Manchester United’s negotiation with Barcelona over the transfer of Frankie de Jong is a very strange one as Man U don’t want to pay his valuation, Barcelona doesn’t want to sell him and Frankie de Jong doesn’t want to join Man U.
Judging from past transfer windows, Man U will probably wait several weeks before admitting defeat and walking away.
The several-year-long pursuit of Jason Sancho comes to mind, as does their decade long interest in Seamus Coleman when they were in dire need of a right back (surprise they still do), Manchester United tend to completely waste crucial time in the transfer window, while their league rivals address all their problems and begin the new season fully prepared.
It’s looking like more of the same from Manchester United this year, who just can’t seem to face reality and admit they have problems. So, despite being a Chelsea fan myself, seeing Manchester United fall so far from where they should be is no longer funny so I thought I’d help and spell out their problems for them.
The Problem With Manchester United
Where do I begin? You can blame the managers for not accomplishing what they’ve obviously been brought in for, which for Manchester United is to win trophies, but ultimately it’s the players who are on that pitch and who have to take responsibility at the end of the day.
While I don’t think Ole was up to the task, certainly not if you want to compare him to the likes of Pep, Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, he got Man U to second in his last full season at Man U, with the same amount of losses as Man City, and lost in the finals of the Europa League, on penalty shoot-outs which is a very luck-based way to decide a game, so I don’t think all the blame can be put on him.
And obviously, they have had many great managers like Mourinho, Moyes, and Van Gaal, who have all been unable to restore Man U to their previous heights, so the managers obviously not the problem. It’s the team.
People can point the finger at Ronaldo and Varane who were brought in to fix the team at the start of last season, but 2 big signings, in a team where most of the starting 11 aren’t good enough, won’t fix the problem. Look at Man U’s squad-depth right now. Their team is shockingly bad.
This is a simple answer, but it’s clear that many areas of the team need to be fixed so an in-depth review of each position is necessary to determine who is good enough for a team like Man U, who should be finishing first or second each year, and who is good enough for a team who finishes in sixth.
I’m sure they compile daily reports on all of their players but they are clearly blind to some uncomfortable truths so I’ll discuss them clearly here.
Davide de Gea is a quality goalkeeper, there is no doubt about it. He’s not just premier league winner quality (proven as he’s won one before), he’d do a job for Real Madrid or anyone vying for the champions league trophy too. No question, keep him at all costs.
Manchester United have just got rid of Dean Henderson, who for a 2nd choice is quality. Obviously, they’ve loaned him out with a buy clause of 20 million which is good money for a player from their academy but now they’re looking at Bachmann from Watford who wasn’t even good enough for Watford last season so it’s a backwards step. Manchester United don’t want to pay a large fee so this transfer is not confirmed but a goalkeeper of his level isn’t good enough for back up at Manchester United. Not to say he’s not a good goalkeeper, just it’s a backwards step from Dean Henderson. However, if they start de Gea every game, they will be fine.
One of their priorities has to be a starting CB alongside Varane. Varane is without a doubt their best defender, World Cup winner, Champions League winner, and La Liga winner, and still got years in him. They need to partner him up with another quality defender for him to form a formidable partnership.
I can’t help but compare the centre-backs to Man U’s previous CB pairings of Ferdinand and Vidic. 2 great CBs who had slightly different attributes but one thing they did share was they were both fearless. Varane can’t do it all and needs another great CB next to him if you’re going to stick with a four at the back formation.
Maguire and Lindelof, for different reasons, are not these defenders. I think Lindelof has all the attributes to make a great defender, and I would put him as Varane’s successor or replacement if he’s injured, but Lindelof hasn’t experienced the winning feeling like Varane has. I think he has shown promising signs so if he adds that winning mentality to his game and he’ll be great.
Maguire on the other hand is full of mistakes, hasn’t had any real experience winning things and it’s time for Man U to cut their losses. Whenever he played last season I would see a new clip of a mistake he made and he’s just not good enough. What’s strange is apparently Man U rejected Maguire being included as a part of the deal for Frankie de Jong as they want to keep him which is ridiculous. Maguire out.
Man Utd needs another starting CB who is as good as Varane, someone who is a winner who I can perhaps liken to Vidic or Rio. My recommendations are Skriniar, Koulibaly, Marquinhos and Kimpembe. I don’t want a young CB who can grow into a great CB. I want someone with experience, at their peak, who can play at the top level for another 4 or 5 years.
All these players are winners as in they’ve all won trophies and won most of their games and would drastically improve the Man U defence. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of these, and so pay whatever it takes for whoever is willing to join them, but I would take Skriniar as his contract is expiring next year so could potentially be bought for cheaper than his value but it would still have to be a lot as other teams will also be in for him so they should try and get this deal done as soon as possible. And he gives me Vidic vibes. So Skriniar in.
