The end of Manchester United’s 2018/2019 season marked the completion of one of the more exasperating campaigns in the post-Sir Alex era. Riddled with managerial turnover and shock defeats, the summer transfer window is a welcomed opportunity for Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to renovate several of the issues stopping the Red Devils from maintaining the reputation of being one of the most threatening sides in the Premier League.
Of course, it will take more than there three objectives to restore a winning mentality at Old Trafford. However, here are three essential things Solskjaer and company must accomplish in the long overdue rebuilding process this summer.
Appoint a Director of Football
Meant to serve as an intermediary between the manager and the board, the technical director of football is a role United have never had. However, it appears to have worked for cross-town rivals Manchester City. Txiki Begiristain has occupied that role at the Etihad since 2012, and his contributions have paid off in the form of back-to-back domestic titles.
Solskjaer’s success during his tenure as caretaker manager was largely credited to his insight into and fondness for United. While things took a dismal turn once he was given the reins on a permanent basis, it’s nonetheless worth noting that nostalgia played a role in the Norwegian’s success .
With that being said, several of the rumors surrounding who will hold this inaugural position link to former Red Devil stars. Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher and Edwin van der Sar are just a few of the names that have been tossed around in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Manchester Evening News reported that Dimitar Berbatov nominated himself for the role, toting his coaching accolades as reasons why he’s the best fit.
“After Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher is the latest name linked with the Director of Football role but why not Dimitar Berbatov? I have the degree in Sports Management (as well as coaching badges) for starters,” the Bulgarian argued.
The eventual director would not only have to secure those desirable signings on the promise of only Europa League football, but also reassure current players that effective change is coming.
Offload the extra weight
Sure, many supporters have certain players whose departure could be met with bouts of anger and sadness. Just this year, the club bid adieu to Marouane Fellaini in January and Ander Herrera this month. Both controversial in their own regard, they contributed to some of United’s success with memorable goals or exceptional play. Unfortunately, nostalgia doesn’t win trophies and many on the current roster have overstayed their welcome.
The obvious one who needs to leave — let alone should have never arrived — is Alexis Sánchez. Once regarded as the best player in the Premier League, the Chilean has failed to impress since donning Manchester red. He was acquired in a swap for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a move which fans and critics alike celebrated. Fast-forward 18 months into his term and the Sánchez experiment has run its course. It appears Sanchez harbors similar sentiments. The Independent reported that as of Wednesday, the 30-year-old could be taking his talents to Serie A. Word is Manchester United are even willing to pay the striker in name only to go their separate ways.
Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones round out the shortlist of names who should have played their final match in a United shirt this season. Offload those five and sign an equal amount of younger, hungrier players ready to compete for a first-team spot.
Identify realistic goals for this transfer window
Playing on Thursdays next week is not the reality United anticipated after a record-breaking start after Mou was sacked. Still, these are the circumstances that await Solskjaer. Woodward reportedly promised in his first transfer window as manager Solskjaer would have his blessing to complete whatever “major overhaul” the 46-year-old has been hinting.
This undertaking could set United back £200 million. Unlike his reluctance with the Special One last summer, Woodward seems keen to splash some money this time around.
“Everyone at the club -- the board, the manager, the squad and all the staff -- are resolute in our desire to get United back to the top of English football,” he said on Thursday, via The Independent. “We continually look to improve staff on and off the pitch to achieve this.”
He continued: “The strength of our business means we have the financial resources to continue to provide a solid foundation for backing the manager and creating success on the pitch.”
With such a declaration, the front office must surely have targets they’re happy to open the pocketbooks for. Many will argue that a new manager deserves a summer transfer window and pre-season where some if not most of the lineup consist of his newly acquired signings and his ideologies are acclimated across all players. In customary form, United have been linked with just about every name in European football. While some aren’t likely to play at The Theatre of Dreams as a member of the home side, identifying players who excite fans and are just as ready to challenge Manchester City for the title next year will lay the groundwork for more silverware and a comeback for Manchester United Football Club.