Manchester United Player of the Season Awards (so far)

It’s been a season of mixed emotions for Manchester United fans. From the club’s worst start to a Premier League season ever, to glimpses of the bright future we knew was coming under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Amid the paused football during the coronavirus pandemic, our writers have been asked to pick three winners for the following awards…

  • Player of the Season
  • Most Improved Player of the Season
  • Young Player of the Season

Nathan Ridley

Player of the Season pick: Marcus Rashford

Cast your mind back to August when United had no recognised striker. Where would all the goals come from? Well, Rashford certainly put those fears to rest with the form of his life in a fairly rough winter for Solskjær’s men.
14 goals in 22 Premier League appearances puts him among the division’s elite and when you remember he’s still just 22 years old, it’s staggering how much he carried the Red Devils.
It isn’t just the accumulation of strikes and assists that make him a worthy winner in my book, though, goals against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City reinforced his ability to rise to the occasions in big games, while his finishing became ruthless against weaker opposition.
Also, off the pitch – especially as of late – he’s become a figurehead at the club, signifying his maturity and growth in such a testing campaign, and deserved recognition.

Most Improved Player of the Season pick: Fred

After missing pre-season, most of us assumed another troublesome term for the Brazilian, but we were wrong. Fred broke into the side following Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba’s respective injuries, coming into his own on the big occasions and, albeit with a lack of competition, made himself one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Whenever any player visibly gives 100% every time he crosses the white line, it’s hard to not love them. Although Fred has flair, his dynamism, desire to give his all for his teammates and sheer graft makes him someone vital in this team of United transition.
Proving everyone wrong, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has made as much progress as this man has since the beginning of the season.

Young Player of the Season pick: Brandon Williams

Fast, fair-haired and English, that’s United’s future at left-back. You might be thinking of Luke Shaw but Williams’ stellar start to life in the first-team has changed the dynamic in that corner of the pitch.
Having broken through in September, his tenacious energy made him a fan’s favourite – added to the fact he’s another local academy graduate.
Like, Rashford and Fred, he’s proven himself in the big occasions. Stamford Bridge, Anfield and the Etihad Stadium have all witnessed his quality and forced Shaw into a different role.
Mason Greenwood might be the star of the future and shown class beyond his years but the pressure on Williams in a constantly-tested back line is why he edges it for me.
Like my two prior picks, the passion on show – extra credit for throwing Callum Hudson-Odoi into the stands – goes from him a long way in a campaign which has been less than spectacular.

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Aditya Selvam

Player of the Season pick: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka has been immense this season. His defensive prowess has meant many right wingers just avoid going at him because they know it’s only ending one way. AWB’s performances against City stand out, he essentially took Sterling out of the game. Completely capable of marshaling the right-flank himself, Wan-Bissaka has steadily been improving his offensive game as well. His crosses for Rashford’s goal v Norwich at Old Trafford and for Martial’s goal v Chelsea at Stamford Bridge were spectacular from creating the space with trickery to delivering the cross. He still needs to gain confidence going forward but the signs are promising. An honourable mention must go to Marcus Rashford, who would’ve likely won this award for me had he not gotten injured. However plaudits to Wan-Bissaka, 22 and vying for the award in his first season in United red.

Most Improved Player of the Season pick: Fred

This time last season reports were coming out that Fred only got game time with the Selecao in order to get him his move away from Shakhtar, and lots of questions were going up as to how United ever thought of paying 50m for Fred’s services. A year after and Fred looks a player transformed. He’s a mainstay in Solskjaer’s midfield and has stepped up in the absence of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay. Fred was especially impressive against Manchester City at the Etihad in the Premier League, he was unlucky not to get an assist in that game. There is still development to be made however Fred now looks like a United midfielder.

Young Player of the Year pick: Mason Greenwood

Mason “Starboy” Greenwood, there’s really no other way to describe the young forward. 12 goals and 4 assists in his debut season as a first-team regular is a wonderful return. It’s not often Robin Van Persie himself comments on how similar a player is to him – and if Mason achieves anything similar – United have a magical player on their hands. One for the future. While he currently lacks the physicality to play as a #9 for the first-team, Mason has performed well on the right-flank when called upon. His trademark cut and shoot certainly has me on the edge of my chair whenever Greenwood gets into the box. He has a long way to go but I’m excited to see how he plays alongside Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The United social media channels have used this before, but I can’t wait to see it again, “Marcus. Martial. Mason. Magic.”

Nathan Egerton

Player of the Season pick: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka was under pressure to perform following his £50million move from Crystal Palace last summer, but he has proven his worth this season. The right-back has been a model of consistency in an inconsistent United side, making 34 appearances in all competitions. He has continued to thrive defensively at Old Trafford and is regarded as one of the best one-on-one defenders in the world. Wan-Bissaka has made 99 tackles in the top-flight so far this season and that is the second highest of any player across the division.  His best performances have come in the two league victories against Manchester City with the full-back nullifying the threat of Raheem Sterling on both occasions. The 22-year-old has also shown signs of improvement throughout the season by developing the attacking side of his game. Plenty of players have tried to fill the void left by Gary Neville but Wan-Bissaka looks like his long-term heir at Old Trafford.

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Most Improved Player of the Season pick: Fred

Fred struggled to adapt to English football and endured a difficult debut season at United following his £52million move to Old Trafford in 2018. The Brazilian fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho and remained on the fringes when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, making just 13 Premier League starts in 2018-19. He even failed to make the first four matchday squads of the 2019-20 campaign and nobody expected him to turn things around at Old Trafford. But Fred has proved his doubters wrong and is starting to show why United spent so much money on him. Since returning to the side in October, he has started 22 consecutive Premier League games, emerging as an integral part of the midfield in Paul Pogba’s absence. The 27-year-old has displayed his excellent work ethic and tenacity, with standout performances against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. After being written off ahead of the season, Fred’s transformation over the last few months has been nothing short of remarkable.

