For most Manchester United fans, last season was the worst campaign of their lives. Not only did the team concede 56 goals, the highest in the club’s history domestically, but also finished 6th, with a pathetic 58 points, just enough for a Europa League spot.
So disastrous was the season that the team finished with a goal difference of zero, in what many described as a nightmare campaign that saw former manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer shown the door after a string of poor results. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick’s arrival failed to solve the sinking boat as standards fell further.
The German manager failed to inspire an unmotivated dressing room, who were clearly not playing for him and were not keen on his tactical instructions. The current Austria national team manager’s brief era at the club was marked by media leaks from sections of the club, distrust and acrimony throughout the institution and combative press conferences in which the team’s dirty laundry was aired out for the world to see.
From the outset, it was clear that the club hierarchy and the Glazer family, in particular, needed to have a near-perfect summer transfer window to make up for the disappointments of last season. After last season’s calamitous displays that saw the Red Devils miss out on the top four and at one point on the brink of the Conference League football, as is so often with the Glazer family when the club is in crisis, many expected United to go on a spending spree unrivalled by other clubs in Europe.
The expected exits of several of United’s stars as free agents at the end of the season, some of whom were undoubtedly complicit in the team’s downfall last season, coupled with the departure of Ed Woodward, who has never been popular within the fanbase, only served to further stir supporters’ expectations of a mega transfer window.
The mass exodus of first-team players from Old Trafford rendered the squad extremely thin, seemingly leaving new boss Erik ten Hag with crumbs to work with in his maiden season in England. The restructuring at the top, that elevated Football Director John Murtough to a more prominent position also pointed to a new dawn in which football matters would take centre stage at the Theatre of Dreams in place of commercial interests.
The general feeling amongst the United faithful was that the men at the top would look to soft launch their rule at the club with an impeccable transfer window, that would leave tongues wagging.
However, the opposite has been the case, with what at the moment feels like an underwhelming window, to say the least. There is little to distinguish the current regime from the Woodward era. If anyone were to tell you when the window started that United would have only signed Lisandro Martinez, a young and relatively unknown Tyrell Malacia and 30-year-old free agent Christian Eriksen with five weeks of the window remaining, how would you react?
Just three confirmed signings with the season starting in just over a week should set alarm bells ringing across the fanbase. There are still many positions and areas to address in the limited time remaining. What should worry United fans, even more, is that other deals appear to have stalled, with some looking dead in the water already.
Frenkie de Jong, the manager’s primary target, still looks to be far off, although to be fair, some factors hindering the deal could be well beyond the club’s sphere of influence. An argument can however be made that with the vital nature of this current window, the club should have already moved on to alternative targets. The Antony deal is also reportedly off, with Ajax’s valuation deemed unreasonable and far too high for United bosses to meet.
United are still yet to sign a striker, a situation that has been made more dire by the uncertainty surrounding the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is hell-bent on engineering a move away from Manchester, with his heart set on Spain with Atletico Madrid. A right-back and a specialist defensive midfielder are other priority positions that need urgent reinforcements. A goalkeeper should also be added to the ranks to make up for Dean Henderson and Lee Grant who have left the club.
The majority of supporters would have also liked to see more outgoings, with players like Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams and Phil Jones rendered surplus to requirements and not part of the new manager’s plans. The three did not play any part in the team’s pre-season tour.
The combination of all these factors certainly makes for an underwhelming window so far. Trust between the team and the fans is at an all-time low, with confidence on the floor ahead of the upcoming campaign. Rival clubs also seem to be strengthening and will only become more formidable next season. Where does this leave England’s biggest club in the pecking order?
All hope is not lost nevertheless. There is still time for the club to accelerate plans and back the manager to a greater degree. It is imperative that decision-makers at the top do not repeat mistakes of the past and further erode what is already a desperate situation at best between themselves and supporters. A new manager presents an opportunity for a cultural reset. United must not let this chance waste away as they did with past managers.
United Matchday Magazine – The Online Football Programme
Simeone and Atletico. It’s personal. Everyone’s buzzing. Get ready for the game with the United Matchday Mag.
- Online football content like you’ve never seen before
- Part programme, part fanzine, the mag gives you all the news, facts and features you NEED before every game
- Instantly delivered to your device with easy and secure online ordering
- Click Preview to see more or buy now for just £1.25/$1.50
- SAVE 40% on a season pass: use discount code TENHAG40TREAT at checkout