Manchester United have enjoyed plenty of highs this year but have also powered through some dark times. There were few dark days but the players reacted in a positive manner, which may explain why they are sat second in the Premier League table at the end of 2020.
Our writers have chosen their most memorable match of the year with reasons as to why. There were spirit-lifting victories, dull defeats and morale building moments throughout them all, so which matches have our writers picked?
Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United
The most memorable United game of 2020 has to be the 2-0 win against Leicester on the last day of the season.
This was not the most attractive or dominant display by any means, but it was arguably the most significant win of the season. With the top four race coming right down to the wire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in need of a win to potentially keep his job, the players showed true hunger and desire to grind out a result when it mattered most.
The top four looked virtually unreachable for the majority of the season, so to complete a smash and grab at the final hurdle was an extremely satisfying way to end what could have been another incredibly disappointing season.
This game could be signalled as the catalyst for the current side to kick on and start collecting trophies. Despite the fact that the Europa League trophy was expected to return to Manchester last season, and United are already out of the Champions League this campaign, securing third place on the last day against all the odds was a real statement of intent from this side and the benchmark for greater things to come.
Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City
In a stadium packed full of people blissfully unaware of the difficulties that would lie ahead, Manchester United hosted Manchester City in what would prove to be the last time fans would take to the stands at Old Trafford for a long, long time.
Pandemics aside, United were looking to make it three wins out of four in all competitions over their fierce rivals and with exciting new arrival Bruno Fernandes, many on the red half of the city fancied their chances.
The deadlock was broken midway through the first half as the aforementioned Fernandes dinked a delightful free kick into Anthony Martial’s path, who made no mistake with the finish. United looked to cling on for the remainder of the game as City inevitably upped the ante. However, with the last kick of the game, Scott McTominay capitalised on Ederson’s poor clearance to fire home a second from distance. The goal sent the stands into rapture as the atmosphere grew to an intensity unseen at Old Trafford for years prior. The perfect way to say a temporary goodbye to the fans, and the perfect way to silence those noisy neighbours.
Manchester United 0-2 Burnley
It was definitely not the most memorable game from 2020, but the 2-0 defeat to Burnley in January was the blessing in disguise that was needed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, as it proved the necessity for the club to go out and buy Bruno Fernandes, who altered the course of the 2019-20 campaign.
Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez were the scorers for Sean Dyche’s side, as they embarrassed an appalling Manchester United side, with the Reds looking void of confidence going forward and lost for ideas on how to change the game.
However, the fall-out saw the United board purchase both Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo in the final days of the January transfer window (the latter of the two on a short-term loan), and the signing of Fernandes reinspired United as they began a memorable charge up the league standings, eventually finishing third.
If United had beaten Burnley on that cold night in January, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not have remained in his post – would Ed Woodward and Matt Judge have signed Fernandes following a victory? Given the late stages of the transfer window, it is arguable that the answer would have been no. Fernandes changed United’s season – and that’s why a 2-0 defeat to Burnley was the most important game of 2020.
Sheffield United 2-3 Manchester United
2020 has been a torrid, forgettable, and surreal year for everybody.
There’s only one Premier League footballer, who has shined a light both on and off the pitch is Marcus Rashford. The 23-year-old became a national hero in 2020 and his campaign against child hunger raised millions of pounds for charity, and influenced government policy. The Manchester United forward received an MBE for his outstanding and exceptional contribution to young children.
In the last month of the calendar year, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side went to Bramall Lane to bottom side Sheffield United.
The Red Devils went on to win 3-2 over Sheffield United to climb up to the sixth position in the Premier League. But it was the Rashford show as his brace proved to be a difference in securing the three points for his team.
United made a sloppy start to the game. Former Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson gifted the home side an opening goal after five minutes, when Oliver Burke blocked his clearance which allowed David McGoldrick to tap the ball into the empty net.
It almost got worse when the home side came close to extend their lead, when John Fleck’s low-range effort went agonisingly wide.
Since Fleck’s miss, United started to dominate most parts of the game.
The Red Devils equalised through Rashford in the 26th minute, Victor Lindelof released a long ball through to Rashford, who smashed the ball home past Aaron Ramsdale.
It didn’t take long for United to get their second goal of the game. French international Anthony Martial’s low effort beats Ramsdale, after meeting fellow compatriot Paul Pogba’s fine pass.
United produced a swift counter-attack and earned their third through Rashford, who slotted the ball home under the diving Ramsdale.
The home side pulled a goal back when McGoldrick headed home from a corner, to get into the game and were pushing for an equaliser.
United earned the victory and all three points, after a patchy start which saw Solskjaer position under threat followed by Champions League exit and a slow start to their domestic campaign. However, United’s early struggles didn’t affect their current away form as it has been a saving grace.
It was down to the man of the year Marcus Rashford, who finished his year with another headline and man of the match performance. For all United fans, it is a year to remember Rashford impact on the team and the wider society.