Opinion: Despite the result, there is cause for optimism at United

Sunday 04 June 2023 10:55

When the final whistle blew in the FA Cup final, mixed emotions rushed over me.

Of course, losing narrowly to our local rivals at Wembley Stadium was gut-wrenching, but when you take an aerial view, the overall picture of 2022/23 is a lot more positive than that initial feeling immediately after the match concluded.

The pandemonium of the City end was juxtaposed by the despair in the United side of the arena, but there is plenty of good to take from an incredibly long and fruitful season - the first one under the tutelage of Erik ten Hag.

‘We’ll be stronger next season’


The Reds react after a difficult outing against Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

United finished the campaign having played 62 matches - not counting mid-season friendlies or those who participated at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - and now our players will take a well-earned break.

We are back in the Champions League for next year, having finished third in the Premier League, as Erik achieved one of the key objectives he set when he arrived at Old Trafford from Ajax last summer.

Add to that the Carabao Cup success over Newcastle in February and, in my opinion, Ten Hag's inaugural campaign in charge can be deemed a resounding success.

While a second trophy would have added a cherry on the top of what has been a remarkable season for everyone connected with United, it was never going to define our year.

The wait goes on for a domestic-cup double campaign - a feat I can't believe hasn't been achieved at such a successful club over the years - but to have finished in the Premier League's top four and lifted our first silverware for six years, it's safe to say Erik has had a positive impact at United.

And he's just getting started.

'Erik can take us forward even more'


Fraizer Campbell and Wes Brown are full of praise for United, after what has been a gruelling season.

The Dutchman's blueprint is beginning to become clearer, with the breakthrough of Alejandro Garnacho, the rejuvenation of Marcus Rashford, and the acquisition of Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez all standing out as key triumphs for the boss during his first year in M16.

As attention naturally looks ahead to the future, our players will only benefit from another pre-season under Erik and his staff, with the aim of making more progress next season.

After the FA Cup final, Ten Hag said he felt that the whole club had moved forward in 2022/23, but added that "we have to do better and we have to make progress during the summer".

The raw feeling of the defeat to City may hurt now, but there is plenty of cause for optimism for next season at Manchester United, and beyond.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.