It doesn’t take a genius to know what Manchester United needs to change by reading between the lines of Ralf Rangnick’s recent comments.
Perhaps the German privately wishes he’d been granted cash to begin the process of upgrading the United squad in January; in any case, he’s pragmatic enough to understand that the club wants a new long-term manager and that his own position will be solely advising. As a result of his role as interim manager, he has already begun to do so.
Rangnick is correct in mentioning the transfer window and the necessity to “improve” the squad in his post-Man City comments. It informs the club’s hierarchy to the deep-rooted flaws that are ailing the club and leaving a massive gap between United and the teams they aim to catch one day, such as City and Liverpool.
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It can’t be done with the team as it is right now. Rangnick is aware of this and appears to believe that a top-four finish is out of reach for this disjointed team.
Too many players (Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and Edinson Cavani, for example) are already looking ahead to the summer, knowing they will be departing. Others (Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, and Harry Maguire) have been far from their best this season and appear distracted. That’s before you include loaned-out duo Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek, whose futures are unknown, or the unfavorable trio of Dean Henderson, Nemanja Matic, and Eric Bailly. Then there’s the case of Cristiano Ronaldo (more on that later).
Chris Sutton isn’t normally a pundit whose opinion matters much to Manchester United supporters — and he shouldn’t be — but his prediction that United should sell 10 players this summer wasn’t far off. When you consider Pogba, Lingard, Cavani, and Juan Mata going when their contracts expire, as well as the fact that Martial and Van de Beek will leave, that’s six players who will need to be replaced. Each summer, United normally signs three or four players at the most.
Perhaps Martial will return if his loan stay at Sevilla is successful and if Ronaldo decides to leave after a single year in Manchester, which is becoming more likely by the week. In any case, with Cavani departing, not to mention the Mason Greenwood scenario, United will want a fresh young striker, as Rangnick has emphasized. No. 9 Martial cannot be the first choice.
Signing three midfielders, a backup goalkeeper to replace Henderson, and that striker should only be the beginning. Then there are the defensive difficulties that may drive United to look for new additions at center-back and right-back.
The club may have to cut its losses and move away from high-priced targets like Declan Rice and Erling Haaland. But this is when Rangnick’s knowledge comes in handy.
United now has the appropriate individual to assist them in the transfer market. It has now been revealed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s “culture reboot” was constructed on sand, and it is Rangnick’s responsibility to oversee a comprehensive rebuild.
Sometimes ripping it up and starting over is the best option. Ralf, you’re a jerk.
United’s possible 25-man roster for next season:
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Heaton, and a new goalkeeper.
Dalot/Wan-Bissaka, new right-back, Varane, Lindelof, Maguire, new center-back, Shaw, Telles
Midfield: Fred, McTominay, Fernandes, Garner, and Hannibal are the three new midfielders.
Forwards: Sancho, Ronaldo/Martial, Elanga, Rashford, and Amad, the new striker.