the best of seasons during the 2016/17 campaign which commenced in high spirits with Jose Mourinho replacing Louis van Gaal as the manager, with the Portuguese former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager bringing in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba as his four summer signings, Pogba being the current world record signing which could be eclipsed and even surpassed this summer if reports are to be believed. Mourinho had instilled the winning mentality into his new club just weeks after be became the manager, pushing for big changes from the start of the season. United started off by beating Leicester City to win the FA Community Shield, the first of many trophies under Mourinho, which turned out the be the case only in the first season.

United started well in the league, winning their first three matches, but a three-match losing streak then turned the season upside down, losing two Premier League matches and one in the UEFA Europa League. United found their feet again, but the ups and downs kept coming. Too many draws in the Premier League, most of them at home became a problem for United, which contributed in their sixth-placed finish, a first for the club who had finished seventh (David Moyes), fourth and fifth (Louis van Gaal) post-Sir Alex Ferguson. The season had a different feeling to it though, something was being built for the future, Mourinho was bringing United back to the helm just like Ferguson did in the 1990’s.

Of course, Rome was not built in a day, but things are changing. United ended the season with two more trophies; the EFL Cup, beating Southampton 3-2 at Wembley at the end of February and the UEFA Europa League, beating Ajax 2-0 in Sweden, more importantly earning a UEFA Champions League group stage place next season, the minimum requirement for Mourinho and his team. The season reviews have been written for the Premier League, EFL Cup, Emirates FA Cup, and the UEFA Europa League now it is the player’s turn to be reviewed and rated, now the midfielders.

Paul Pogba

The £89 million man had a bad season according to his critics with their mentality being that he cost that much so should be scoring 189 goals, assisting 1001 times and keeping 250 clean sheets a season. A transfer fee does not dictate how many goals a player will score. Some suggest he should be a striker for the money paid. I don’t get why they get involved in conversations clearly above their mentality at the end of the day. Paul Pogba has been consistent despite changing from the Serie A to the Premier League, which is a much different league but still keeping his personal stats on par with the past four seasons at Juventus. Some will never appreciate Pogba and what he does for his club. Those people need to learn to accept that they have no control in any factor concerning the player but they won’t.

Appearances: Premier League: 30, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 4, UEFA Europa League: 15, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 51

Goals: Premier League: 5, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 3, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 9

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 10, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Juan Mata

The Spaniard was set to be the first player out of the door when Jose Mourinho was named the manager of the club, based on the opinion that he sold him at Chelsea so would do the same. That did not happen and Juan Mata became an important player throughout the season. Mata suffered an injury late on into the season with Mourinho ruling him out for the remainder, but he returned week after an operation, showing the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who were still on the sidelines after seven weeks from suffering their injuries in March whilst on England duty. Mata played 41 times this season, winning three trophies, two of them major honours, scoring ten goals, which was much-needed form the midfield during the course of the season. United need to be scoring more goals from midfield, with this summer’s acquisitions important into commencing that. Mata could well remain at United after this summer, he should at least.

Appearances: Premier League: 25, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 3, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 41

Goals: Premier League: 6, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 2, UEFA Europa League: 2, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 10

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard is a player who has offered a lot for his club over the last few seasons, scoring in the Emirates FA Cup final, the FA Community Shield and in the EFL Cup final, something he should be celebrated for, but for some reason, supporters don’t see what he offers the team. They seem to think he is not good enough and certainly not worth of a pay rise or a new contract, which he signed earlier in the season. Lingard may not be a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque player, he has something to offer. Many choose not to see it. He may not be a guaranteed starter, and next season with new additions coming, he may not be, but as a squad player, he has something to offer, until at least he leaves the club or does something special to become a starter. Sir Alex ferguson said he would be a late developer, of which he was. Perhaps he should be given a better crack of the whip.

Appearances: Premier League: 25, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 4, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 42

Goals: Premier League: 1, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 2, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 5

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 6, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Michael Carrick

The veteran midfielder will race the pitch against in the coming season, signing a new contract at the Old Trafford club over the past few weeks. Michael Carrick has been the midfielder that United would not want to lose over the past season, calm and assured on and off the ball, putting in the effort needed, the majority of the time at least, which United needed in order to control the midfield. Carrick is an important player, one which when Paul Pogba plays too, sees the Frenchman able to play in a more advanced position, adding something else to United’s team. Carrick will play for another year at least, then United will have to find his replacement if he does not arrive at the Old Trafford club this summer.

Appearances: Premier League: 23, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 5, UEFA Europa League: 7, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 38

Goals: Premier League: 0, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 0, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 1

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 1, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Ashley Young

Ashley Young is probably a player who will be allowed to leave the Old Trafford club this summer. He does have some teams interested in signing him. He has done well over the past season, despite playing a more defence minded position, playing in both the left-back and right-back positions, helping his team with what they needed. Only 23 appearances will not impress him, at the stage of his career, he will need to be a starter, which could see him leave for China, Turkey or even a lower ranked Premier League club. He was wanted by Watford in January, a former club of his before he signed for Aston Villa.Young was not a player many wanted to see at the club, especially after losing Cristiano Ronaldo, but to give him his dues, he has scored some important goals, playing some important parts at the club. This season saw him end it on the sidelines through injury, which would have irked him a little.

Appearances: Premier League: 12, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 7, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 23

Goals: Premier League: 0, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 0, UEFA Europa League: 0, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 0

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Ander Herrera

The Spanish midfielder has found his purpose this season under Jose Mourinho. Ander Herrera has played a much deeper role, marking players like Eden Hazard and helping United find some form this season, beating Chelsea 2-0 at Old Trafford from probably his best match for the club in three years. Herrera is wanted by Barcelona if you believe the transfer reports in the newspapers, but the player wants to remain at Old Trafford, which has been said by his own mind and mouth. United’s midfield is much better with him in it, now that he has seemingly found his purpose. Herrera, Paul Pogba, and another midfielder will do well for United, Pogba being allowed to do what he does, not having to continually drop back and defend the midfield, using his creative aspect for the game instead. Herrera is a crucial player for United, offering everything he needed to offer, doing what he needed to do. I am sure Hazard still has dreams about him marking him out of the game, something he was unable to get through during that match.

Appearances: Premier League: 31, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 6, UEFA Europa League: 9, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 50

Goals: Premier League: 1, Emirates FA Cup: 0, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 0, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 2

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 4/5

Marouane Fellaini

The Belgian had a mixed season. Jose Mourinho trusts him and he trusts Mourinho. That is something we shall have to get used to should he remain at the Old Trafford club this season. Marouane Fellaini has played his part for much of the season, scoring some important goals, but he has helped undo the work United have put in, that late penalty he gave away against Everton which turned what was looking to be a 1-0 victory, into a 1-1 draw. Fellaini offers aggression and physicality in the midfield, also playing well on the attack, offering height and an eye for a goal, especially from a header. That seems to be something that many will not congratulate him for because he arrived under David Moyes, was the only summer signing of that season and was not the player many wanted. I like Fellaini for what he offers, as over the past few seasons he has done some good things, but United do need much better than him in midfield, especially for Paul Pogba to be played to his strengths.

Appearances: Premier League: 28, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 5, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 47

Goals: Premier League: 1, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 1, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 4

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 9, Red Cards: 1

Season Rating: 4/5

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