On 22 April, 2013, Manchester United claimed their 20th English top-flight title thanks to Robin van Persie’s hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa. The Red Devils claimed the silverware with four games to spare following Manchester City’s defeat to Spurs the day before. It was sweet revenge for United, who were denied the title with the last kick of the previous campaign.
Alex Ferguson’s 13th Premier League title also proved to be his last as he announced his retirement just 16 days later. Few imagined that his departure would lead to an eight-year title drought. So, with pre-season underway, are Man United any closer to ending their barren spell?
Get the inside scoop on our first day of this week’s training camp! 💪⛺️#MUFC— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 19, 2021
The 2020/21 season felt like a turning point after years of frustration. A second-place finish and 74 points was an improvement on the previous campaign. Yet, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men still finished 12 points adrift of Manchester City who also improved on their previous total and start as favourites again.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool suffered a dip in form following a period of success that saw them claim a sixth Champions League and end their own 30-year title drought. But they still managed to finish third, just five points behind Solskjaer’s men. With Virgil van Dijk back in their ranks, they’ll also be looking to mount another title challenge this term.
For those who bet on football at Space Casino, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea are also ahead of United in the pecking order and are currently priced at 5/1 alongside Liverpool, with United at 17/2. The Old Trafford club open their account at home to Leeds on August 14 and are odds-on to win.
Patience & Stability
The good news is that United seem to be finally breaking the crisis of confidence that emerged in the post-Ferguson years. After lurching in different directions and scrambling for instant success, the club has entered a period of patience and stability that appears to have put them back on the right track. The recent signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund has given the whole club a lift. If they can also add the likes of Raphael Varane and Declan Rice to the roster, there will be genuine reasons to be optimistic.
Raphaël Varane and his agents confirmed to Real Madrid his desire to try a new experience in the Premier League. He’ll be respectful waiting for the club agreement – but he wants Man United. 🔴 #MUFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 19, 2021
Varane also confirmed to Man Utd he’d be ‘ready’ to accept their contract bid.
In previous years, the shadow of Sir Alex, and the ridiculous standards he set, loomed ominously over the club. The burden of sustaining his legacy proved too much for even the game’s most experienced coaches until United finally faced up to reality. Few could have carried on where Ferguson left off and a new outlook was needed.
With so much of the groundwork now complete, this could be a crucial season for Solskjaer. There is a feeling he must make a genuine title push or at least win a trophy this campaign to prove he has the ability to continue the upward trajectory. Manchester United have afforded him the patience that he requested and he will be expected to deliver on his end of the bargain. He might not win the title in the coming season but he must at least put United right back in the conversation.