Manchester United
Manchester United – State of the season
Steve Barber
72 days ago
Man Utd's season has been a rollercoaster ride, but most fans would have taken their current position at the start of the campaign.

Where they stand

United are in contention to qualify for the Champions League next season from the two routes that are open to them - and that would have been the requirement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transitional squad when it all kicked off in August.

No-one seriously expected United to get close to Liverpool or Man City in the title race, but the fact that the Red Devils have done the double over their cross-city rivals has been a cause for great optimism.

Solskjaer actually got the better of Guardiola three times, and likewise Frank Lampard, so United will fancy their chances of overhauling Chelsea and grabbing fourth spot.

What's left to play for?

The Europa League looks well within the side's compass and they are rightly tagged as favourites to pick up the trophy they won in 2016 again after a first-leg demolition of LASK in the last 16.

Whatever format the competition takes on its resumption, United will not fear any of the clubs still left in the draw.

The FA Cup could also provide Solskjaer with a glorious finale to his first full season in charge. United pulled a plum draw out of the hat in the last eight when they were pitted against Premier League bottom club Norwich City.

Best game

There has been a tactical evolution under Solskjaer that gives cause for more optimism than latterly under Jose Mourinho or in Louis van Gaal's entire tenure at the club, when the football on show was bland.

United are in a far better state than when they began the campaign and may finally be on the right track to become Premier League title contenders once again.

Arguably United's best result came in their most recent Premier League match - the 2-0 home defeat of Manchester City, which thrilled a packed Old Trafford more than ever before under Solskjaer.

Star man

Beyond the results and growing anticipation of a strong finish to the season, United have also seen vital leaders emerge to fill a gaping void that had been left since the exits of Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic. Harry Maguire wasn't playing like an £80million defender for a few months after he arrived, but his form and leadership since the turn of the year has been just what the club needed.

Bruno Fernandes has also been crucial in this department and United no longer look like a team that could totally crumble if they concede the first goal with these two in the line-up.