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Football News: Manchester United Need A Complete Squad Overhaul

Manchester United Need A Complete Squad Overhaul

I think the reality will soon start to bite for us Manchester United fans. Most of us have been swept up in the emotion and relief that the Glazers will no longer be in control and that has led to many thinking / hoping we will see a revolution this summer, with sweeping changes.

The problem is that INEOS have a million fires to put out and address to get the club back where we need to be. SJR has repeatedly stated that it'll take a minimum of three years (three summer windows in his most recent interview). Which is what I've been saying from the start.

No club has ever been successful when trying to make loads of massive changes quickly. The problem with that is it creates chaos, many of the changes don't work and it becomes impossible to work out why. Did they not work because they were the wrong thing to do, or did they not work because the support wasn't there due to other changes at the club?

Chelsea have had a similar issue since the takeover, sweeping changes, to the structure, the personnel and the playing squad. They are now on their 4th manager in under 2 years, about to try and start a new project with this new manager again.

They sold / moved on all those older players who needed replacing, and replaced them with much younger players for the future. Yet they lost key elements of the dressing room, and had a lack of experience on the pitch. They've hired managers with vastly different playing styles and tactical ideas. Probably further confusing the young squad. They are now still at least 2 years away from being challengers at the top of the table.

Which means even after massive changes it'll still take them at least 4 years to get back to the top. While they were arguably in a much better place when they were taken over than we were when INEOS came in. They arguably didn't need a massive revolution, but a few slow tweaks to change the club to suit the new ownership and steady evolution of the squad. The change everything immediately attitude has ultimately just delayed their ability to challenge for top honours.

As for Manchester United, we need to completely overhaul the squad. Its a disjointed Frankenstein squad made up of different parts from different failed projects under various managers. There are probably fewer than 8 players in this squad of 38 players who'll still be here when we next challenge for a title.

Yet you can't bring in 17-18 players in one, two or probably even three summer windows without massively upsetting the applecart to the point that you can't maintain progress on the pitch in terms of performances or results.

In my opinion the first thing we need to do is thin down the squad. Too many players make it difficult for managers and coaches to get their message across clearly, or work with individuals to help them improve and adapt to the new tactics.

As a teacher, I can comfortably say that the quality of learning in my classroom goes up with a small group of students compared to a larger group. My ability as a teacher doesn't change, but the time I can spend with individuals, tailoring my teaching and the clarity in which the content is delivered does increase, meaning better learning.

We keep asking why managers struggle to get a defined playing style. Well a big part of that is it will be difficult to coach nearly 40 players how you want just 11 of them to play. We can easily afford to let go twice as many players this summer than we sign, maybe even more. 10-12 leaving with maybe 4 or 5 joining is probably about right.

The problem is who do we let go this summer, and who do we keep. With a lot of that dictated by forces outside of the club's control. We can only sell players if we get acceptable offers, while some will want to leave, and might even push to, with others not wanting to leave despite being pushed.

Add to that the financial mess the club is in with profit and sustainability rules (PSR) massively limiting our budget, making us more reliant on sales. This reliance on sales is compounded by other clubs having similar financial issues meaning they are limited in what they can spend which will mean we will have to accept lower offers than we'd like if we are to facilitate transfers.

That's the issue when it comes to raising funds and trimming the squad. Then when we look at actually buying players there are just as many hurdles if not more. To start with we are shopping in a very small pool of players who are both good enough for where we want to be, have the right attitude and are available this summer.

We then have to compete with other top sides for those players, both financially but also we need to sell the club to those players. Why sign for United who'll be in the Europa league, and haven't challenged for a league title for over a decade, when you could sign for a Uefa Champions League club who have challenged for a won titles recently? Yes its a new project at United with new owners, but they have zero track record to go on. We haven't even got all the key guys in the building and working for the club yet.

The reality is that we have a limited budget but will still likely have to overpay for a few players both in terms of transfer fees and wages / agents fees to get deals across the line for players who are good enough. Otherwise our options will be overpay for those that aren't good enough (continuing to waste money), or not buy anyone. Things like being told we can't sign a player like Todibo who'd have been a great signing even at the going market rate, just further compounds the issue.

That overpaying for those that are good enough / the right fit will limit our limited budget further meaning we will not be able to sign as many players as we might hope this summer. Better to sign 3 to 4 players who actually fit the club, are good enough, improve the team and work out. Than to sign 7 to 8 players where most don't work out, aren't good enough and ultimately become a waste of our limited budget.

With a limited budget, in a difficult market, and with all the upheaval around the club it will be nearly impossible to have a big squad overhaul this summer. I'd expect most of the outgoings will be those who hardly play any minutes. Players like Lindelof, Donny, Williams, Alvaro Fernandez, Hannibal and Pellistri. Along with a few players leaving on a free like Varane, Martial, Shoretire and Forson.

I wouldn't be surprise if Eriksen joins them with a deal being arranged to cancel his final year to allow him to leave. We then have the obvious sales of Greenwood and Sancho for non-footballing reasons. While Amrabat is unlikely to get a permanent deal. That's 14 players, very few of them have played significant minutes for us last season. While the club is in negotiations with Heaton and Evans on new one year deals.

