Manchester United will return to the Champions League this season after they finished third in the Premier League last season.
Despite where they finished it was an unusual season for United. Many would have had them favourites in the Europa League and they were 2-0 up against Sevilla at home in the Quater final but ended up drawing that game and losing the reverse fixture. On top of that, they experienced some heavy defeats including the 4-0 defeat to Brentford and a 7-0 loss to rivals Liverpool.
Some will call it a rebuild, others will say more money has been wasted and others will point to the owners but United will go again this year believing they can once again achieve a Champions League position although I think there are a few clubs who will have different ideas.
Stadium: Old Trafford
Nickname(s): The Red Devils, United.
Founded: 1878 as Newton Heath.
Manager: Erik Ten Hag
Last Season: 3rd
Top Scorer(s): Marcus Rashford (30)
Played for Villa and Manchester United
Mark Bosnich began his career in Australia with Sydney Croatia before being snapped up by Manchester United on a non-contract student visa. He played 3 games for United before returning to Australia with Sydney United briefly in the 1991-92 campaign. The keeper was then snapped up in 1992 by Aston Villa on a free transfer but he didn’t make a stake for a regular place in the first team until the 1993-94 season.
That season his penalty heroics in the League Cup Semi-Final helped Villa get the best of Tranmere in a competition they went on to win. He won a further Cup with Villa in 1996 with a 3-0 win over Leeds United at Wembley and gained a reputation as one of the best keepers in the league.
After seven and a half years and 207 appearances, he left Villa at the end of his contract to rejoin Manchester United on a free transfer. Bozzie had one season as a regular winning the Premier League before falling out of favour and was described by then manager Alex Ferguson as a “terrible professional”.
Bosnich left United after two seasons and went on to have cameo spells with Chelsea, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney Olympic. He retired from the game in 2009.
Similar to Jack Grealish in our Manchester City Pre-Season Focus, could I really leave out Ashley Young from this section? Young came through the Watford academy when he joined the club in 1995 and went on to make 98 appearances before Villa splashed out £9.75 million on the winger.
Young quickly become a fan favourite at Villa Park earning himself a call-up to the England national team. In the 2017-18 season, only Cesc Fabregas got more than Young’s 17 assists in that campaign as he was named in the Premier League team of the season.
His consistently impressive performances earned him a move to Manchester United after four years with Villa, for a fee in the region of £17 million. During his time at Old Trafford, he played 192 games and was eventually converted from a winger to a wing-back. He won the Premier League, EFL Cup, Charity Shield and Europa League at Manchester United but joined Inter Milan for around £1.5 million after 9 years with the Red Devils.
Ashley spent one season in Italy with Inter making 44 appearances and helping them to the Serie A title. In 2021, he returned to Villa for his second spell and became a crucial part of the Villa squad. He spent two seasons back with Villa before joining Everton for a free transfer this summer.
I have a feeling this isn’t the last we will see of Ashley Young at Aston Villa and I would fully expect him to return in a coaching role once he is ready to hang up his boots.
Head to Head
Aston Villa: 51
Manchester United: 104
Last Meeting: Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa (30th April, ’23)
Last Win: Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (6th Novemeber, ’22)
2023/24 Fixtures: H – 10th February ’24, A – 26th December ’23.
IN: Rasmus Højlund (£65 million), Mason Mount (£55 million), André Onana (£45 million), Jonny Evans (Free).
OUT: Anthony Elanga (£15 million), Alex Telles (£4 million), Zidane Iqbal (£1 million), David De Gea (Free), Alex Tuanzebe (Free), Phil Jones (Free).
IN: Sofyan Amrabat from Fiorentina (£25 million), Leon Goretzka from Bayern Munich (£40 million)
OUT: Donny Van De Beek to Roma (£10 million), Harry Maguire to West Ham (£30 million).
Man Utd 2-0 Leeds (July 12)
Man Utd 1-0 Lyon (July 19)
Man Utd 2-0 Arsenal (July 22)
Man Utd 1-3 Wrexham (July 26)
Real Madrid 2-0 Man Utd (July 27)
Man Utd 2-3 Dortmund (July 31)
Man Utd 3-1 Lens (August 5th)
Man Utd 1-1 Athletic Bilbao (August 6th)