It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines of Ralf Rangnick’s recent comments about Manchester United and see what the club needs to change.
Maybe the German secretly wishes that he’d been given funds himself in January to begin the process of strengthening the United squad; either way he’s pragmatic enough to know the club want a new long-term manager and that his own role di lui will be purely advisory. So he’s already started doing as such from his position di lui as interim boss.
Mentioning the transfer window in his comments after the defeat to Man City, and the need to “develop” the squad is fair enough from Rangnick. It alerts the club’s hierarchy to the deep-rooted issues that are plaguing the club and leaving an enormous deficit between United and the teams, like City and Liverpool, they aspire to catch one day.
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It cannot be done with the squad in its current state. Rangnick knows this, and he would appear to know a top-four finish might even be beyond this fragmented squad.
Too many players (Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani) already have one eye on the summer, knowing they will be leaving. A number of others (Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire) have been miles off their best football this season and appear distracted. And that’s before even getting to loaned-out duo Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek, whose futures are uncertain, or the unfavoured trio of Dean Henderson, Nemanja Matic and Eric Bailly. Then there’s the Cristiano Ronaldo situation (more on that later).
Chris Sutton isn’t usually a pundit whose opinion holds much sway with United fans – and nor should he be – but his assessment that United should sell 10 players this summer wasn’t far off the money. If you factor in Pogba, Lingard, Cavani and Juan Mata leaving when their contracts expire and accept that Martial and Van de Beek will move on, that’s six players already that need replacing. United usually sign three or four as a maximum each summer.
Maybe Martial will return if his loan spell at Sevilla is successful and if Ronaldo chooses to depart after a solitary year in Manchester – which looks more likely by the passing week. Either way, with Cavani leaving – not to mention the Mason Greenwood situation – United will need a new young striker, a point Rangnick has stressed. Martial cannot be the first choice No. 9.
Signing three midfielders, a back-up keeper to replace Henderson and that striker should be just the start of things. Then there are the issues with the defense that might persuade United to seek new additions at center-back and right-back.
The club might have to cut their cloth accordingly and move away from expensive targets like Declan Rice and Erling Haaland. But that’s where Rangnick’s expertise comes in.
United now have the ideal man to help them succeed in the transfer market. It has transpired that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ‘cultural reboot’ was built on sand and it’s Rangnick’s task to oversee a proper rebuild.
Sometimes, the best option is to rip it up and start again. Wreck it, Ralf.
Possible 25-man United squad for next season:
Goalkeepers: De Gea, New goalkeeper, Heaton
Defense: Dalot / Wan-Bissaka, New right-back, Varane, Lindelof, Maguire, New center-back, Shaw, Telles.
Midfield: New midfielders x 3, Fred, McTominay, Fernandes, Garner, Hannibal.
Forwards: Sancho, Ronaldo / Martial, Elanga, Rashford, New striker, Amad.
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