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Massive clear-out and new manager: What next for Manchester United after another alarming season?

Massive clear-out and new manager: What next for Manchester United after another alarming season?
Image Credits: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United were knocked out in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday at the hands of Atletico Madrid, who beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford following another underwhelming display.

United started the game off well but eventually faded, with their inconsistency throughout the whole season summed up by their failure to go in front early on and Atletico Madrid scoring right before half-time.

The second-half performance was terrible to say the least, with no urgency or real sense of quality, despite the numerous attacking players on the pitch.

It basically epitomised their season, which was initially filled with hope, but it has ended up being dreadful considering the calibre of players they bought in the summer.

United can go on about the owners and how the Glazers should leave the club, but it is clear that the problems are starting from on the pitch, and those problems have to be sorted out before things off the pitch.

So what next for United following this catastrophic season?

Clarity over new manager

The main thing that United need to get sorted out is their manager situation. Ralf Rangnick has not been a terrible appointment given that he is an interim manager brought into one of the most turbulent clubs in Europe, making sure to call out players that have underperformed or are unwilling to play for the club.

However, Rangnick is clearly not the long-term solution, and at this point, it is still unclear over who would actually be the solution.

Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are the frontrunners for the job, but at the end of the day, both Ajax and Paris Saint-Germain have also been knocked out of the Champions League at the Round of 16.

However, unlike other contenders for the role, they have shown in the past that they are capable of leading sides to the latter stages of the competition, particularly in the 2018/19 season when they faced off in the Semi-finals as Spurs knocked out Ajax.

United have to get this sorted out as soon as possible, as leaving it to the last minute will not only hinder the recruitment process in terms of signing players, but it will also greatly hinder their preparation ahead of the new season.

Well-needed clear-out

One thing is for certain though, United can't hold on to the current crop of players.

There are some that clearly shouldn't be sold sure, like Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Anthony Elanga, Jadon Sancho, Fred and others, who would be useful either as starters or as squad players.

However, there are so many players that have had countless chances in the team and have constantly failed to impress or else are way past their best, including Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba as well as quite possibly Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo, and many more.

Ronaldo in particular is an interesting one, as he has shown that he can cut it in the side this season and he has scored some crucial goals, but it remains to be seen whether he will want to stay at the club if United fail to get Champions League football.

Most of the others mentioned, and plenty more, have been largely underwhelming, highlighting the frailties in the squad, both in terms of ability and attitude.

It's not to say that United should sell them all in the coming window, but United have to get rid of lots of players, and while they might not be able to get each one's replacement from the transfer market, they have to start looking at their academy more.

Teden Mengi, Hannibal Mejbri, Ethan Laird and James Garner are all players that are waiting to get their chance in the first-team squad, and are all capable of replacing some of the players currently in the senior side, so why not give them a chance next season?

Captaincy and leadership crisis

Massive clear-out and new manager: What next for Manchester United after another alarming season?
Image Credits: Reuters

It is no secret that several United fans are very unhappy with having Maguire as captain, both due to how he was immediately named captain by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer immediately after arriving at the club, and also due to his performances and attitude on and off the pitch, with him making some stark comments in post-match interviews.

With the likes of David de Gea, Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Matic and Varane all at the club, they all have a higher claim to the armband than Maguire, with their leadership on the pitch being much more evident than Maguire's.

Rangnick taking off Maguire late in the game against Atletico Madrid might just be a tactical switch, but it could also be a hint towards the lack of leadership he offers. It just doesn't sit right to substitute your captain in such a huge game, so on the pitch, is he really acting like a captain?

Probably not.

Importance of Champions League Football

This was evident right at the start of the season, but it is now more important than ever given the mass clear-out needed within the squad.

Apart from a massive drop in financial gain, dropping to the Europa League, or worse, the Europa Conference League, it will also hinder moves for potential signings, while also giving the players that actually are worthy of staying at United actually doubt their future at United.

While plenty of them have already played in the Europa League in the past, there are several players that are in high demand, and they might be prized away from the club if the right clubs come in for them.

With Arsenal losing one of their games in hand, and still having the likes of Chelsea and Spurs as their games over United, Rangnick simply has to motivate the squad to get as many points as possible in the remaining few games, as getting Champions League football has never been as important as it is now.

United simply have to address numerous problems that are deep-rooted within the squad, as well as sorting out their managerial situation so that proper planning can take place. However, a great deal of their future hinges on if they get UCL football or not this season.


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