What positions are Manchester United aiming for in the summer transfer window? What did Erik Ten Hag say? And what do the statistics say?
What positions does Manchester United aim for?
Melissa Reddy, Sky Sports News senior reporter:
Erik ten Hag’s determination to skip a furlough and step straight in as Manchester United manager tells the story of the scale of work he must endure.
The 52-year-old inherits a squad that is in need of a thorough overhaul after the worst Premier League season in its history.
That almighty task needs to be done behind the scenes amid a restructuring of organizational structure – including recruitment – as United seek a “underperformance detox”.
As a result, it’s a much slimmer list to judge what the club doesn’t need this summer.
Let’s take a look at the roster itself, which features 21 players signed by five different managers with no underlying style or age profile.
Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Lee Grant are leaving on a free transfer.
Dean Henderson, Anthony Martial, Eric Bailly and Brandon Williams are all expected to leave elsewhere for more minutes. Phil Jones and Diogo Dalot could also go.
The club are open to offers for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, who retains his place in the starting XI – let alone the captain’s armband – is in jeopardy. Marcus Rashford was terribly out of shape and Bruno Fernandes went from a transformative figure to a largely frustrating figure.
United’s attack cannot be supported by Cristiano Ronaldo alone while the midfield lacked offensive protection and progression. There is no position that does not need strengthening.
United need an elite anchor, a dynamic central midfielder, a top-class striker, a confident centre-back who is strong in the air and capable of defending large areas with ease, new full-backs and another attacker to counter Jadon Sancho.
Ten Hag has a clear football ideology, which helps in building a recruitment profile. Sky sports news was told he wanted “more technical, aggressive, quick-thinking players” who had a “deep responsibility, off the ball and working for each other”.
With significant changes to scouting operations and a lack of football negotiations, it will be interesting to see how United handle extensive spending and earnings.
A lack of Champions League participation also puts the club at a disadvantage, but United believe Ten Hag’s continental exploits with Ajax and his ability to improve players will prove attractive enough for their goals.
Another element sold to potential recruits is the opportunity to “write a new history of Manchester United”. Ten Hag will oversee a very different squad and is expected to introduce a culture shift and more discipline in a toxic, divided environment.
What do the stats say about Manchester United?
United are crying out for a player who can combine defense with attack, having appeared ready to sign such a player before buying Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.
Last season the club ranked 12th for possession in the middle period and 10th for passes in the final period. The fact that Paul Pogba recorded nine assists in La Liga this season in just 16 games underscores the problems in this area.
What did manager Erik Ten Hag say?
Speak with MUTV, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said in May: “Obviously the current situation is not that good. It’s a big challenge.
“I want to build and construct a team that fights for each other, that is united and gets results. We also play in the theater of dreams.
“There are certain positions we want to refresh the squad but a year ago this squad was second in the league so there is potential and I’m really looking forward to working with the squad.”
When asked if Ronaldo would fit into his project, Ten Hag added: “Of course.”
What should Manchester United do this summer?
Jack Wilkinson from Sky Sports:
where do you start
Restoring Manchester United to the lofty heights of yesteryear is too big a task to complete in a single season, but the fanbase has every right to demand progress towards that ultimate goal.
There are many opportunities for newly appointed manager Erik ten Hag and CEO Richard Arnold to achieve just that.
United can hardly be blamed for not investing on the pitch, having weighed in at more than £1bn in transfers over the past decade, but United are among the worst in Europe in terms of value for every pound spent.
In their first season together, Ten Hag and Arnold must seize the opportunity to devise a new transfer strategy, execute it successfully and take the first steps towards restoring the famous partnership that underpinned Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill’s shared magic.
On the pitch, the fanbase craves a group of players they can relate to, a group of players they can emotionally invest in, regardless of the results.
Players brought into the club must understand the privilege of donning a Manchester United shirt and most importantly have the ability to translate that into performances on the pitch, while those already at the club must be given an ultimatum to demonstrate their understanding.
If they achieve that, United should be able to prevent the crippling sense of apathy from further engulfing Old Trafford and the club will have taken their first step back towards the top flight of English and European football.