Manchester United 2019/20 Squad Ranking

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Coming up with new discussion points can be quite challenging at times like this; when there is no football to be seen on the horizon. But, internet trends sure can help sometimes.

Tier lists went through the typical viral hype phase before cooling off as of late, but that’s no reason not to do one on the current Manchester United squad. It has certainly been an up and down season so far for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. Nobody knows whether it will get finished or not, but United have looked in pretty good nick recently. They’ve been winning, keeping clean sheets and getting the fans on board.

One of the biggest outtakes from this season has been the fans finding an identity within the team again. Debates regarding the manager aside, it felt like the fan base — for the most part — was fully committed and behind the team.

We also witnessed another solid transfer window. And with United still in the running for Top 4 and two trophies, it’s quite safe to say that this season could prove to be a huge building block in the long-term plans of the club.

So, with that, let’s take a look at the players involved this season and assess their roles in the squad based on their performances. There will be five tiers a player can place in: World Class, First Team Quality, Squad Player, Prospect and Not Good Enough. 

Check out the Tier List below:

World Class

This has probably been the most frequent debate to be seen among the United faithful on social media. One of the biggest criticisms of the squads in recent years has been the lack of the world class players. The players that can single handedly win you games and have that X-factor. 
Well, this season, it’s began to look a little better. David De Gea and Paul Pogba are the two names that have always been labeled as world class and they certainly meet the criteria. They’re among the world’s elite in their respective positions and they would likely get into most teams. United fans have also been able to see just how much the midfield suffers without Pogba in the fold. It all of a sudden becomes very ordinary. Therefore, there’s not much of a debate about those two. 
Then, there were a few more players that I was considering for world class status based on just this season alone, but only Bruno Fernandes made the cut. Fernandes has been immense since joining the club in January and he has almost single handedly transformed United’s offensive identity. That’s what players with the X-factor do. It’s still a pretty small sample size, but the impact he’s been able to have with his ability on the pitch and mentality off it cannot be overlooked. 
The other two candidates were Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire. But, I decided to put them at the top of the first team quality tier. They’re both very close but we just need to see a little more. 
Rashford was certainly operating at a world class level for most of the season but he didn’t get a chance to finish it off and authoritatively claim that status. But he can certainly elevate into that tier if he picks up where he left off whenever football is back. 
For Maguire, the skipper, he was too inconsistent at the start of the campaign. Some of his performances were not warranting the hefty price tag United had to cover for him. But, as of late, he has been outstanding. Maguire has been a real leader of this team, embracing his captains role and leading the side from the back, putting him right up there with the world’s best. 
First Team Quality

Looking at this tier in depth, United have quite a few players that could be on the verge of becoming world class in the next five years. The squad is looking a lot fresher and more promising since Solskjaer’s clear out began last summer. The likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood are spearheading this tier just below the aforementioned Rashford and Maguire. 
Wan-Bissaka has been a world-class defender all season, but he just needs to polish out his game a little more in order to become a world-class footballer. You can’t help but get the feeling that United have got a right back for years with him, though. He has been immense since joining the club. 
Martial has looked rejuvenated under Solskjaer. Re-claiming his No. 9 shirt, the Frenchman regained all of his confidence. He has been potent in front of goal again playing a more central role this season and you get the feeling that he could elevate to the world-class level of performance whenever he pleases. He possesses the abilities in abundance. 
Greenwood is barely 18 and he makes the top of the first team quality list comfortably. That should tell you all you need to know about this kid and his talent. His first season in senior football has been excellent. 12 goals in all competitions and some significant contributions to the first-team have secured him a place in the squad for the long-term. And so long as he continues to develop at the pace he has been over the last two years, he will be a world beater before we know it. 
The rest of the players in this tier such as the likes of Scott McTominay, Fred, Axel Tuanzebe or Brandon Williams are just very solid. They’ve become reliable first-team players and even though their potential may not be quite as high as the others, they can form a solid foundation in the spine of this club moving forward. 
Squad Players

