The previous Dutch Man United manager, who inherited a depleted side, was aided by six acquisitions. Erik ten Hag requires at least that many.
Brighton Beach is a picturesque’staycation,’ and numerous Manchester United players appeared to be thinking about it at the Amex Stadium.
Some people left the stadium on their own, despite the fact that security personnel in the tunnel were solely discussing Cristiano Ronaldo’s escape strategy. Others have dressed like sunbathers in their deckchairs this season.
Staff at United who were on the field for the FA Youth Cup celebrations spoke about putting an end to the season despite only having one game left. Now that Erik ten Hag is speaking as United’s manager, fans must hope for a reply from the players.
Ralf Rangnick suggested open-heart surgery, but there had to be a heart. This bloated United team has plateaued, and player turnover must be substantial.
Ten Hag must provide clarity to some United players before they leave for the summer or report for international duty. Six contracts are set to be destroyed when they expire on June 30, but there is a long line of players who are unsure whether to contact estate agents.
Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, Andreas Pereira, Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford are among the players whose futures are unknown. If Ten Hag decides David de Gea has stagnated while other goalkeepers have grown, or if Ronaldo, who was spotted on the Mottram Hall golf course with a Real Madrid fan on Sunday, transfers clubs, United might start next season without one or both of their greatest players this season.
A 25-man senior squad (excluding the third-choice goalkeeper) is required for a season of European games on Thursday nights, including provisions for permanent breakouts from the youth. Louis van Gaal took over United with no European competition, and his squad photo had 27 players, although eight of them did not make double-digit starts or did not play at all.
Van Gaal, the first Dutch United manager to be revered at Ajax, was backed with six signings in his first summer. United require that amount – at the very least – if Ten Hag is to impose himself on the group and alleviate their identity crisis. United has always targeted three incomings.
If he is not promoted to No. 1 in goal, Henderson will seek a transfer. United value him at £40 million, but a loan is more likely in a summer market where long-term goalkeepers are in short supply. Newcastle is still interested and has a lot of money.
The De Gea-Henderson dynamic, which has been unhealthily sustained for two years due to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s indecisive management, must end, thus a backup goalkeeper might be among the new arrivals. Tom Heaton considers himself second-choice, although he is likely to play Lee Grant.
United are still interested in Pau Torres, while Ten Hag has all but supported a move for Ajax’s Jurrien Timber. United held exploratory talks with Antonio Rudiger’s representation, but they were only able to raise his pay offer from Real Madrid. It’s not the first time United has been used as a negotiating tool.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones have stated their intention to depart, and Axel Tuanzebe’s disastrous loan experiences with Aston Villa and Napoli may have left him with no route back.
United require an upgrade at full-back but have little negotiating power. They already have four senior full-backs, two of whom are on loan (Ethan Laird and Brandon Williams), as well as two teenage prospects signed from Real Madrid and Barcelona (Alvaro Fernandez and Marc Jurado). Realistically, United must sell in order to purchase.
The focus is defensive midfield, and United would prefer to add another midfielder to compensate for the impending losses of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. Donny van de Beek and James Garner are set to return from loan spells, and if Nottingham Forest end their 23-year absence from the Premier League, a discussion over whether Garner will stay for a season of regular Premier League play is likely.
Four of the six out-of-contract players are attack-minded, Mason Greenwood is indefinitely unavailable, and Martial is a non-factor. Rashford has played poorly this season, scoring only one goal as a starter and putting doubt on his future with the wounds from the Manchester derby humiliation still fresh.
Selling both is unlikely. Martial is the more complete player, but he is two years older, his form has deteriorated with time, and he has one foot out the door. Four years after siding with Martial against Jose Mourinho and undermining the United manager’s authority, it’s time to re-empower him.
United would be unwise to settle for just one attacking signing when Rangnick has recommended two-fluid forwards with similar profiles to Erling Haaland. United requires long-term goal scorers to relieve the load on Ronaldo and the overworked Anthony Elanga. Jadon Sancho had a disappointing first season but should improve with greater coaching.
United’s core squad in 2022-23
Tom Heaton, the new backup goalkeeper to David De Gea
Diogo Dalot, Aaron Wan-Bissaka/new full-back, new central defender Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Teden Mengi, Alex Telles, and Luke Shaw are all on the team.
The new defensive midfielder, new midfielder, new midfielder, new midfielder, new midfielder, new mid-Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay, Fred, James Garner
A new beginning, a new beginning, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga, Bruno Fernandes, and Hannibal Member
Ethan Laird, Alvaro Fernandez, and Alejandro Garnacho are among the promising young players.