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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Good Night, Bad Season: The best moments of an often poor campaign

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Manchester United’s 2023/24 campaign is one fans will want to forget from the moment the final whistle blew on May 19th at Brighton, but The FA Cup Final victory over Manchester City was one of a few moments this season that are permanently etched into the memories of the fanbase.

That moment won’t be discussed here as it’s already fresh on the minds of every Red, and it’s not one we’ll forget anytime soon.

We will also leave the bad times for another time.

Erik ten Hag’s side came in with the hopes of improving upon their finish last season, but injuries and poor management and organization haunted the Reds from the start. There was nothing offered week to week to take the opposition by surprise. There were however some moments of brilliance, of promise from a talented but incomplete team. Despite the disaster, there were still reminders of who we are.

Here we’ll focus on those positives as we wrap up coverage of a mostly negative season.

Colin Damms

Manchester United 4-3 Liverpool

Manchester United v Liverpool - Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Ah, the Magic of the FA Cup…

Going on to win the cup might just be as good a feeling as it was to win this game, but there is a near certainty that it wouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining.

Beating Liverpool always means something, but beating Liverpool like this in a cup tie really meant something. A season that had nearly totally deteriorated by March was kept alive by a match that reminded us why we put up with all that we do watching this club. Thrilling, open game from start to finish complete with late drama and an even later winner from Amad Diallo.

Nothing quite like that feeling, and it’s been far and few between lately.

Rashford’s redemptive goal to tie the game again is one of my favorite goals of the season, and it was also when I lost my voice. It was just what we needed, and it’s even sweeter now knowing they finished the job.

Kaustubh Pandey

Amad’s goal

Manchester United v Liverpool - Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

That Amad goal against Liverpool will live in my memory forever. As a professional backer of my Ivorian prince since the day he joined, it was a moment that told everyone exactly why he should be trusted more. The context was also important, as Amad wasn’t quite used by Erik ten Hag before that I always believed that he should be used more, not just because of how bad Antony has been but also because he is generally a very good player. He had an impeccable amount of composure to score in the last minute of extra time and it was admirable for someone who hasn’t quite played much for United.

More than that, there were doubts about Amad’s future in January and Ten Hag kept him as he wanted to use him more. Now, regardless of what happens in the future for Amad and whether he lives up to his promise or not, he will always have that moment against Liverpool and no one can take that away from him. And as a professional backer of my prince, I’m so glad. That moment will always make me smile.

Pauly Kwestel

Everton 0-3 Manchester United

Everton FC v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The answer is United’s FA Cup triumph but Colin already took the win over Liverpool and when I originally wrote this the FA Cup Final hadn’t happened yet. And uh, finding another moment in this season was not easy.

Ultimately I’m settling on a match where United were outshot 24-8, took just two shots in the first half, and only managed 17 touches in the opponents’ box. An opponent that was a mid-table but bottom-half side. That’s the state of this season.

What this match did have was hope. Luke Shaw returned from injury to finally solve that left-back problem (spoiler alert: it was short-lived). Then two minutes into the match Alejandro Garnacho did this.

Then, for the next 70 minutes, we got to watch Kobbie Mainoo. Even if things never turned around for United this season, this match gave us reason to hope it would. More importantly, it provided the origin story for Mainoo and Garnacho to one day be the heroes of Manchester United.

Suwaid Fazal

3-2 win over Aston Villa

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League - Old Trafford Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Damn you, Colin.

I’ll go with the second half against Aston Villa at home. The comeback and Rasmus Hojlund’s first league goal played a part in this pick but there were other games with comebacks and big moments, so why this one? I came out of this game feeling excited about the club’s future.

I base most of my takes on fear: do I think teams fear us when players x, y, and z start for us? Things like that. That attacking unit can cause havoc, even on an off day, against any opposition. Now, that front three — or four if you include Fernandes — is the sort of attacking unit that no team will enjoy facing.

I think the four of them could be quite devastating next season. If they can work on some patterns in pre-season, stay healthy, and have some reliable back-ups, so that they don’t feel like they have to carry the attacking burden of the team all the time, that game could be the making of one of the most frightening attacks in European football.

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