There can be no sugar-coating the dismal nature of Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League this week, though it did at least make the picture even clearer when it comes to forward planning.
United no longer have the faint excuse of delaying crucial decisions given there was the slight possibility of winning Europe’s premier club prize this season, nor do they have any way of trying to twist this current season into one associated at all with any success.
The cold, hard truth is that United failed, having naively backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. They had no contingency plan to replace him, and are now just as bad under the man who was elected to replace him on an interim basis.
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Following the exit from the Champions League club officials can now distance themselves from Ralf Rangnick as a long-term solution and insist he was never in the frame to get the permanent role at the end of the season. That might well have changed had the Premier League form improved and the club had reached a more respectable stage in cup competitions.
What should concern supporters is that Rangnick, the man intended to advise the club in regards to their next permanent manager, appears so out of the loop on the current plans.
“We haven’t spoken about it to be honest,” he told reporters ahead of defeat to Man City earlier this month. “We have had one or two meetings with the head of scouting and two other people. I think you will understand that I will not speak about that in detail about the possible new manager, we haven’t spoken about it.”
If those conversations haven’t been held yet, then they have to be over the next fortnight, with United in a position to be able to accelerate plans to hire their next permanent manager during the upcoming international break.
United’s exit from the Europe is further confirmation of the enormous task on hand this summer, with the only question mark left being what type of budget will be available, depending on their league finish. With or without Champions League qualification, United are still an easy sell to many players, though it would mean having to pay a premium in player wages to lure them to Old Trafford as a compromise.
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Leading candidates Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag should both be more attainable now that they have both exited the Champions League this month, though the manner of their defeats also reminded United that neither are not guarantors of success.
As United continue to monitor developments at Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel remains a person of interest to the club, but until there is clarity surrounding the long-term future of the London side, it seems unlikely that there will be any concrete developments regarding his position.
The German is contracted to Chelsea until 2024 and has already stated he will remain at the club until the end of the season, though it is unclear what will happen to the Stamford Bridge side when their special license to operate expires at the end of May.
Carlo Ancelotti is admired by club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, though there are obvious questions about whether or not he is really the man to disrupt Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s dominance in English football. Luis Enrique is perhaps the most desirable appointment given his proven track-record at an elite club in the modern era, but his availability of lui is compromised by his commitments di lui at the World Cup with Spain.
The harsh truth is there is no quick fix for United to turn their fortunes around immediately on their head. Whoever is appointed will need to be given time and power to implement all the changes they see fit, only then will they ever come close to returning to the top of English football.
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