The 2021-22 season started with high hopes at Old Trafford. Manchester United had managed to strengthen the squad with the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, and Jadon Sancho, and a dominant home win against Leeds United on opening day ensured that fans believed that the good times could be returning to the Theatre of Dreams.
However, over the past couple of weeks, there have been clear reservations from expert picks surrounding whether the club will get the wins required to finish in a Champions League place. Failure to finish in the top four this term will set United back in their mission to get back to winning Premier League titles, but why is this summer likely to be one of the biggest in United’s recent history?
Decision On Next Manager
It is said every summer that the upcoming one is the biggest for United in generations, but that is especially the case this year. United are back at the crossroads that they found themselves before appointing David Moyes following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, and a decision on the next manager to replace interim boss Ralf Rangnick is likely to impact the path that the club takes over the coming years.
There are two clear front-runners for the vacancy and both bring something completely different. Mauricio Pochettino has had admirers in the United hierarchy since his Tottenham Hotspur days, and his Premier League experience, coupled with the ability to handle a squad of big egos may be a decisive factor. However, Erik ten Hag has become the popular choice among United fans, as the Ajax boss offers a completely different route, with one eye firmly fixed on the future.
During his time in the Netherlands, he has been a serial winner and has helped develop some of the brightest talents in the world. Getting the best out of the players at his disposal has been integral to that success, and it could be argued that players such as Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt have both struggled to reach the same heights since leaving the ten Hag set-up.
Boardroom Needs Fixing
Gary Neville has spoken passionately about the United set-up for months now, and his views are shared by the majority of Red Devils fans. United is rotten from top to bottom at present, and is falling well behind the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool when it comes to the boardroom as well as on the pitch. The root of the issues remains with the Glazers, who are failing repeatedly to live up to promises made to the fans.
The money that the Americans have taken out of the club has been well-documented, while plans to re-develop Old Trafford have been announced, but many fans don’t believe that the owners will follow through on those either. There is confusion as to what roles people have, with that being echoed by interim boss Rangnick who has been left bewildered by what Darren Fletcher is currently doing.
The German is expected to take up a consultancy position at the end of the season, as he has been tasked with an audit of the current players throughout the season. However, it remains to be seen what his future role will be, whether he will have a say in transfers, and where he will fit in between John Murtough and Fletcher.
What Players Will Be At The Club?
When the summer transfer window opens, the first order of business for United will be clearing out the squad and bringing in players that are willing to fight for the shirt. Players such as Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, and Jesse Lingard are expected to leave when their contracts expire, while question marks remain over whether Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial.
United have potentially five players that the club can build around for the new season, with Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, and Raphael Varane likely to keep their spots in the new-look team. Meanwhile, Anthony Elanga has already shown this season that he is a star for the here and now.
There is talent in the academy that is ready-made for the first team for next season, with James Garner, Charlie McNeil, and Hannibal Majbri among those that look set to play an increased role. However, a midfielder will be high on the list of signings that must be made, but moves for Declan Rice and Wilfred Ndidi may be unlikely.
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