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Could this summer be a turning point for Manchester United?

Manchester United have been rumoured to be implementing a Football Director and a Technical Director for a matter of years with suggestions of the club interest being released into the media after Jose Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 but it took the best part of three years to actually implement. On Wednesday 10 March 2021, United made the announcement that John Murtough, who was already employed by the club, is now the Football Director and Darren Fletcher, who had joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching team recently, announced as the Technical Director.

This should be seen as a step forward in the development of the club as previously Ed Woodward, the clubs executive vice-chairman, was in charge of the footballing decisions and there have been many mistakes made by the guy in the years following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill, Woodward’s predecessor, stepping down. United seem to have moved forwards finally investing in Solskjaer’s plans for the club which will leave United in a better position that it had under the management of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Mourinho, which is a positive in itself, despite social media supporters maintaining their agendas.

The stability that these appointments could garner should be positive for United in that Solskjaer will have a direct relationship up the line to suggest what he wants this summer, telling Fletcher, who was a teammate of Solskjaer at the club, which in turn will find its way onto Murtough’s desk. United need to now start backing the manager, now assuming that with a lack of funding he can continue to get the best out of the team. If United get the players that he wants, it will set United up to continue the rebuild and follow Solskjaer’s plan, which has created some good spells for United since he arrived at the club. There is a lot of positivity at the club now.

Many supporters might be quick to suggest Murtough will do what Woodward tells him or even talk about the mistake that was made when United could have signed Erling Haaland in January 2019 if it was not for a mix up in the time the call was meant to be made with 9am suggested but meaning local time in Norway, not 9am in Manchester which is in a different timezone, which was recently reported by Football Insider. Murtough will take on all ‘leadership and responsibility for operations and strategy across all football functions’ which was stated on the official Manchester United website at the time of his appointment.

Fletcher, an academy graduate of the club, know what it takes to succeed and make it to the first team, will work closely with Murtough and will ‘add technical input and direction into all football and performance areas’, as stated at his appointment. There are positives to be seen here if you forget about the past. We should give them both a chance to see what they have to give to the club. United have a direction to travel in and that must continue to happen. Solskjaer will need to be backed to give what he can for the club which is to return United to the pinnacle of world football, which is something that he helped to do as a player.

This summer, United will have many targets. It is suggested that the club will seek a new central defender to partner Harry Maguire with many players already linked to the club. I wrote about nine players recently, which gives insight into the direction in terms of that position. It is also suggested that a right-back may need to be signed to give competition to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, which is something I will be writing about in the next week. A defensive midfielder is another area as right now only Nemanja Matic is available in that position, which is not the greatest option for the club. A right-winger is required, despite Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo arriving.

One of the areas that requires some immediate improvement is the striker. Anthony Martial’s form has been a major question mark hanging over the squad this season and Edinson Cavani’s fitness record is another. United have been finding goal from elsewhere, with Bruno Fernandes (23) and Marcus Rashford (18) scoring the majority of the goals this season. That does need to change though as with a striker that can hit a barn door in the squad, United will start to achieve things. Erling Haaland will be hotly linked to United, however, inn my opinion, with Mino Raiola as his agent, United should admit defeat and look elsewhere.

I will be writing about the right-back, defensive midfielder, right-wing and striker options as the weeks progress so they will all be something to look out for. Looking at the strikers that have been linked to the club already, Patson Daka seems to be a good option, but so does Andre Silva who plays for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, who so far this season has scored 22 goals in the league, also assisting five times. There will be business to be done by the club this summer and it should be a positive one, addressing some of the problem areas in the squad so that can be rectified.

Of course, United have many players that could leave the club with Lee Grant and Sergio Romero’s contracts both ending, Juan Mata’s contract coming to an end, although there are reports that his extra year could be activated. United also have players that are not really part of the forward plan, including Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and Tahith Chong that could contribute towards the budget to bring in the players that Solskjaer wants to continue his rebuild. We all expect good things every summer and never end up getting them but this summer should be different, even with the coronavirus pandemic damaging the financial market.

Written by Dave Preston

copyright: JW