Manchester United are in the midst of another bad season. The Red Devils are a long way from their glory days under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Since Fergie’s departure in 2013, Manchester United have won just one FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League. They signed Cristiano Ronaldo in the last summer transfer window, but even that wasn’t enough, and they are set to end the 2021-22 season without a single trophy. They badly need to get back to their best, so here are three directions Manchester United can take to rebuild and regain their status as Premier League giants.
Possible rebuilding directions for Manchester United
Promotion of young people
Even though they’ve splashed a ton of money on big-name signings over the past few years, many of their most successful players have actually been developed at Manchester’s own academy. Sure, signings like Bruno Fernandes have gone well, but there have been more concerning decisions than beneficial ones. When it comes to their youngsters, guys like Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Mason Greenwood and most recently Anthony Elanga have come out swinging. Of course, Greenwood’s tenure at Manchester remains unclear as it is the subject of major controversy following his arrest and suspension from the club. Rashford has enjoyed huge success since joining the first team, and although he has had a down year in 2021-22, he is still a vital asset going forward.
It’s not just Manchester United’s academy graduates who should excite Old Trafford fans. They also have other young people who have been brought in. For example, Jadon Sancho had a bad start, but he has since managed to turn things around in the second half of the season. Moreover, Diogo Dalot has managed to consolidate his place at right-back, having excelled throughout the season. If United can continue to see the development of young talent, this team can recover quickly, without breaking the bank to do so.
Build an identity around a coach
Manchester United have been linked with a number of managers this summer, assuming Ralf Rangnick is not brought back at the end of the season.
Firstly, Diego Simeone could be the perfect coach to turn the tide at Manchester United. He is one of the few managers in modern football to have his own style. Simeone shapes his team to match his demanding style of play, and he will make sure the players put in their maximum effort every moment of the game. His coaching style doesn’t always yield great results offensively, but he could help restore the Manchester United defense to its former glory. With a few egos in this dressing room, we can only speculate how Simeone might be able to ensure egos are put aside for the good of the team. It was Simeone’s Atletico Madrid who knocked United out of the Champions League, so perhaps this game was an eye opener for Manchester.
Another option for the club could be Erik ten Hag, who is currently the coach of Ajax. He is said to have met and marveled at Manchester United chiefs before, and he could also be a manager capable of implementing his plan regardless of the roster. He has long been tied to the vacancy and hasn’t shied away from his desire to reprise the role. He is, however, far less experienced than Simeone, who has two Champions League finals and two La Liga titles. But Ten Hag has only impressed throughout his coaching career. Its main appeal is that its ‘total football’ approach has led Ajax to play an incredible brand of football and it would be heaven to watch for Manchester United fans.
Spend big, but on the right targets
In the past five seasons, only two clubs have spent more than Manchester United on the EPL. Of course, one is Manchester City, with seemingly unlimited funds available, and the other is Chelsea, who are set to lose a ton of buying power due to sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich. Still, Chelsea have a 2017 title and a 2021 Champions League to boast about, while Manchester City have three of the last five Premier League titles and they are battling for their fourth this season. Manchester United, on the other hand, massively underperformed. But that doesn’t mean they have to stop spending – they just have to spend smarter. The money will always be there for a club of United’s stature, however, the club have failed to properly identify players who will fit well into the squad.
What Manchester United need is an elite centre-back, a great midfielder and a player who will play on the left wing. Options for these players are readily available throughout Europe. They could go for someone like Kalidou Koulibaly, a great centre-back to pair with Raphael Varane. In the middle, someone like Aurelien Tchouameni could be perfect to play behind Bruno Fernandes and keep the midfield secure. Last but not least, Ajax’s Antony is having a fantastic season and he could be a winger who gives United’s attack an extra edge. There are solutions on the transfer market, it’s just a matter of finding the right ones, and not rushing to overpay a player who is not necessarily a good candidate.