Manchester United wound up without any trophies and a sixth-place finish, sandwiching a few uplifting weeks of hope with another frustrating season–one that signals more big changes coming this summer.

By 90Min
May 14, 2019

Manchester United concluded the 2018-19 season with a 2-0 home defeat against relegated Cardiff on the final day of the campaign, arguably a perfect summary of the previous 10 months.

Manchester United wound up without any trophies and a sixth-place finish, sandwiching a few uplifting weeks of hope with another frustrating season–one that signals more big changes coming this summer.

Here's a look back at the season as a whole and an overall grade for the club's report card.


League Performance

Premier League - Sixth

United finished outside the Premier League top four for the fourth time in six seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and experienced a big fall from last year's second-place finish.

Ending 2018-19 32 points behind champions Manchester City shows just how much United have failed to improve in the last six years. It is the biggest gap between United and the top of the table since 'three points for a win' was introduced into English football in 1981.

This was also the club's leakiest season since 1978-79 as it conceded 54 goals.

Stu Forster/GettyImages

Not only did United finish bottom of the 'big-six mini league' after only one win against their direct rivals, the club also lost to Cardiff, Everton, Wolves, West Ham and Brighton. The season also finished with five successive games without a win, perhaps a perfect indicator of the need for major changes.

That being said, it wasn't all doom and gloom. Between Jose Mourinho's sacking in December and the wheels coming off in mid-March, United managed to go 12 Premier League games unbeaten, winning 10 of them and actually playing like something resembling a good team, at least temporarily.


Domestic Cup Performance

Carabao Cup - Third Round

United was knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Derby County after a third-round penalty shootout, the fourth time in the last five years it has lost to lower-league opposition following eliminations at the hands of MK Dons, Middlesbrough and Bristol City.

That game also saw Paul Pogba left out by Mourinho. The Frenchman was seen laughing and joking during the game in which his teammates were struggling, and led to an apparent flashpoint with the manager in training later that week.

Gareth Copley/GettyImages

FA Cup - Quarterfinals

United was cruising through the early rounds of the FA Cup in the early weeks of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign and looked as though it might seriously challenge for the trophy.

A comfortable 2-0 third-round win at Old Trafford against Reading was followed up by impressive away victories over Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.

A quarterfinal at the Molineux then stood between United and a semifinal at Wembley, but Wolves appeared to tactically outclass Solskjaer and won the tie. The 2-1 scoreline flattered United.

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Continental Cup Performance

Champions League - Quarterfinals

United's Champions League season was bizarre to say the least, going from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again during the course of the campaign.

The group stage alone included one comfortable and one laborious win over Young Boys, a shock away win against Juventus, and two dismal showings against Valencia.

Michael Steele/GettyImages

The season ultimately provided a first Champions League two-legged knockout tie win since 2014 and only a second since 2011 after something of a continental drought.

It was Paris Saint-Germain that came out of the hat for the last 16. A 2-0 home defeat in the first leg looked to have sealed United's elimination, but, despite missing 10 first team players through injury and suspension, it somehow became the first team in Champions League history to win a knockout tie after losing by at least two goals in the first leg at home.

The scenes in Paris after Marcus Rashford converted a last-ditch penalty that was only awarded when VAR intervened will live long in the memory and is this season's best moment by far.

Julian Finney/GettyImages

United subsequently faced Barcelona at the quarterfinal stage and missed an opportunity to capitalize on a poor performance from the Catalans in the first leg at Old Trafford. Barça escaped with a 1-0 aggregate lead, and United wilted at Camp Nou, losing 4-0.


Best Player

Stu Forster/GettyImages

There are few contenders for 'best player' in such a poor campaign. That Paul Pogba should be United's best player by far, despite being heavily criticized for a perceived lack of effort and tendency to turn in anonymous performances fairly regularly, speaks volumes about the level that the squad has been allowed to drop to over the last decade.

Pogba was United's leading scorer with 16 goals in all competitions, he also led the team in assists and chances created and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. But fans still got the impression he was holding something back and has another level to go to.


Worst Player

OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Alexis Sanchez has caused far more problems for United than simply an atrocious return on the pitch since his arrival from Arsenal a little around 16 months ago.

The Chilean was afforded the benefit of the doubt after arriving midway through last season, with the hope that a first summer in several years without an international tournament and a full preseason with his new teammates would lay the foundations for an excellent 2018-19.

The reality has been the opposite. Rarely fit, he started just nine Premier League games all season and was a shadow of the player he was at Arsenal whenever he did get on the pitch.

It isn't directly his fault, but Sanchez's enormous £500,000 weekly salary has also had a devastating impact at Old Trafford, shattering the wage structure and causing United no end of problems in getting key players to commit their future to the club.


The Manager(s)

Jose Mourinho, until December 18

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

When Mourinho claimed finishing second in the Premier League last season with this United squad was perhaps his greatest achievement, people laughed. By the time he was sacked and the lack of quality and mental strength he had to work with was shining through, those same people wondered if he might have actually been right all along.

Mourinho had plenty of flaws, notably in terms of man management in the changing environment that is modern professional football, but the club also failed to back him last summer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after December 19

OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Solskjaer was a breath of fresh air when he first took over, reinvigorating a squad that appeared spent under his predecessor. In hindsight, his arrival papered over the cracks.

What Solskjaer still has is the benefit of the doubt. He will attempt to rid the current squad of the expensive deadwood that has accumulated, but whether the club structure that remains unfit for purpose in 2019 will allow him to build a team worthy of winning trophies remains to be seen.

It could take four or five years for the new United to emerge, but will Solskjaer get that time?


Overall Grade

That historic night in Paris, two very good FA Cup results and the first 10 weeks under Solskjaer in general stop this grade from being any worse. Make no mistake, this season was truly awful on and off the pitch and things absolutely must change this summer.

D -

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