Young Player of the Season pick: Mason Greenwood

When United sold Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan last summer, fans were concerned that a replacement wasn’t brought in. But academy graduate Mason Greenwood has stepped up to the plate and repaid his manager’s faith in him. The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country and has seamlessly adapted to first-team football. Solskjaer claimed that Greenwood is the most ‘natural finisher’ at the club, and he has managed 12 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions. The forward is also averaging a goal every 130 minutes in the Premier League and Sergio Aguero is the only player to boast a better record this season. If Greenwood continues to develop at such a rapid rate, he will surely become one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Arvin Amin

Player of the Season pick: Harry Maguire

Although Maguire’s hefty transfer fee must come into consideration at some point, it’s not fair to do so just yet. With only three quarters of a full season played so far, it’s fair to say that we haven’t seen the best of Maguire – even though his very good form in 2020 has coincided with the team looking much more comfortable at the back. The former Leicester man has slotted in well between the two full-backs and is one of the main reasons United have only conceded 2 goals in their last 11 games. The England international also scored two goals in away wins at Tranmere Rovers and Chelsea. Maguire has shown leadership since taking over as captain after Ashley Young’s departure in a way that we haven’t seen for a while. Roy Keane said he’s ‘worried’ whenever a newly-signed player is made captain, hinting that the characters already at the club don’t fit the bill. And perhaps he is right, but Maguire has made a difference with his attitude. The first half of the season should be judged collectively, as should the second half, but striking is that either side of Harry Maguire becoming captain are great contrasts.

Most Improved Player of the Season pick: Marcus Rashford

It’s just over 4 years ago that a skinny kid from Wythenshawe was suddenly thrown into the deep end in a Europa League tie at home to Midtjylland. Rashford has improved each season since then if you look at the stats but this season was the one he took that final step to becoming a world-class player. Lauded by many from inside the club as a very professional guy, you can tell that there’s a different mentality and will to take on more responsibility from Rashford. His 19 goals and 5 assists by January is a fantastic return for someone who was playing in more or less a broken team. Rashford was the top scoring Englishman in all competitions for club and country before suffering a back injury in January. Solskjær’s decision to swap Martial & Rashford’s positions on the pitch has worked wonders for both players and the Englishman never fails to turn up in the biggest games. Goals against Liverpool, Manchester City (x2), Chelsea (x4) and Tottenham (x2) has truly solidified his status as a big-game player. It might seem harsh to not have Fred down as your most improved player but the strides that Rashford has taken in his career in just half a season is not just down to good form, it’s the result of relentless work to improve and be the best version of themselves on the pitch. It’s the kind of mentality Rashford projects and tries to pass on to other people. A role model for kids all over the world and a true ambassador of Manchester United.

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Young Player of the Season pick: Mason Greenwood

There’s not much of a debate when it comes to this award. If the annual end-of-season awards are held whenever the season does draw to a close, it will be the easiest one to call. Those who did not follow Greenwood in his academy days wouldn’t know too much about him going into the season, despite a couple of first-team cameos last season. Greenwood infamously came on against PSG last year with incorrect font on his shirt and started his first game for United on the final game of the season. But it was on United’s pre-season tour that fans really got to see him shine for the first time. Since goals against Perth and Inter, Greenwood has managed to score 11 (!) goals in his first (almost) full season and that’s despite not being a starter. Greenwood has the third best goals-per-minute ratio in the Premier League, behind to only Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy. “Best finisher I’ve ever seen,” said Solskjær and considering the Norwegian was not only a pretty good one himself, he played with Van Nistelrooy, Cantona, Cole, Yorke, Rooney & Ronaldo, that’s high praise for an 18-year old.

Elliott Gembler

Player of the Season pick: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

It’s never easy joining Manchester United for a large fee, but Aaron ‘The Spider’ Wan-Bissaka has handled the move with ease. The level of consistency in his performances puts him up there amongst the very best defenders in the game right now. There were question marks over his attacking ability in the first half of the season, but ever since the Marbella training camp, it’s been clear that area has been targeted to improve. Not only is he pretty much impenetrable down the right-hand side, but he’s now seeking out crosses into the box and making bombing forward runs. To add to that, he’s just 22 years old. He’s going to get better and better.

Most Improved Player of the Season pick: Fred

The Brazilian came into the 2019/20 season with no expectations after a lacklustre 12 months, but he used his doubters to prove he does have the quality to be a Manchester United player. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been very public about his trust in Fred, and that seems to have rubbed off on the player. He’s been a solid option in an injury-riddled midfield, splitting open opposition channels with his eagle eye vision and bypassing the press with his unorthodox style of play. He’s shown the tenacity a United player should show, but there’s still a long way to go before Fred repays his £52m fee. It will be interesting to see what changes now that United have Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay all fit.

Young Player of the Season pick: Mason Greenwood

Star-boy. Wonder-kid. Generational. However you put it, the kid’s special. Some things are meant to be, and Mason Greenwood introducing himself to the world at the age of 17/18 whilst playing for Manchester United is no different. How many players can have their breakthrough season at his age and seem so unfazed by the attention around him? No teenager has scored more Premier League goals (5) than him this season, despite only starting four games. He’s also the club’s leading scorer in the Europa League with five goals. The sky is the limit for Mason.


Player of the Season: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Most Improved Player of the Season: Fred
Young Player of the Season: Mason Greenwood

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