Erik ten Hag was present for Manchester United’s last game of the previous season and those dismal 90 minutes was enough for him to realise the scope of the job he had inherited.
What followed was a summer of quality recruitment with the focus firmly on fixing a leaking defence and solidifying a weak midfield which lacked creativity.
A splurge of over £200 million was required as the Red Devils brought in as many as five permanent recruits and one loan signing to plug in the gaping holes in the squad.
However, due to years of ineffectual recruitment and short-termism, the Dutchman will require a few more windows at least to build a squad in his own image.
January was supposed to be a quiet one considering the summer outlay with a deputy right-back to provide competition for the ever-present Diogo Dalot the only possible business that would have been attended to.
But a major spanner was thrown in the works after last season’s top goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo‘s incendiary interview and subsequent acrimonious exit.
Now, the manager has himself publicly admitted that the team is short of firepower up front and has requested the club to try and recruit a striker of note.
🚨🇵🇹 Manchester United are set to make an enquiry about the availability of Benfica's Gonçalo Ramos, although Ten Hag has been told it is not certain a striker will arrive in January. [@RobDawsonESPN] #MUFC pic.twitter.com/WlWCcQm5YG
— United Update (@UnitedsUpdate) December 14, 2022
But as revealed by The Athletic earlier, The Glazers mismanagement has meant, “United spent £218m on transfers in the three months from July 1. That has left them with outstanding transfer instalments to other clubs of £306m.”
And that means heavy spending in the winter is out of the question. It would not have been too big of an issue but then the World Cup happened.
As reported by ESPN, “Benfica were considering bids of around €20 million before the start of the season” for Ramos. But post his hat trick for Portugal in their World Cup round-of-16 tie against Switzerland, that price has soared sensationally.
WC & financial situation could cost ETH
“Gakpo’s valuation has almost doubled after his impressive form in Qatar. United were quoted around €30m by PSV Eindhoven in the summer but after three goals for the Netherlands at the World Cup, it is now closer to €50m.”
Even for Depay, Barcelona expect financial gains if they are to sell their wantaway striker after being close to mutually agreeing a free exit back in the summer.
Club sources have already indicated that there is no guarantee of a striker being recruited in January. This despite the fact that United are currently the second-lowest scoring team in the top-half of the Premier League.
This could cost Ten Hag a chance at making the top-four and a shot at winning silverware, not what the manager had envisaged when taking over the reins at Old Trafford.