Manchester United are planning a lavish welcome for Erik ten Hag to commemorate the start of a new era, and Ralf Rangnick’s revelation regarding their transfer plans will be music to Erik ten Hag’s ears.
Ten Hag has verbally agreed to take over as Man United coach with a four-year deal as the Red Devils bring an end to their search for their new permanent leader, although the appointment is yet to be officially announced. There is hope that, under the 52-year-old, United can repeat what Liverpool and Manchester City have accomplished in their long-term plans.
But, in order to accomplish so, Ten Hag will need to be supported in every way. And, with the United roster in need of another major overhaul this summer, the club will have to be ready to start writing big checks.
The Dutchman is said to have insisted on having a voice in acquiring transfer targets ahead of his arrival, and he will be working with John Murtough, Darren Fletcher, and Rangnick to get them across the line. That would imply that he is aware that in the past, United have not always followed their manager’s instructions when it comes to signing players.
But this time is different. As Rangnick hinted at in his press conference on Tuesday, it will need one of the biggest summer spending sprees to address the squad’s shortcomings – and the club is willing to authorize it. When you look at the size of the team that needs to be rebuilt, it’s not enough to bring in three or four new players,” he told Sky Sports before Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing at Anfield.
“It will be more, given how many players will no longer be here once their contracts expire.” Aside from goalkeeping, I believe we must work to enhance the group in all areas. Bringing in players that can truly help the squad improve – once again, it’s all about the profile. What kind of players do we need to play whatever style of football we want?”
United can afford it, as evidenced by their £500 million investment under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without winning a single trophy. And, if they are serious about rebuilding under Ten Hag’s leadership, players must be signed with only his concept in mind.
It’s a calculated gamble justified by United’s recent dealings, in which players were signed based on their reputation rather than their suitability to the team’s approach. Last summer was intended to be the final jigsaw piece, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, and Jadon Sancho offering star quality in places that needed to be strengthened.
However, it is fair to say that none of them have blended in seamlessly. Ten Hag will prioritize defenders who can pass effectively, full-backs who can run endlessly up and down the flanks, and offensive players who exude flair and creativity. There aren’t many players who suit the profile in the current roster.
Ten Hag will have some targets in mind, but they will not all be high-profile additions. As the top two sides in England have demonstrated this season, simply upgrading the first team is insufficient to compete on all four fronts. United’s star players have all struggled this season, but their reluctance to rely on their backup options hasn’t helped ease the pressure.
Man City left Gabriel Jesus on the bench for the majority of the season and kept £40 million center-back Nathan Ake in reserve, whereas Liverpool constantly rested Roberto Firmino’s skills and did not suffer a drop in form. Why? Because both clubs have players ready to enter the team who can execute their job without fear of weakening the team. The second string, if anything, ought to be just as good and ready to step in as part of the natural rotation.
The ultimate goal is to construct an elite group, which has taken Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp five years. Ten Hag understands that he won’t have as much time to construct his dynasty at Old Trafford, and after Rangnick’s clarion appeal to start planning for a great summer transfer window, he must make sure he does it right.