A Pivotal Summer Ahead...




Many will have woken up to the news of a chance meeting between Richard Arnold and a group of supporters at a local pub in Manchester. Alerted to plans of a Glazer protest outside of his home, Richard Arnold met up with fans at a local pub to discuss the direction of the club and the immediate priorities ahead of what promises to be a pivotal summer for Manchester United.


After a disappointing 21/22 campaign, the planned protest is yet another indication of how high tensions are and is further proof that the club cannot afford to get off to a characteristic slow start to this summer transfer window.


One of the key takeaways from this meeting with fans was that funds are available to back manager, Erik Ten Hag, and Football Director, John Murtough, to recruit players for the new season and as such, we discuss the priority areas that need addressing.


Midfield


Manchester United fans have become resigned to that fact that the club’s current midfield options are not good enough to compete at the highest level, particularly with the loss of players like Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata. Thankfully then, the club appears intent on bringing in Frenkie De Jong, a midfielder who excels in ball retention and ball progression and will provide a much-needed upgrade on current options Mctominay and Fred. The club also appear keen on recruiting Christian Eriksen who would be a valuable option with his elite ball striking, progressive passing and set piece deliveries.


Whilst both signings would be a positive, most would still agree there is a need for a more defensive minded midfielder to add some much-needed steel to a midfield light on defensive security. Worryingly, there hasn’t been much by way of meaningful links to any such midfielder, albeit that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t on the list of the club’s priorities.


One might argue that the club should be looking at midfielders such as Cheick Doucoure, Ibrahim Sangare and Kouadio Kone to compliment the more forward-thinking midfielders we are currently linked to. A midfield comprising of one of the players above, in addition to Frenkie De Jong, Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Donny Van de Beek, Scott McTominay, Fred and potentially James Garner suddenly looks capable of competing with the very best in the league, at least on paper!


Attack


Erik Ten Hag is likely to believe he can bring the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho back to their best but the fact remains that Cristiano Ronaldo aside, the club’s forward options failed to deliver in the 21/22 campaign. Most of the club’s current options appear to favour the left flank and when coupled with the loss of #11 from the squad in January, there is a need to add goals to the forward line.


At the start of the summer, the club appeared to have real interest in recruiting Darwin Nunez who had a breakout season with Benfica last year, scoring 34 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions. However, the striker has since moved to Liverpool with United unwilling to spend up to £85 million on one target with so many other areas in the squad also needing to be addressed.


The club are now unlikely to bring in a centre forward to share the load with Cristiano Ronaldo but should instead turn their attentions to recruiting a right sided forward to provide balance to a forward line which currently hosts a number of wingers who prefer to operate on the left-hand side. In recent times we have seen Antony linked with a move to the club but there are other options including Raphinha, Moussa Diaby and Malcolm Ebiowei who could fill the void left by the departed #11 and provide a much needed outlet on that right hand side.


Defence


Whilst the club are certainly in need of defensive upgrades, it is perhaps lowest on the list of priorities that immediately need addressing. Nevertheless, the team could do with reinforcements at right back, left back and centre back with a left footed central defender seemingly targeted by the recruitment team.


It is unlikely that the club will be able to address all those areas in one window, but judging from reports, it appears that the club are most interested in providing additional depth at left back, potentially as a replacement for Alex Telles, and a left sided centre back who can also aid in the build up phase. The recruitment of Jurrien Timber had seemed certain but recent reports suggest he has been spooked by Louis Van Gaal’s comments implying he would miss out on a World Cup place if he was no longer playing regularly for his club side.


At centre back, there have been strong links with the likes of Pau Torres, David Carmo and Alessandro Bastoni, all of whom would aid the team when building out from the back and provide balance to the defensive line. The club have also been linked with left back’s Tyrell Malacia and David Raum who would likely compete with Luke Shaw for a starting berth in Ten Hag’s side. The signing of a goalkeeper is necessary but is likely to be addressed in a future window given the number of other areas that need reinforcements.


Yesterday’s meeting with fans was another timely reminder of the amount of pressure and scrutiny on both Richard Arnold and John Murtough. If the club are serious about effecting positive change, then they need to ensure they perform strongly in this summer’s transfer window, addressing as many areas of need as possible or risk being seen as another extension of Ed Woodward’s failed regime of the last 9 years. The fans are watching closely.

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