The tough summer transfer window ahead of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United
In a span of a few months, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has gone from a rather unlikely choice as interim manager to grabbing the job on a permanent basis. Everyone is in awe of him, the fans, the players, and the media and he now finds himself in his “dream job”.
A couple of weeks back, United's ex manager Louis van Gaal gave an interview with BBC where he suggested that the only difference at Old Trafford since Solskjaer’s arrival were the results and nothing much. The Dutchman said:
“Now there is another coach who parks the bus and plays on the counter. The main difference between Mourinho and Solskjaer is that Solskjaer is winning.”
Considering the style of play Manchester United used to have during his time as manager with draws as the only outcome, that’s a slightly harsh assessment. It is true that although Ole has dramatically improved results, it is evident that performances overall need a dramatic change in the upcoming season.
Solskjaer is working with a team that he inherited from Jose Mourinho and is yet to put his own stamp on things in the club after opting not to tinker in the January transfer window. With the Champions League and FA cup hopes finished, United have only one target of finishing in the top four in hopes of playing Champions League football next season.
United first need to recruit a director of football, someone who will assist Ole in picking up world-class additions in order to compete for major honours. Against Barcelona, it was evident that they are in dire need of a defensive midfield player; someone who will hold the ball and win challenges and stop opponents from going into the defense.
Defensive signings are imperative as per the recent results, with the Red Devils being forced to place too much trust in ageing performers such as their 33-year-old right-back Young. Manchester United haven’t had a decent right-back since Gary Neville retired, and it is clear that the club have got a problem when they’re putting old wingers at full-back.
Mourinho acquired Diogo Dalot in the right-back position last season but he needs time to grow, something which United can't afford to have if they want to compete with the likes of City and Liverpool.
With Alexis Sanchez completely out of form since he joined United, having started just five games for United since Solskjaer arrival, he may be the first one to be shown the door. The problem is that not many clubs can match his wage demands and also, who would be willing to spend money on a player who seems to have lost his touch.
BBC also reported that United are in agreement talks with the midfield duo of Herrera and Mata, who are out of contract at the end of the season but there’s no assurance that they’ll stay.
According to several media reports, Herrera has already held talks of joining the French giants Paris St-Germain next season even though it has not been confirmed by the players’ representatives or the club.
Other players under the pump of being cleared out are Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian. Club captain Valencia has already declared officially that this will be his last season with Manchester United.
One player that United dearly don't want to let go this summer is David de Gea and the club is confident that he will stay.
He has not been that great in transfers as was evident in his time at Cardiff and this summer transfer window will tell us what Solskjaer’s learned about buying and selling players. His top priorities have to be a center forward, a defensive midfield player and a winger.
When asked how important finishing in the the top four is for attracting talent, during a press interview, Solskjaer said:
"All the players want to play in the Champions League. I think to play in the Champions League for Manchester United is a bigger thing for many and we know we can't live off our name and tradition and history. We want to attract good players that want to improve the players we have here: Paul Pogba, David de Gea, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. All these top players we have - they need players to challenge them because no one should feel 100 per cent secure to be in the starting XI.".
Revamping the squad will be his top priority and it will be a test of whether Solskjaer has inculcated any of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary ruthless streak during his playing days at the Theatre of Dreams.