3 things Manchester United should do to win the Premier League next season
It's been a season of mixed fortunes for Manchester United fans. On one hand, the club secured their highest finish (2nd) in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2012/13, which represents a real improvement compared to previous seasons. If United beat Watford at Old Trafford on Sunday, they'll finish on 81 points which isn't too far off the Sir Alex Ferguson glory era.
On the other hand, Manchester City have been runaway leaders for sometime in the league and to see them win the title so convincingly whilst breaking numerous records is really hard for United fans to take.
There's also the possibility that United will end the season without a trophy if they lose the FA Cup final against Chelsea. Though United are favourites to win, it would be a bitter disappointment if they lost. Arguably, the success of the season rests on whether United win the FA Cup or not.
Clearly, there is plenty of work to be done before United can catch City and become serious contenders for the title again. On that note, here is a look at the 3 main things the Red Devils must do in order to win the Premier League next season:
#3 Beat the smaller sides
United's performances this season have been unpredictable, to say the least. It's hard to say which United side will turn up: will it be the one that beat Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal (twice) or the one who lost to Huddersfield, Brighton, West Brom and Newcastle?
If anything, United have struggled against the smaller teams this season, failing to score in three of those previously mentioned defeats as well as drawing winnable games against Burnley, Leicester, Stoke and Southampton.
If all of these results are taken into account, United have dropped 20 points. Ironically, Manchester City are currently 19 points ahead of United. If United had turned up against these smaller sides, the title race would definitely have been a lot closer.
Given the ability of the players within the United squad, this failure to beat the smaller sides doesn't seem to be a question of ability, more of attitude. Many pundits (and even Jose Mourinho himself) have noted that United tend to play better against the top sides where the stakes and pressure are higher.
Conversely, against the smaller sides, United players do seem to be a little guilty of complacency, perhaps incorrectly feeling that they can win the game easily without much effort.
This has resulted in a series of poor performances against the 'lesser' sides, perhaps the worst of which came a few weeks ago in a defeat at home to rock-bottom West Brom. This trait of under-performing against less-notable sides also happened in the UEFA Champions League where United were unceremoniously knocked out after a dire performance against Sevilla.
Next season, in order to be considered genuine title contenders, United must consistently beat the smaller sides, just as Manchester City have done this season.
Key fact: Manchester United have lost against all 3 promoted clubs (Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton) this season, which is the first time this has ever happened in the Premier League.