Following their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, United are now a massive 24 points off Manchester City at the top of the table.
That is really not good enough.
The early 2010s must feel like a lifetime ago for United supporters.
In 2011, they secured their 19th league title to ‘knock Liverpool off their perch’ as the most decorated club in England.
Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge and it looked as though United would dominate the Premier League for many years to come.
In fact, back in August 2011, an article was published by Bleacher Report titled: ‘Manchester United: Predicting a Best XI to Win the 2020 Premier League.’
Now, with the Red Devils so far off the pace at the start of 2022, we wanted to revisit that prediction to see how close it really was (Spoiler: Not very close).
Ultimate Man Utd quiz: One question on every member of the Red Devils squad
GK – David de Gea
BR: “Despite his failings, you’d like to think a £15 million goalkeeper would mature into his role eventually. The Spaniard will be 29 in 2020, entering his prime.”
They were spot on.
In 2011, De Gea had only just signed for Manchester United so this is actually a better shout than it first appears.
RB – Rafael
BR: “Rafael will be 30 by 2020 and should be an established leader of the team by that point.”
Rafael actually left the club in 2015 after being deemed surplus to requirements. He’s now at Brazilian club Botafogo.
CB – Phil Jones and Chris Smalling
BR: “Both Vidic and Ferdinand will be retired by 2020. However, Sir Alex Ferguson has made this a pretty simple decision with Jones and Smalling set to take over as the first choices once the current two depart.”
‘A pretty simple decision.’
Well, Jones is still at United at least. However, he’s hardly played for years – although did make a recent appearance against Wolves.
But Smalling is no longer at the club having permanently signed for Roma.
The pair aren’t good enough to form a Premier League-winning partnership in defence.
LB – Fabio
BR: “Evra just turned 30 and therefore won’t be around come the end of the decade. Fabio was superb against West Brom in attack and come 2020 should be the all-round package.”
Fabio was never the ‘all-round package’. Instead, he played 56 times for the club before leaving for Cardiff.
He’s now at French club Nantes after a spell at Middlesbrough.
RM – New signing
BR: “Nani relies on his explosiveness and speed but will be 33 in 2020; I have a hard time believing he’ll still be in the conversation. Valencia is already 26 so he won’t be at Old Trafford either. A new signing is the best bet here.”
Nani is actually still playing in the top-flight, for Venezia in Serie A.
You can’t blame them for not predicting that Mason Greenwood or Jadon Sancho would be in United’s first XI considering they wouldn’t even have been teenagers in 2011.
CM – Tom Cleverley and a new signing
BR: “Cleverley is only 22 and should be an established veteran by 2020, Carrick will be retired, and Giggs may have died of old age. The Anderson experiment will likely have waned thin by that point.
“I’d guess Cleverley’s partner would come from outside the club at the moment.”
Cleverley may be an ‘established veteran’ but not at Man Utd – at Watford.
Their prediction that the other midfielder ‘would come from outside the club’ isn’t strictly true with Scott McTominay coming through the ranks into first-team football.
LM – Ashley Young or a new signing
BR: “As great as Young has been, he’ll be 35 in 2020 and it’s hard to say he’ll still be present when that time comes. Park will be long gone. If not Young, then the solution will most likely come from outside.”
To be fair, Young isn’t long gone and is still playing Premier League football with Aston Villa.
Again, the prediction that the left winger would ‘most likely come from outside’ may not be correct with Marcus Rashford having come through the academy.
ST – Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck
BR: “Rooney will be 34 and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he’s still there as captain and a legend in his final few years at the club. If that’s the case Rooney’s partner would be a then-29-year-old Welbeck.”
Rooney wasn’t still at United in 2020 having left for Everton in 2017.
Meanwhile, Welbeck was sold to Arsenal in 2015 and is now currently at Brighton in the Premier League.