Others that the club will sell if a good enough offer comes in would be Antony, Casemiro, and AWB. The reality is that we are unlikely to see good enough offers, and if they are sold, then replacements would need to be sought. AWB looks most likely of them to be sold, Antony absolutely won't be, Casemiro is 50 / 50 in my opinion.

I doubt the likes of Maguire, McTominay, Bruno or Rashford will be considered for sale this summer despite many fans wanting those players to be moved on. It'd probably need to be "can't afford to turn it down" sized offers for the club to change their mind I'd expect.

As for incomings I'd expect a CB to replace Varane, with Lindelof's minutes being replaced by Kambwala most likely. A midfielder to replace Amrabat / Eriksen. With Collyer being promoted to replace Hannibal / Donny. A striker to replace Martial and give Hojlund some competition and a rotation option.

Beyond those three signings, I think it'll be depending on who we sell as to which players we buy. If AWB is sold then I'd expect a RB to replace him. Hopefully though the club do so sensibly and sign someone who can play both RB and CB to give us addition cover.

If it's Casemiro then I'd expect a second midfielder to join. If it's Maguire (unlikely in my opinion) then a second CB will need to be signed. If Antony is sold (highly unlikley) then we will need to look for a winger. For these reasons I've always thought the clubs pursuit of Olise was unlikley to lead anywhere.

It's clear that Branthwaite is the first choice at CB, and it makes a lot of sense. He is the right profile; young, strong, good defensively, great in the air, good on the ball, mobile and quick enough to play a high line and defend in the channel, has EPL experience and counts as homegrown. Also be is comfortable playing either LCB or RCB. That flexibility will be important given that we will be limited on how many players we can sign / replace this summer.

The club might not want to spend 60 million plus on him, but the reality is that now Todibo has been ruled out, the other options mean compromising on at least 2 or 3 of the factors that make Branthwaite a good choice. Is it better to sign someone who can be first choice for the next decade for 60-70 million or the next Lindelof for 40 million? Other players with similar quality and potential to Branthwaite will cost at least 60 million, players like Yoro, Antonio Silva or Ousemane Diomande.

None of which have proven themselves in the English Premier League (EPL), none count as homegrown, and none have the same blend of skills. While some might be better on the ball or quicker, they aren't as good defensively, or in the air, or able to play either side of a CB partnership. Things we need to consider when finding a partner for Martinez or cover for him if his injury issues continue.

The striker option preferred by the club appears to be Zirkzee, which with his release clause along with his talent and profile make him a very easy target. We won't find a cheaper, better alternative. He is good enough, has experience at a top club, and his profile makes him a really good alternative to Hojlund, adding tactical flexibility to the squad. While his contract situation makes this a fairly quick and simple deal to conclude. Meaning the club can focus more time on other deals, both in and out.

Midfield I'm really not sure who the club will sign. Joao Neves and Amadou Onana are the two most linked names, yet neither seem likely given their cost. Joao Gomes seems like one to keep an eye on, right sort of profile (physical, athletic, defensively strong and good on the ball - ideal partner for Mainoo), EPL proven, wouldn't be as costly as some, and with great potential.

The player I like is Youssef Fofana, available for a relative bargain as well with his contract up next summer. Great physicality, loads of energy, strong defensively and great on the ball. Can play either as a sitting defensive midfielder or as a box to box player. Only downside is he isn't EPL proven, but personally I think Ligue 1 is as good a training ground for a move to the EPL as there is across Europe.

Another EPL player I think would be a good option but hasn't been linked is Cheick Doucoure from Crystal Palace. Although with Olise likely to leave for Bayern Munich now they will have less reason to sell and he might cost more than we'd be willing to spend.

Of those who might go, AWB seems most likely. I'd like to see us sign someone like Mohamed Simakan as a replacement. Someone who can play RB or CB if needed, giving us a flexible player who still has the quality to be first choice.

I wouldn't be surprised, in fact I'm expecting a summer like this. clearing mostly those players who don't play, have an expiring contract or need to be shifted for other reasons. With 3 definite signings, most likely Branthwaite, Joao Gomes and Zirkzee, with one maybe two more depending on who else we sell. Then relying on a few youngsters to step up and plug a few gaps, Kambwala, Amass, Collyer, Amad and Wheatley the likely candidates.

With the squad possibly looking something like this:

GK - Onana, Bayindir, Heaton.

Def - Dalot, (AWB or Simakan), Maguire, Evans, Martinez, Branthwaite, Kambwala, Malacia, Shaw, Amass.

Mid - Mainoo, (Joao Gomes or Fofana), (Casemiro or replacement), McTominay, Bruno, Mount, Collyer.

Fwd - Rashford, Garnacho, Amad, Antony, Hojlund, Zirkzee, Wheatley.

Obviously still a long way off of where we need the squad to be, but younger, fresher, with more talent and less bloated.

23 regular players with Kambwala, Amass, Collyer and Wheatley all likely to get the majority of their minutes in the Under 21's, with maybe game time in the early EFL cup or Europa league games, unless needed to cover for injuries.

Written by Shappy June 22 2024 17:44:04


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