Manchester United’s attention is now firmly cast on the transfer window, ahead of a summer that could make or break Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.
Defeat in the Europa League final to Villarreal leaves United‘s four-year wait for a trophy facing an extension, while Solskjaer is awaiting his first honour as United manager.
Pressure will now be placed upon the Norwegian boss once again ahead of the new season, with that trophy hunt needing to come to an end.
The transfer window is an important opportunity for United, with holes within the squad to fill and areas requiring improvement – and Solskjaer needs to be backed where Jose Mourinho previously wasn’t.
Who should Manchester United sign this summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Rolling back the clock three years to 2018, United had finished the campaign as runners-up in the Premier League to Manchester City and the transfer window that followed was a failure – which ultimately led to the collapse of the Portuguese’s reign at Old Trafford.
Fred and Diogo Dalot both arrived at the club but United did not sign Harry Maguire, who Mourinho had talked to extensively that summer, until the following year.
United were put off by Leicester City’s asking price for Maguire, only to meet their demands the following year, while other targets requested by Mourinho were not signed – with Ed Woodward vetoing a number of decisions made by the then-manager.
Mourinho was prepared to offload Anthony Martial, something Woodward did not want to do, while Jerome Boateng was another player fancied by the Portuguese boss – but again, the United hierarchy said no.
The big hole in the squad that summer was in the centre of defence – with Solskjaer facing an eerily similar situation in the coming months as he looks for the ideal partner for Maguire, the man United prevented Mourinho from signing.
Back then, United and Mourinho were on two different pages. The club wanted long-term fixes, Mourinho was eyeing recruits who could provide an immediate impact. The manager was not backed and the following sequence of events that ultimately led to Solskjaer succeeding him at Old Trafford does not need to be retold.
This year, the club and Solskjaer need to be on the same page and the Norwegian needs to be backed in the transfer market. Otherwise, it could be a familiar scene for United next season as they look to close the gap upon City and fight for honours.
Fortunately, the early signs are promising. United have held talks with the entourage of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, a player the club incidentally were interested in signing during Mourinho’s reign but it became clear he would not leave the Spanish capital.
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In terms of a right-sided attacker, Jadon Sancho seems the safe bet with the club singing from the same hymn sheet in that pursuit – although it may again raise questions as to why the deal was completed 12 months after heavy interest was already shown.
The sooner United get their business done this summer, the better. Indeed, the transfer situation will be complicated by the European Championship but, if the club has the same view on targets that Solskjaer has, it shouldn’t present too much of an issue.
Put simply though, the club need to put the ball in Solskjaer’s court and allow him to make the decisions on the market, providing the necessary support to get the deals across the line. If they don’t, it could make for another forgetful period.