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Manchester United in 2023: Best Player, Best Game, Best XI and more

It is time for Manchester United and Erik ten Hag to reflect on a year that has been full of ups and downs.

The Red Devils started 2023 by signing Wout Weghorst on loan – a striker deemed not good enough by Burnley.

A memorable comeback 2-1 win over Manchester City pushed many people to describe the Old Trafford side as a dark horse in the Premier League title race. However, that claim proved to be far from reality.

Man United ended their six-year run without a trophy by claiming the League Cup. 

Pep Guardiola’s side restricted them from doing a Wembley Stadium double by winning the all-Manchester FA Cup final clash.

A third-place finish in the Premier League assured a Champions League return for the Red Devils. It gave hope to United fans that Ten Hag is the man to take the club forward.

The optimism of the new season faded quickly as Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal humbled Ten Hag’s side. 

Newcastle United knocked them out of the League Cup, and their Champions League campaign never got going.

Some high-profile individual errors ensured that Man United remained rock-bottom of their group and got dumped out of Europe.

Let’s get into the yearly review for the Red Devils.

Best Player – Marcus Rashford

Man United have been consistently inconsistent for years, and Marcus Rashford is the epitome of that.

The lost boy of the 2021-22 season became the talisman in the 2022-23 campaign. 

He scored 30 goals across the competitions and became the first United player since Robin van Persie to achieve the landmark.

He drove forward confidently, took on defenders and left them on the floor with his fine dribbling. 

Fast forward to the 2023-24 season, the talisman has again become a lost boy. He has scored only twice in 15 matches and lost his starting spot on the left flank to the young Alejandro Garnacho.

Even though the last few months have been abysmal for Rashford, he remains United’s best performer for 2023. That proves how poor and inconsistent the team has been all year.

Best Goal – Alejandro Garnacho (vs Everton)

Garnacho’s stunning overhead kick goal against Everton left everyone buzzing. It was one of the most aesthetically pleasing goals one could watch. 

Everton played at home for the first time after being handed a 10-point deduction in the English top flight due to a breach of financial rules. 

The home crowd did their best to create a hostile environment as they were rooted in a deep sense of injustice. An early goal was required for the Red Devils, and Garnacho delivered in the third minute of the game.

His magical strike is undoubtedly among the leading contenders for the Puskas Award.

Best Game – Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona

The Red Devils secured a fantastic comeback victory over Barcelona in the Europa League play-off.

Convincingly knocking La Liga champions is one of the highlights of Ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford.

Robert Lewandowski gave Barcelona a perfect start by scoring in the 18th minute. 

Fred levelled the score with a smart finish right after the break, followed by Antony’s beautiful curling shot, which proved to be the match-winner.

Best Transfer signing – Rasmus Hojlund

Man United have been terrible in a few departments in 2023, and failure in the transfer market is at the top of the list.

Rasmus Hojlund is our pick – a £72 million signing who has yet to score in the Premier League after making 12 appearances.

His five goals in six Champions League games show the youngster has enormous potential. 

He has worked hard off the ball and continues pressing opponents from the front. Hopefully, his development can speed up as United need him to start scoring goals for fun.

Best XI 

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, McTominay, Fernandes; Garnacho, Hojlund, Rashford.

Prediction for 2024

The Red Devils can only compete in the Premier League and FA Cup now after getting dumped out of the Champions League and League Cup.

The English top-flight crown is realistically out of their grasp. Ten Hag will want his side to finish in the top four and win the FA Cup.

Considering their inconsistencies, it will be tough for Man United to achieve the above two targets.

The Dutchman needs Champions League football next season to attract elite players to the club.

If Man United want to progress, they must revamp their approach in the transfer market. 

The upcoming two transfer windows should see the further exit of players whom Ten Hag does not rate to be good enough to wear the Man United jersey.