Manchester United – Unambitious And Under Prepared

Manchester United’s 2020-21 Premier League season started with a whimper yesterday as they lost 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace (BBC Match Report).

The scoreline didn’t flatter Palace and that must concern the United hierarchy, yet I think a lot of Man Utd’s issues start and finish in the boardroom.

Preparations weren’t great leading into the new campaign, outside factors haven’t helped. Obviously there wasn’t a big gap between this season and last due to the Covid-19 pandemic and United suffered more than most due to them getting to the latter stages of the Europa League. Then there was the international week. Those factors have meant that Man Utd haven’t had a strong preseason and that certainly showed last night.

Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already said they’re playing catch up:

“We need games, we need sharpness and time to get back to our best. We are going to get better but we are playing catch-up.”

Via BBC Sport

But United have also been slow in the transfer market and that’s while competitors have done more to improve their squads.

The only new signing Man Utd manager Solskjaer was able to select against The Eagles was Donny van de Beek. Now I believe the Dutchman will prove to be an astute signing but that one deal isn’t enough.

Everyone and their granny knew what the Old Trafford squad needed to improve if they were going to kick on and become silverware challengers.

They need another mobile centre half. Victor Lindelof had a horror showing against Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew. They bullied him and Harry Maguire couldn’t save the defence either. Yet there doesn’t seem to be much happening on that front in the transfer market. At the same time both Arsenal and Manchester City have gone out and spent money on new centre-backs!

I’d also suggest that there’s a need to bring in a new left-back to fight for Luke Shaw’s spot within the starting line-up. They have been linked with FC Porto’s Alex Telles (The Mirror) but a deal still hasn’t been reached. Sergio Reguilon was also a reported target but the Spaniard completed a move to Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.

United’s biggest transfer story of the summer has been their supposed pursuit of England international forward Jadon Sancho. Yet a move doesn’t seem to be close with Borussia Dortmund happy to key him in Germany.

Now a big problem for Man United seems to be that they’ve put all their eggs in the Sancho basket. Dortmund know that and clearly want over £100m for the player and if United don’t have any other targets then the German side will just hold out for that premium fee. It was the same with Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, who United tried to do deals for and then ended up signing for the selling sides asking price further down the line.

United have to be smarter in the transfer window. They need to identify what positions need filled, a few players that could fill those roles and then make bids early.

They would probably be helped out if they had either a Sporting Director or a Director of Football within their club structure to be on hand to push things forward from a football administrative point of view. 

Current Chief Executive Ed Woodward has proven himself a great negotiator when it comes to bringing top level sponsors but his dealing within the transfer market have been slow and simply not good enough.

Supposedly Manchester United have been on the hunt for a new director to sort out the footballing side of the business for two or three years now, the fact they haven’t appointed one yet shows how disjointed and unorganised they really are as a football club.

As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already stated Man United are playing catch-up and that goes for on and off the field. The club need to be more ambitious, be better prepared and smarter with their thinking.

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