The tremors of the 3-0 shellacking by Sevilla are starting to be felt at Manchester United. Erik Ten Hag has backed his backups to this point but just like Louis Van Gaal went on a clearout after that infamous 4-0 loss to MK Dons, it looks like the 3-0 loss to Sevilla could be the turning point for Erik Ten Hag’s tenure.
states that the futures of a number of senior first-team players are in doubt. Manchester United are in a precarious position regarding Financial Fair Play (FFP) after accumulating debts close to £1 billion.
Therefore, some outgoings are imperative if they are to fill the gaping holes in the current squad. One way to do that would be to supplement the transfer budget by selling underperformers.
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While the club would ideally like to move underperformers on high wages, the reality is that those players are the hardest to shift. Furthermore, United’s headache would increase with Eric Bailly and Alex Telles returning from failed loan spells.
The future of academy graduates with a somewhat established senior presence would be under the most threat.
Players like Anthony Elanga, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe should all fetch close to £15 million that United received for selling James Garner to Everton last summer. Moreover, the sale of academy graduates counts as pure profit in accounting books, easing FFP concerns.
Outside of academy graduates, United could look to sell players who will have an interested market. Victor Lindelof has been a serviceable player for Manchester United since joining but he could be enticed by a club that promises him regular football. Atletico Madrid have been credited with an interest.
Similarly, Scott McTominay and Fred should have an interesting market if made available for sale. McTominay, particularly, has been of interest to Newcastle in a deal that can be fruitful for all parties involved.
Then comes the albatross contracts- underperformers on high wages. Unfortunately, like Paul Pogba, United might just have to bite the bullet and stick it out with these players till their contracts expire or arrange loan moves where they supplement wages.
This is a nightmare scenario as seen in the case of Alex Telles and Eric Bailly. Players like Harry Maguire and if he doesn’t improve- Jadon Sancho, are on this list.
While there is an expectation that Harry Maguire’s established international status would mean a strong set of suitors for his signature, he will arguably have to take a pay cut to join any club.
For Jadon Sancho, next season should be make or break, especially with Pellistri’s emergence and Amad’s successful loan spell at Sunderland. Similarly, Anthony Martial’s future should be in question due to his injury concerns and general inconsistency.
It can also be argued that David de Gea’s status as the club’s No 1 should be under scrutiny. The Spaniard’s contract expires this summer and talks of an extension with a pay cut are underway. However, his style of play is unsuited to a Ten Hag side, an example of which was also seen in the Sevilla game. A list of David de Gea replacements should be looked at.
While such a huge overhaul might seem unrealistic, the reality is that top-level clubs need to be increasingly ruthless in search of success. Manchester City do it regularly to refresh the mental makeup of the squad, and so do other elites like Real Madrid.
Winds of change are blowing at Old Trafford. In the long run, the 3-0 defeat to Sevilla might be remembered as the moment when the Erik Ten Hag era truly started to take shape.