It is undeniable that the first season has been mediocre for Donny van de Beek in Manchester, but on the last day of the season he gave a glimpse of the untapped potential that has yet to be unleashed.
He wasn’t helped by the fact that he missed out on a ‘good’ preseason following his arrival from Ajax, coupled with a busy fixture list that gave him few opportunities to adjust to. the new tactical responsibility that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants him in this Manchester United team.
Freed from the shadows of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, the Dutchman excelled at Molineux with a dynamic display that saw him bond well with his teammates while also driving in the Wolves defense, certainly signs of promise for the months to come.
A second season can often be the cancellation of newcomers to the Premier League, but for Van de Beek it could just be the creation of him in this United side.
United may already know Europa League final XI
A late fitness test for Harry Maguire might be the only mitigating factor ahead of the Europa League final on Wednesday night, but other than that Solskjaer should already have his roster in mind.
The last day of the season has traditionally been a chance for a change and it’s the one Solskjaer made the most of against Wolves on Sunday afternoon with ten changes for a rubber draw.
David de Gea is set to start at Gdansk in two days as all four backs are as strong as they can get, Bailly’s new contract suggests he is likely to partner Victor Lindelof if the club captain does not pass a late fitness test .
Fred and Scott McTominay are the safe, disappointing midfield bet Fernandes hardly worth mentioning given he is this team’s talisman. Up front it will likely be Pogba on the left with Rashford on the right and Cavani in the middle.
Even before the Wolves game on the final day, it seemed pretty obvious how United would line up for the biggest game of their season. Now it’s just up to Villarreal to try to stop them.
Fluid front line
During his first pre-season at the club, Solskjaer underscored the desire to see United adopt a fluid frontline without any player particularly stuck in a role. It is clear that he still wants to have that option.
Of course, that initial change came before Romelu Lukaku’s inevitable departure from the club and may not be as viable when Edinson Cavani is on the pitch.
Yet in some matches fluidity will be more important than a static focal point in the center, Solskjaer certainly has players capable of fulfilling such a tactical approach within his first team.
A forward three from Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial is still the best to do it, but now there might be the option to add Amad, Anthony Elanga and Daniel James into that mix.
A look to the future
Another key part of Solskjaer’s philosophy has been his inclusion of young talent and late against Wolves we got to see two more stars from the future.
Hannibal Mejbri would have made his debut earlier in the year without an unfortunate shoulder injury while in action for U23, despite not being eligible to play in the Europa League having not been with the club long enough to be on List B.
His long-awaited debut is another exciting tease ahead of next season with the former teenager AS Monaco, a player who could be set for a more regular role in the squad if he manages to try his luck in the pre-season. season.
In contrast, there were only seconds left for Will Fish as the young center-back arrived on the pitch in stoppage time, but his late cameo made him the 16th academy graduate to make his senior debut. since Solskjaer took over as interim boss.
The future is bright, the future is red.
Undefeated away record
The fact that United were able to make ten changes for the game against Wolves not only highlights the enviable depth of their side, but also perhaps Solskjaer was not. too much set for the entire Premier League season without defeat away.
He is firmly focused on winning the Europa League on Wednesday night, but the fact that United managed to make history with a second-string selection is a worthy reward for the squad they’ve assembled in two years and half.
Whatever happens later this week, no one will be able to take away the fact that United are now just the fourth team to go undefeated away from home during an entire high profile campaign in England.