Manchester United fans can occasionally be accused of getting overexcited in the transfer window.
Last summer we set ourselves up for a fall once again, with the signings of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and then Cristiano Ronaldo tipped to be the final pieces of the puzzle needed for United to finally mount a genuine title challenge once again. Of course, it didn’t take long for those dreams to be shattered.
United currently sit 21 points behind Manchester City, with the club’s goals for the season now shifted significantly and a top-four finish viewed as a solid campaign.
You see, that’s the problem with these ‘final piece of the puzzle’ signings at United – they often fail to fully deliver.
It was the same when Jose Mourinho signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal four years ago.
Beating cross-town rivals City to any player’s signature is always going to build up the hype around the new arrival, though it soon became apparent that he wouldn’t have the impact United fans had hoped.
Meanwhile, City opted to sign Riyad Mahrez the following summer. It’s probably fair to say the Algerian has had a better time at City than Sanchez ‘enjoyed’ at United.
Had Sanchez moved to City, he would have become an offensive cog in a well-oiled machine. However, United signed him in the hope he would solve all their problems and the pressure put on him to perform is perhaps one of the reasons he turned out to be a flop.
Ever since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, United have looked for the shortcut back to the top, signing big names in the hope that one new arrival can bring them success. While the odd trophy has been won, the halcyon days of the past seem like a lifetime ago.
The club need to start looking at the squad as a whole rather than a group of individuals. What do they need? What are they missing? Who should they sign to improve in the areas they are struggling? These are the questions that should be getting asked.
Ralf Rangnick will help with this process as he’s already shown with the Red Bull projects at both Salzburg and Leipzig, where their scouting systems are now among some of the best in the world.
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Rangnick can lead the project moving forward but United fans will need to accept that things will take time.
Overall, United need to move away from marquee signings like Ronaldo and Sanchez, and start focusing on signing players who fit the system and can improve the areas most in need of strengthening.
That’s not to say big-name signings should be a thing of the past – if they’re the right man for the job then brilliant – but a player’s ability and profile should be the most important thing considered when looking to make a signing.
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