Manchester United's next decade in football has been simulated (2020-2030)

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The decade is coming to a close at Manchester United.

The 2010s started kindly for the Red Devils as they won two Premier Leagues title in 2011 and 2013, only for their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson to hang up his hairdryer.

It's been a rocky road ever since with David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all trying to recapture the magic of old, but only managing an FA Cup or Europa League title at best.

Now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in the Old Trafford dugout and barring a dire run of form before Christmas, the United legend should be leading the club into the new decade.

But will the 2020s treat the Red Devils better and will it finally see them return to the Premier League summit? Only time will tell.

The next decade at Old Trafford?

However, we don't fancy waiting 10 years to find out and the medium of Football Manager 2020 gives us the best possible shot at predicting how United's next decade will unfold.

So, without further ado, here's what happened when the Manchester Evening News ran their FM2020 simulation for United - check it out:

2019/20 season

Transfers in

Solskjaer had Ed Woodward's backing with more money to spend in January, bringing in Feyenoord winger Steven Bergwijn to the tune of £46 million.

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Transfers out

There's something about Phil Jones being flogged to West Ham United for £14 million that seems spot on.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

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Season summary

Miraculously, United managed to turn their early season struggles around, securing a fourth-place finish that was just two points above Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur.

2020/21 season

Transfers in

United seriously rolled the dice in the summer of 2020, shelling out an eye-watering £187 million for Dele Alli, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Bruno Fernandes and Loic Nego.

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Transfers out

Solskjaer was also keen to get rid of some of the deadwood in his squad. Nemanja Matic moved to the UAE on a free transfer, Andreas Pereira went to Stoke and Lingard signed for Wolves on loan.

Best performing XI 

David de Gea, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes, Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford.

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Season summary

United had a fantastic campaign, finishing second in the Premier League with Fernandes scoring 26 goals and bagging a first FA Cup triumph in five years.

2021/22 season

Transfers in

There was an English theme to the club's spending this summer as they spent almost £115 million on Bournemouth's Lewis Cook, Leicester City's James Maddison and Tottenham's Danny Rose.

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Transfers out

In an astonishing summer of exits, Rashford moved to Chelsea for £121 million, Chris Smalling jumped ship to Norwich and McTominay hilariously signed for Mexican club Tigres.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, James Maddison, Paul Pogba, Steven Bergwijn, Bruno Fernandes, Dele Alli and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

United secured third place behind City and Liverpool, lost in the Champions League quarter finals to Barcelona and Solskjaer resigned from his role by mutual consent.

Bafflingly, Jurgen Klopp was chosen as his replacement after being sacked by Liverpool after the 2020/21 season.

2022/23 season

Transfers in

Klopp spent a colossal £304 million during his first summer to secure the services of Federico Chiesa, Ruben Dias, Wilfred Ndidi and Krzysztof Piatek.

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Transfers out

Youngsters Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes were given the boot, Lingard secured a permanent move to Wolves and Daniel James was offloaded to West Ham.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Victor Lindelof, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Paul Pogba, Federico Chiesa, Dele Alli and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

After finishing fourth in the league, Klopp was sacked after just 341 days in charge with a win rate of 57% and former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre came in as his replacement.

2023/24 season

Transfers in

Dayot Upamecano, Jose Gimenez, Gedson Fernandes, Benjamin Nygren and Greg Taylor all arrived for a total of £224 million.

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Transfers out

Ndidi was the notable departure in a £43 million move to Barcelona, while Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe were also given the chop.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Victor Lindelof, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Ferandes, Paul Pogba, Federico Chiesa, Benjamin Nygren, Dele Alli and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

The Red Devils were forced to settle for third behind City and Liverpool despite amassing an impressive tally of 82 points.

2024/25 season

Transfers in

Favre maintained the heavy spending in his second season with Moussa Diaby, Ruben Vinagre, Thomas Buitink, Charly Musonda and Danny Ward linking up for £214 million.

