Manchester United face a busy summer to turn their squad of players into a team willing and capable to challenge the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal for trophies during the 2022/23 season.
It is expected that new manager Erik ten Hag will be bringing some new faces to the Old Trafford club with the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Antony, amongst others, linked to the Theatre of Dreams this summer. However, reports in The Mirror suggest something different could be happening.
It is alleged that Ten Hag has been told that he will need to get the best out of the players currently at United, which seems obvious as no manager in world football will be able to clear out an entire squad, signing a completely new squad in one summer transfer window.
That said, it will not be something that will be accepted as it will be attributed to the Glazer’s frugal ways to continue taking money away from the Old Trafford club. In 17 years of ownership, the debt enforced on the club by the family has risen and will continue to do so under their rule.
Granted, since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, the Glazers have spent more than £1 billion of the clubs money on new players – the majority of these not working out – some still not working out at the club despite some being around for three different managers.
It is obvious to some that the players have been the problem from the ill-fated David Moyes era, into the Louis van Gaal era which produced at Emirates FA Cup trophy. Then into Jose Mourinho’s era which brought an EFL Cup and a UEFA Europa League title – the most success post-Ferguson.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign was expected to heed more success, but almost three years into it, the wheels fell off and he was too removed from responsibility leading to Ralf Rangnick taking the reigns on an interim basis, which resulted in United’s worst ever Premier League season.
Erik ten Hag’s reign was never going to be easy but there has been significant changes at the club, which may suggest things have changed. However, with this report, many will find the sour taste it will bring and speculate that nothing has changed and the Glazer’s will want to profit, again.
If you think about it, Ten Hag will need to get the majority of the players putting in more effort than they had, as for him, if the players start the new season like the last one ended, it will look bad on them more than him. The Dutchman is a ruthless manager, which is what is needed.
With the departures of Lee Grant, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matić, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani, new additions will be required, especially in the midfield – specifically a defensive midfielder which United have lacked for an eternity.
Players like Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, Raphaël Varane, Bruno Fernandes and even Jadon Sancho will need to raise their game significantly. It is expected that Martial could be sold this summer, but the problem is the interest in him and the costs applied to signing him.
United always make it hard to sell a player, hence why so many players have been allowed to continue underperforming for United over the past decade. It seems to be cheaper for the Glazers to keep failure rather than replacing it, as it will end up costing more money.
This summer, United will need to reinforce the fullback positions, the central defence, the midfield and the attacking positions. Granted, there are players in the squad that could do that but in terms of experience of players who would give their all to wear United’s shirt – I am not so sure.
Ten Hag will be calling some players back for preseason training from the end of June, with those still playing international football having a break until July before the preseason tour of Thailand, Australia and Norway starts.
United will be facing Liverpool (Thailand), Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa (Australia) and Atlético Madrid (Norway) between the 15 and 30 July 2022. The Premier League season starts on the 6/7 August because of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this winter.
It may well be that United play a midweek fixture at Old Trafford ahead of the season starting, but nothing has been suggested at this point. Ten Hag and United’s squad will have a busy summer, especially when it comes to training, which is something that has been questionable recently.
Written by John Walker