I would have Skriniar and Varane as starting CBs, Lindelof as sub for Varane and you do need at least one other sub CB. Eric Bailly is very good quality and they have him for 2 more years so I would just keep him til then and hope he accepts his role as sub CB or maybe tries to break into the first team by being better than the starting CBs, either way, its a win win and good depth for Man U. Other CBs could be from their academy such as Tuanzebe. Lisandro Martinez from Ajax is being talked about but I don’t see the point in spending 40 mil on a defender to not be a starter.
This is going to be controversial, but I’m starting Wan-Bissaka. I think comparisons to Reece James and Trent are fair but taken out of context as he plays a slightly different role. He can defend which a team like this needs as they often struggle for clean sheets, plus while Man Utd have seemingly unlimited money, they can’t just pay £50 million or more for each position in one season so I think for this season he can do a job. Especially since I’m selling Maguire, this defence should be a bit calmer and hopefully, Skriniar can take a bit of pressure off their right back and let him contribute to attacks a bit more.
Sub Right Back
As sub RB I’d sell Dalot when possible as I don’t think he has much ability. May sound strange as I’m keeping Wan-Bissaka but at least Wan-Bissaka can defend. They do need a sub RB so he could stay but if an offer came in for him I’d take it, then try to find someone with experience who’s on a free because that would be great business which Man U haven’t done for a long time, and is perhaps why they are in the position they are in.
Sidibe from Monaco is available as is Vrsaljko from Atletico Madrid who is both very experienced, I remember being very impressed by Sidibe in particular when he moved to Everton on loan. Him in for free and Dalot out from around £20 million would be very good business in my opinion. Don’t need Timber this year.
Simple. Start Luke Shaw and keep him happy so he renews his contract which expires in 2023. We all remember how good he was in the build up to the Euros, and the Euros itself. He gave the whole country the belief that we were going to win our first major trophy since 1966. Absolute quality, keep him happy.
Sub Left Back
Alex Telles sub. Also quality, can whip in a good corner, already a proven winner from his time at Porto. Don’t need to change anything.
I’ve heard very good things about Alvaro Fernandez. Loan him out to a premier league side and next year maybe he could replace Telles or Shaw. Probably time to sell Brandon Williams, could get a good £5 – £10 million which is decent in this current climate.
Alongside a starting CB and RW, this has to be a priority. Fred and McTominay are not Premier League-winning midfielders. I think they need to buy 2 new defensive midfielders. Matic has gone to Roma where I think he will do very well but he obviously has slowing down towards the end of his Man U career, but in terms of someone to go straight into the team, Declan Rice is a no-brainer.
His quality is clear for all to see, he can defend and ping a pass forward. I think he’s Man U quality, as in Man U-of-old quality, comparable to Michael Carrick but more of a baller. Break the bank and get him in before someone else does. Start Rice, I’d keep Fred as back up because he does have a bit of quality, just not enough for a starting position in a premier league winning team, and I’d sell McTominay as he just does not have the right attributes.
As a Scotland fan, I did not see any signs of leadership from him against Ukraine which as a Manchester United player, he should bring. He’s the only one with the training and development that Man U provides and really he should be showing that on a pitch but he doesn’t because he’s not a great player.
Similar to Maguire, I think he just isn’t good enough for a place in a top team in the premier league, but he’s still young and could probably raise £30 – £40 million, much more than Fred would raise and so again would be good business.
I think the other defensive midfielder needs to be able to defend and attack too. I’ve got my Roy Keane or Michael Carrick in Rice, now I want my Paul Scholes. This is a tough one as a player who can do it all is going to charge a huge fee but Manchester United have the assets and just the lure of Manchester United should be enough.
However, it isn’t. Players would rather go to Tottenham or Arsenal or other small clubs because they see a long-term plan. My plan I am outlining is a clear vision that any player will recognise and want to join in on. The de Jong saga should be simple. However, I wouldn’t go for de Jong. I think a CM who can shoot and defend is critical here which I don’t think is de Jong’s strengths.
It is tempting to put a CM who can dribble and attack next to a DM who does the more defensive chores, Santi Cazorla at Arsenal or Moussa Dembele at Tottenham come to mind, but Rice clearly likes another solid defensive midfielder next to him and it works for West Ham. Plus it allows the midfielder with the most quality, the attacking midfielder, to stay further up the pitch, which is very useful. In my opinion, Ruben Neves is the best option for Man Utd.
Rocket of a shot, tough player, definite Scholes vibes. Rice and Neves are proven premier league talents, and it’s really up to Man U whether they want to raid the teams lower down the league who all have a price even for their best players. They could and should act like the Bayern Munich of the league and buy the best players of the other teams as it’s a model that works. I think Soucek would be another good shout, already works well with Rice and would be an incredible bit of activity in the transfer window, to buy another team two starting midfielders. Tielemans is also an option but I prefer Neves for the Man U project. So I would have Rice and Neves starting, Fred and Donny sub and any other academy midfielder as reserve.