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Transfers out

Maddison made a fairytale return to Norwich for £35 million, Dean Henderson looked for more game time at Newcastle and Diogo Dalot rolled the dice with a Spartak Moscow move.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Dayot Upamecano, Jose Gimenez, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Federico Chiesa, Dele Alli, Stuart Squire and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

Frustratingly, City and Liverpool's duopoly on the Premier League continued, leading Favre to throw in the towel after two seasons. Zinedine Zidane was selected as his replacement.

2025/26 season

Transfers in

Some familiar names linked up with United in the summer of 2025 as Diogo Jota moved from Juventus, Declan Rice waved goodbye to Wolves and Thomas Lemar ditched Atletico Madrid.

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Transfers out

Lindelof was shipped out to Dynamo Kiev after years in the starting XI, Luciano Ferreira also moved to Ukraine and Maguire ended his Old Trafford spell on a free.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Declan Rice, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Federico Chiesa, Thomas Lemar and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

A fifth-place finish in the Premier League made for a nightmare start to Zidane, although Greenwood had now established himself as one of Europe's top strikers.

2026/27 season

Transfers in

Instead of hoarding in swathes of players, Zidane spent a club-record £121 million to procure Frenkie de Jong from Paris Saint-Germain.

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Transfers out

There was a massive £109 million clear out to recoup transfers funds with Jucilei's move to Wolves and Cook's Huddersfield Town transfer proving the most profitable.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Frenkie de Jong, Paul Pogba, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Federico Chiesa, Thomas Lemar and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

A third place finish, a return to Champions League football and an FA Cup victory saw a marked improvement for Zidane during his second season.

2027/28 season

Transfers in

It was a second consecutive summer of quality over quantity for Zidane, who chose to invest over £100 million in Barcelona's Pedri.

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Transfers out

Jota was flogged to Inter Milan after just one season, albeit for a profit, while former Chelsea wonderkid Charly Musounda was moved on to CSKA Moscow for £10 million.

Best performing XI

David de Gea, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Frenkie de Jong, Gedsen Fernandes, Pedri, Federico Chiesa, Thomas Lemar and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

Fourth place marked a steady decline for the Red Devils, but they still regained their Champions League status after reaching and losing a semi-final against Dortmund.

2028/29 season

Transfers in

Wonderkids were the order of the day after Zidane kept his job, bringing in Younes Thouvenin and Arber Morina from AS Monaco and Ajax for over £100 million.

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Transfers out

Alli joined West Ham to end almost a decade of football at Old Trafford, while Ruben Vinagre was moved on to Zidane's former team Real Madrid for £48.5 million.

Best performing XI

Arber Morina, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Frenkie de Jong, Chris Hewitt, Gedsen Fernandes, Federico Chiesa, Thomas Lemar and Mason Greenwood.

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Season summary

Yet another fourth-place finish, but everything felt better after a Carabao Cup triumoh. However, the main talking point was Pogba and De Gea's decisions to retire at ages 36 and 38 respectively.

2029/30 season

Transfers in

Cristian Umeres was the biggest buy of the summer, arriving from Stoke City to the tune of £39 million and was joined by an ageing Ruben Neves who had been plying his trade at Inter Milan.

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Transfers out

Ben Woodburn - yes, that Woodburn from Liverpool - was the most notable departure in a £21 million Newcastle switch.

Best performing XI

Arber Morina, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Frenkie de Jong, Chris Hewitt, Pedri, Thomas Lemar, Federico Chiesa and Younes Thouvenin.

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Season summary

Zidane saw out the decade as United manager with Carabao Cup and FA Cup wins, while guiding the club to another Premier League season in fourth.

United's team of the decade

Arber Morina, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Dayot Upamecano, Ruben Dias, Viraly Mykolenko, Declan Rice, Bruno Fernandes, Dele Alli, Steven Bergwign, Mason Greenwood and Federico Chiesa.

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And breathe. 

Football Manager certainly has some shocks in store for United and although their wait for a Premier League trophy continues, there were plenty of thrills and spills on the way to silverware.

But no matter what the data and simulations suggest, we just can't imagine Klopp taking the job at Old Trafford and being sacked for one of his Dortmund successors within a season. No chance.

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