Man United’s 2021/22 Premier League season simulated after inactive January window

Following the conclusion of the January transfer window, Manchester United will be hoping they can retain their top-four spot in the Premier League.

United had a quiet January transfer window with the Reds opting to stick with the squad they have at their disposal for the remainder of the season, but the planning and preparation for the summer transfer window is already under way.

The Reds were linked with numerous players with the likes of Luis Diaz, Declan Rice and Boubacar Kamara being mentioned as possible incomings, but no incoming deals materialized.

Jesse Lingard was rumored to leave the club in the January transfer window with the 29-year-old out of contract in the summer, but United blocked Lingard from leaving the club despite strong interest from Newcastle and West Ham.

So, what could happen in the remainder of the 2021/22 Premier League season for Rangnick’s side? Will their lack of signings make a difference to United’s hopes of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League?

Let’s see what happened!

Man United’s season simulated following January transfer window

To simulate the remainder of the season, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to update all teams, managers and playing squads of all Premier League teams. We then simulated from the end of the January transfer window in-game until the end of the 2021/22 season.

We used the Football Manager 2022 editor to replicate the current Premier League table as it is in real life, with the correct results for every fixture so far in the 2021/22 season. All in-game statistics shown from our simulated season are taken between February 1, 2021 and May 31, 2021.

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Here’s what happened.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return was key to United’s performance throughout the 2021/22 season, as the Portuguese ace scored 19 goals and registered seven assists for the Reds in just 31 appearances.

Man United's top performers in the 2021/22 season.
Man United’s top performers in the 2021/22 season.

Ronaldo was by far United’s best performer in the 2021/22 season, recording 26 goal contributions in all competitions following the January transfer window.

Ronaldo, who turns 37-years-old soon, proved age is just a number with his impressive and consistent performances for United, averaging a match rating of 7.57, more than the likes of Bruno Fernandes (7.46), Jadon Sancho (7.47) and Marcus Rashford (7.23).

Marcus Rashford had a stellar second half of the season, nailing down a starting spot in attack alongside Ronaldo, scoring 15 goals and registering four assists in 29 appearances in all competitions.

Rashford’s goal tally is even more impressive considering the striker only had an average xG score of 8.71, showing just how clinical the 24-year-old was in front of goal. Jesse Lingard chipped in with five goal contributions in the second half of the season after being unable to leave the club in January, whilst summer signing Jadon Sancho finished the season strong as he scored two goals and registered nine assists.

United’s most notable results included their trip to the Etihad, which ended in defeat after an early Kevin De Bruyne strike made the difference, as City continued their charge towards the title with a dominating display against their rivals in red.

Key results for United as they finished fourth.
Key results for United as they finished fourth.

United’s form did pick up against Liverpool and Spurs, with the trip to Anfield ending in a 2-2 draw after a frantic opening half an hour as goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes canceled out Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino’s strikes for the home side. And it was a crazy first half that saw United take all three points against Antonio Conte’s Spurs side, as Fernandes, Ronaldo and Rashford all scored in the first half following an early Harry Kane brace.

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At the end of the 2021/22 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Man United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics.

This is how the best United XI looked at the end of the 2021/22 season according to FM22.

Manchester United's best XI at the end of the 2021/22 season.
Manchester United’s best XI at the end of the 2021/22 season.

Full Man United best XI (4-2-2-2): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Fernandes, Sancho; Rashford, Ronaldo.

Diogo Dalot replaced Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right back to feature in Man United’s best XI for the 2021/22 season, with Rangnick preferring the Portuguese defender ahead of the Englishman. Summer signing Jadon Sancho partnered Fernandes in supporting Rashford and Ronaldo in attack.

Here’s how the 2021/22 Premier League table looked at the end of May 2022.

Manchester United finished fourth in the Premier League.
Manchester United finished fourth in the Premier League.

Manchester United finished the 2021/22 Premier League season in fourth, winning four of their last five games to secure Champions League football for next season.

United had the third-best goalscoring record in the Premier League, but conceded more goals than any other team inside the top six, suggesting the efforts of Ronaldo, Rashford and Fernandes carried United into the top four, with the Reds finishing six points ahead of Arsenal in fifth.

The Reds finished 16 points behind rivals Man City, matching the form of second-place side Liverpool in their last five games of the season. United only lost two of their remaining 16 games as their form improved, with their defeats coming against Man City and Brighton, as Rangnick’s side picked up points against the likes of Liverpool and Spurs.

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Overall, United finished fourth in the Premier League which could be seen as a success considering the Reds’ poor first half of the season.

Rangnick was able to lead United to Champions League qualification despite not signing any new players in the January transfer window, but their goals conceded tally suggests midfield and defensive additions are needed in the summer.

Would you be happy with this outcome at the end of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign? Let us know in the comments below!

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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