I still believe Fernandes deserves to start every game for Man U. Ridiculously good on the ball, at shooting, finding players, it’s a no brainer. However he needs a sub as Lingard is probably going to West Ham on a free, Mata is gone and Pereira is on the move to Fulham for £10 million according to recent reports. So I think Man U need a sub but someone who can be slightly different, where he can play central midfield as well as attacking mid in case Man U want to play with two strikers, an attacking mid and three central midfielders, so really someone who is technically gifted and doesn’t mind a tussle.
Hannibal Mejbri looks up for it, showing his teammates what a midfielder is meant to bring to the party but I haven’t seen much of his technical ability and Man U need someone more proven and perhaps more mature, but for the record I am all for Mejbri doing what he is currently doing. Eriksen is clearly a great option, if he’s willing to join them. Again, if they can show him there’s a plan in place and things are changing at Man U, he might get on board but that means a commitment to my whole plan and not just buy one or two players. That is what new players want to see, lots of new players, and the deadwood out.
So with Erikson, he joined Brentford last year so he’s obviously okay with doing the defensive side of things, I think he’ll be a bit of a different option to Fernandes and will bring much-needed genuine talent to the squad depth. If he just flat out refuses to join then Nkunku is very good as well but this will be extremely costly and could result in another Paul Pogba. They could try and poach proven premier league talent like Maddison, but overall this will be a very tricky position to try and cover as a quality attacking midfielder won’t want to be back up to Fernandes, so I think go all out for Christian Eriksen.
Start Fernandes, bring on Eriksen in the 60th minute if Fernandes hasn’t done anything, then start Eriksen in cup games and also premier league games if Fernandes drops off.
I am advising based on a 4-2-3-1 formation and Sancho is my starting RW. Difficult start to the premier league but obviously quality, he’s got years left on his contract and he’ll find his rhythm soon enough. The whole Greenwood situation has made this more difficult but a sub RW is needed now and Anthony looks a good shout.
Worked with Ten Haag, a definite baller, but if I’m Man U I’m trying to sign Raphinha at all costs. Why let a rival strengthen and with a player of his quality who is premier league proven and they need a RW it should be a no brainer.
He’s done amazingly for a pretty bad team where he’s probably had to do his fair share of helping out defending so in a team where he can stay forward a lot more I think he’ll be very impactful, plus they get to weaken Leeds. So start Sancho, but if he or the LW drops off then Raphinha makes the team, thats what I would do.
Rashford is my starting LW but like I said if he plays badly and can’t score his chances then Sancho will go LW and Raphinha Is RW. Elanga as back up as he’s developing into a very good player. Maybe Neymar if there’s £50 million spare.
Ronaldo is a proven goalscorer even at 38 years of age. He’ll get 20 goals in the premier league with this team behind him, it really just depends on whether Sancho, Rashford and Raphina can match his goals that will decide if Man U can win the league this year. Start him every game in the premier league. He only needs a back up if he gets injured, which I don’t think is humanly possible. Start Rashford or Raphina striker in cup games, or Martial or other academy prospects. Could also sell Martial if a team can afford his wages, but I’d keep him as sub this season.
So How Much Do Man U Need To Spend?
So that’s how you fix Man U. Not that money matters to Manchester United but just to show the maths and the working out, including the ones Man U have already done, my arrivals are the goalie Daniel Bachmann, probably around £2 million, could be less but lets say £2 million, Skriniar who is valued at £58 million but seeing as how he’s on his last year could be cheaper but just to beat the competition for his signature lets say we pay on the high side for him so let’s say £40 million, Sidibe from Monaco for free, Rice for maybe £100 million or is that too low?
I think West Ham would take that considering he’s not going to sign a new contract. Ruben Neves for £50 million, again Tielemans would be cheaper but I prefer Neves, plus I don’t think Wolves would actually demand £50 million but I’m just working out the max budget Man U need, Eriksen for free and Raphinha for £60 million. That’s £252 million, Paul Pogba’s removal from the wage bill literally covers that but anyway let’s work out the income from sales. Henderson could be £20 million but that’s next year and not certain so we won’t include that. Selling Maguire would raise potentially £30 million. Let’s be fair and say £20 million actually.
Could sell Phil Jones for £1 million I’m sure, try to sell him to the same fools who pay £20 million for Maguire. Sell Dalot for £20 million, £10 million for Brandon Williams, £30 million for McTominay, and £10 million for Pereira, I’d sell Chong for £2 million and loan out the other wingers who are still in development and not a part of the team as described above. That’s £93 million if my calculations are correct, bringing net spend to £159 million.
Admittedly, that’s a lot, but it’s a problem Man U have been avoiding for years as the owners continue to suck all profits out of the club and refuse to heavily invest as they should. And they should’ve done this years ago but we are where we are.
Last year their net transfers were £-98 million which is not too far off, the year before it was £-57 million and the year before it was £-138 million, the season they bought Maguire. They’ve actually had consecutive net losses in the transfer market since selling Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009 so this plan a – is not absurd due to the price – and b – can genuinely see things turn around.