There are very much two sides to this list. There are some squad players that are more than good enough to be part of the club’s future and could one day still be first-team quality, and there are also those who are perhaps close to being past their ‘best use’ date. 
Victor Lindelof might be the most controversial name in this tier to some, but hopefully, I can justify my selection. For me, as a defender, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe are both better and also more suitable to playing alongside Harry Maguire. Now, this is no disrespect to Lindelof and his abilities. He’s still an excellent defender and very comfortably a part of my United squad going forward — but just not first choice. With the first XI under the loop and looking to get better with every transfer window, Lindelof is upgradeable, be it internally or with a new signing. The Swede is and has been solid for United over the last year or so. He’s good on the ball and at defending directly, but he’s just not the best, and that’s my biggest issue.
Luke Shaw is in a similar boat. He’s shown that on his day he’s an excellent left-back and more than capable of being a regular for United. But, he hasn’t shown that enough. For whatever reason, be it injuries or issues off the pitch, Shaw can get lost sometimes. Williams at one point looked like he may have finished his compatriot’s career at the club earlier this season. But credit to Shaw, he bounced back. He fought for his spot and has won it back for now. But that doesn’t change the fact that Williams has been more reliable since breaking into the first-team and we need to see more from Shaw to justify his position in the squad moving forward. 
Dan James’s biggest enemy since his arrival at the club has been consistency. He hit the ground running and looked like the steal of the summer transfer window at one point, but then he hit the inevitable road block. He was never meant to play as much as he has and he simply burned out. But the Welsh winger has looked better again as of late and he will certainly one day elevate into the first-team quality level. His blistering pace and work rate are invaluable qualities at teams such as United and to the way they want to play and therefore, James’ status at the club should be comfortable. 
Then, we have the likes of Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard. Players that are still very capable of contributing, but we just don’t know if that will carry on in the long-run. Matic has been sensational in recent weeks but that came after looking completely finished at the start of the season. Mata has shown glimpses of what he is still capable of here and there but far too inconsistently. And Lingard, a Manc born and bred, has just totally lost his mojo. It’s sad to see because as fans you want nothing more than to see the local lads succeed, but Jesse just looks lost at the moment. We all know what he’s capable of, particularly in the big games, but he just can’t seem to get back to that Lingard of two seasons ago who was a big contributor in that United side. His status at the club is certainly the most touch and go and it’ll be interesting to see what decision the club makes regarding his future moving forward. 

This tier was an interesting one because United have quite a few prospects waiting in the ranks. Tim Fosu-Mensah has not featured once this term but makes it as a prospect for me (just about) because of what we’ve seen him do in a United shirt before. There is certainly a player there. He was fearless and composed beyond his teenage years when debuting under Louis Van Gaal and if United can get that player back, he can be a very useful asset to the first team. But, injuries and some unfortunate loan spells have pegged back his development significantly, meaning this summer may be his final chance to salvage his United career. 
As for James Garner, he has been impressive every time he’s featured for United. He always looks composed, never pulls out of a tackle and is very good on the ball. It’s disappointing that he hasn’t gotten more chances in the first-team considering United’s midfield issues, but he’s definitely one for the future. And even though he looks ready for the first team, right now, Garner probably needs a loan. A year of regular football in the championship could do him the world of good and prepare him for more first team action at United. But, he’s one you should definitely keep tabs on in the next few years.
Players such as Ethan Laird or Dylan Levitt just haven’t played enough. But we all know that they are exciting prospects without a doubt. 
Lastly, a quick word on Angel Gomes. He has not played anywhere close to the amount of games that we were expecting at the start of the season. Gomes really was the one a lot of United fans were excited about this season and it just never happened for him. Contract issues can often hinder a young player’s progress and that has very much been the case here. Uncertainty over his future has discouraged United from giving him first team minutes while injuries have not allowed Gomes to continue his domination at the youth level. And still, nobody knows whether he’s staying or going. 
Not Good Enough 
The most disappointing tier for me, as a fan, because you never wish anyone failure at the club you support. Ideally, everyone who ever comes through the first-team can contribute and make it. But, all too often, there are players who just simply haven’t got it. Not necessarily bad footballers but just not good enough for the level required at Manchester United. 
The likes of Andreas Pereira and Marcos Rojo seem like they have what it takes in terms of ability. They’re both very sound technically and good at some little things necessary in their respective positions. But, the pressure of being at United is sometimes enough to make players shy and unable to showcase their skills properly. 
Pereira has everything that you’d want in a world class midfielder in his locker. Agility, determination, skills, passing, control, dribbling. They are all there. But, for whatever reason, once he pulls on the United shirt, a lot of those qualities fade. His decision making becomes very questionable and he too often struggles to find the right pass. It’s unfortunate but he just has not justified his position at the club in his time in the first team. He did sign a new contract recently though which could suggest that he will not be leaving the club in the foreseeable future. 
Then there are players such as Tahith Chong and Diogo Dalot — young and could still very much turn their fortunes at the club around but who just do not look good enough. It too often feels like United is a level too high for them. Chong’s standout performances from the reserves struggle to translate into the first team while Dalot just hasn’t been able to break into the team as a regular because of injuries and some poor performances. But again, Chong just signed a new deal and Dalot has a while left on his contract, so their United future’s are very much in their own hands. 
Lastly, Phil Jones. Once dubbed as potential future England captain, his career at United has just not gone right. Despite featuring in league winning sides, he will always be associated with the bad times at the club. The countless mistakes and seemingly never ending injury issues have forever put a stain on his time at United and it just feels like a move away and a fresh start could do him the world of good. It has gotten to a point where Jones, who is soon due for a testimonial at the club, himself jokingly said that he feels like nobody but his family would show up for it. That’s sad and you never want a player at your club to feel that way. You hate to see other humans get abuse from millions of fans online every time they play and it really might be the best case scenario for Jones to seek a move away in the summer. 
Lee Grant is a club legend. 

Author: TUD Author