Signing raw talent over ego for the long-term is the way to rebuild a club like Manchester United


Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seemingly targeted younger players with raw talent ahead of the summer transfer window in which he will be tasked with rebuilding the club in a bid to bring back the glory days. Whilst some supporters mock the system the Norwegian has started to adopt, there is some great sense in what he is doing.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, in which United last won the Premier League title, there has been little success. David Moyes won the FA Community Shield. Louis van Gaal won the Emirates FA Cup – the first major honour post-Ferguson and Jose Mourinho won the Community Shield, EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League.

During the last six years, United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward targeted ready-made players; many of whom not actually working out at the club. The likes of Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez just has not worked the way we all wanted it to. The squad has massively underachieved on the pitch which led to criticism of many high-profile players.

Solskjaer is motivated by success. Twenty years after helping United achieve the treble, he now finds himself in the manager’s hot seat having the opportunity to guide the club to success once again, if the right signings are made and that he is actually backed by the hierarchy of the club – which cannot be said for the likes of Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho.

In the past few weeks, along with the regular clickbait transfer links, United has been credited with a strong interest in Swansea City winger Daniel James, Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff and Stoke City defender Nathan Collins. This is a refreshing approach but many supporters, who have imagined United as a club that signs galactico players, after Woodward specifically targeted these, do not seem to be happy with the lack of big-name signings. If anything, it is something that has not worked so why would it now?

Manchester United is a club that has always looked towards youth to build teams. It may be an era that is long gone but the Class of 1992 coming through the ranks in the mid-1990s is one of the best periods of the modern football era and Solskjaer would like to recreate that. It was a period where United contributed at least five or six players to the England squad, also having players in the Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland squads.

It may be a gamble but surely, as focusing on big-name signings has dramatically failed in the past six years, Solskjaer’s approach should be celebrated. Just because a young player currently plays for Swansea, Newcastle or Stoke does not mean they are not good enough for a career at a big club. United has a massive scouting network but over the last six years, that has seemingly failed to spot the likes of Dele Alli, Andrew Robertson, James Maddison to name a few.

These three players added to the many more who have made themselves known in the Premier League and beyond should really have been spotted by United’s scouting network. Instead, they seem to be watching nearly every match in Portugal looking at a player who will cost £105 million minimum to activate his release clause (Joao Felix) who at 19, has yet to achieve anything big in the game. Some supporters would rather that gamble, seeing the club spend big bucks with a massive chance of failure rather than success.

Obviously, United will need balance in the transfer market. I am not saying they should buy unproven potential. They need experience in the ranks also. During the past season, United leaked 54 goals in the Premier League, their worst number of goals conceded since the 1978/79 season. The defence has no leader. David De Gea has been off the boil and United just endured a poor period of football after Solskjaer raised the bar initially, driving United towards a challenge for at least the top four in the league.

It is suggested by Andy Mitten that United are seeking a central defender, a right-back, a central midfielder, and a right-winger this summer. If Romelu Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez end up leaving the club, a forward is also expected. That may not be seen as enough by many but as long as the central defender has leadership ability and the right-back is not Ashley Young, it will be a bonus. Also, having a right-sided winger in the team would be great. Did you see the impact of David Beckham in the Treble Reunion on Sunday? How good was it to see a marauding winger putting in near-perfect crosses?

It is expected that Daniel James will become United’s first transfer under Solskjaer with Swansea suggesting it was a case of ‘when not if’ the move materialised but after the sudden death of his father, you can understand him taking time out with his family. Sean Longstaff has been advised to reject United with Kevin Kilbane suggesting the move would be a mistake. Also, despite Darren Fletcher recommending Nathan Collins to United, Stoke City legend Liam Lawrence has warned the player about a prospective move, stating that he will play more in the Championship than at United.

Obviously, there is a long way to go in the transfer window yet. Only domestic transfers can go through right now with international transfers able to be ratified from the 11 June. Solskjaer will be eager to get things sorted though. Perhaps those who are worried about the level of players United have been linked with should have some faith in Solskjaer, like they did with Van Gaal and Mourinho and sit back and relax. After all, what is a moan on social media going to do anyway? Will it change the transfer dealings at United?

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