Manchester United have a squad that is good enough to compete for titles and trophies. Their primary rivals, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, are currently above them, having set such a high standard of performances that it now takes around 95 points to clinch a title.
The Red Devils are in desperate need of an experienced holding midfielder as well as a right-back before they can start convincingly competing in the Premier League and the Champions League. On top of that, the issues in the attacking department are staring to slowly rise, which the board need to address as well as the other areas.
With Anthony Martial potentially moving away this month, Edinson Cavani’s contract coming to an end in the summer and Cristiano Ronaldo now 36, Manchetser United only have Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga as the only recognised strikers with a long term future. The drop off in quality from the two veterans should be regarded as a huge concern and the young attackers have a lot of work to do before they can be seen as regular starters.
Rashford has shown his ability to score goals and provide an attacking threat on the counter, yet he doesn’t provide hold up play or the intelligence to become the side’s first option as the number nine. He has also been below par since returning to the team after spending a few months on the sidelines, leaving doubts on whether he will return to his 2019/20 form or not.
Then there is Elanga whose true potential is yet to be known. He will need a season or two out on loan before he can be considered in United’s plans. Greenwood is the likeliest candidate to be successful in the role but the team will have to be built around his strengths. He will also have to become more active off the ball, rather than waiting for the ball to come to feet.
A lot of questions have been raised in relation to the decision making and thinking process of the Manchester United board, who seemingly brought Ronaldo in the summer, purely to prevent him the embarrassment of him joining the noisy neighbours Manchester City. Although a side should not turn down the opportunity of buying one of the best players of all time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not go into the transfer window looking for a forward.
A similar situation had occurred with the arrival of Cavani. Solskjaer was looking to acquire the services of both Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho in the summer of 2020 but the board failed to deliver upon his request. It left the former Molde FK and Cardiff City manager with no choice but to accept the signing of the Uruguayan international, who came to Old Trafford on a free transfer four weeks into the season, despite being available throughout the whole summer period.
The signings of Cavani and Ronaldo were short-term solutions to a long term problem, which does not come up as a surprise from a board who are typically slow to act and react. It leaves Manchester United in quite a mess, with a lack of planning failing to solve their issues and. Signing aging stars on big money leaves United constantly patching up their side and until they implement a better strategy they will continue to move one step forward and three steps back.
Ralf Rangnick, who is managing Manchester United for the remainder of the season before moving into the board to a consultancy role on a two-year deal, has a huge responsibility to help the club head into the right direction on and off the pitch.
From dealing with the big-name players and the squad’s mentality issues, to fixing the board’s lack of ambition and incompetence. The 63-year-old German has his work cut out given how far the club have fallen since the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Manchester United need to be proactive with their transfer window planning for the side to be dominant and successful on the pitch again. Given that the likes of Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid will be looking for a centre forward in the summer, the Red Devils will have to be a step ahead with the number of world class strikers probably limited to Dusan Vlahovic, Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.
If the club fail to learn lessons, they will continue to overpay for players who are not considered as the best within their positions, as they previously have done for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Fred. Had the negotiation period been completed by genuine experts and not by the board or Ed Woodward, the club would have saved just over £50million in transfer fees on these three players they brought in 2018 and 2019.
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