With Manchester United’s top four place in the Premier League confirmed, and therefore a place in next season’s Champions League too, the club’s attentions will now turn to the transfer market as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to improve his squad ahead of next season.
Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish are both targets for United in this transfer window, which officially opened on Monday.
For a bit of fun, we carried out a Football Manager 2020 simulation to predict what might happen were both players to join United in this transfer window?
Sancho and Grealish ‘sign’ for United in July 2020
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2020 editor to arrange the transfers of both Sancho and Grealish to United on July 1st, 2020, ahead of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign.
The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international, on-the-ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people. Among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.
In addition, each annual iteration of Football Manager has built-in algorithms which check for outliers and data discrepancies. Data accuracy is further ensured by input from contributors who are active within the professional game (players, agents etc.) who provide regular feedback.
This is how Sancho’s profile looks on Football Manager 2020 as of July 2020.
Sancho’s profile shows that the youngster is an outstanding talent with some impressive attributes, which will only improve with more game time.
This is how Grealish’s profile looks on Football Manager 2020 as of July 2020.
Grealish’s profile shows that the midfielder is a very creative player who is capable of breaking down defences in a number of ways, either by dribbling past players to open up space, playing that killer pass or shooting from long range.
We then simulated the 2020/21 season to see how Sancho, Grealish and United would perform.
How Sancho and Grealish performed
Lets take a look at Sancho’s 2020/21 campaign for United, first of all, by reviewing his performance stats.
The 20-year-old was a key part of Solskjaer’s first team, making 51 appearances across all competitions, scoring 13 goals and contributing 10 assists for his teammates. Sancho also had an average match rating of 7.59 across all competitions, putting him amongst United’s top performing players.
Grealish, meanwhile, made 47 appearances across all competitions, scoring 11 goals and laying on 17 goals for his teammates. Grealish’s average match rating was slightly lower than Sancho’s, at 7.22.
What United had bought in Sancho and Grealish were two highly creative talents, with both players featuring among United’s top performers in terms of chances created. In fact, only Bruno Fernandes created more chances than Sancho and Grealish throughout the campaign.
They were also impressive in front of goal too, featuring on United’s top goalscorers list.
Fernandes was the club’s top scorer, followed by Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, but Sancho and Grealish weren’t far behind.
Their performances for United saw them included in United best eleven for the 2020/21 campaign, with the line-up as follows.
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Pogba, Fernandes; Rashford, Grealish, Sancho; Greenwood.
Despite Martial’s impressive goal tally, Greenwood featured due to his higher average match rating.
So, how did this United team perform in the 2020/21 season?
United’s performance in 2020/21
With Sancho and Grealish added to the United squad, Solskjaer’s side were genuine title challengers, fighting for the Premier League trophy all season.
In the end, Liverpool edged out United, beating them to the title by nine points, with United finishing a close second.
United scored the same number of goals as the title winners, but it was Liverpool’s defensive record that won them the Premier League in 2020/21.
But United didn’t end the season trophy-less, as they lifted the Carabao Cup, beating Everton in the final.
In the Champions League, United had a rather disappointing campaign albeit in unfortunate circumstances, losing to AC Milan in the first knockout round on penalties.
Overall though, this Football Manager 2020 simulation suggests that if United were to sign Sancho and Grealish this summer, they could slot straight into Solskjaer’s first eleven and make a big impact in their first campaign, becoming key players for the club.