The big decisions facing Jim Ratcliffe and Manchester United this summer

From signings to sales and the wider club management, Manchester United face some big decisions heading into the summer.

Minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is determined to take the 20-time league winners back to the top and, here, we had a look at the job in hand.

What is the situation at United?

The club are struggling on the pitch and in a state of transition off it. Having bowed out of Europe before Christmas and now all but certain to miss out on Champions League qualification, the FA Cup final against Manchester City on May 25 offers United the chance to end a largely miserable campaign on a high. The temperature has naturally increased on Erik ten Hag’s hotseat during a poor season in which ambitious Ineos is having to consider how best to take the club forward. It has been looking under the hood since Ratcliffe struck a deal in December, then officially took control of football operations at United when the £1.3billion minority ownership deal was ratified by relevant parties in February.

What changes have there been so far?

Ineos is understood to feel fundamental changes are needed across the board to right a ship that has increasingly gone off course since the Glazers’ controversial leveraged takeover in 2005. Poaching Omar Berrada as chief executive from Manchester City was the first step on a journey to what United said was putting “football and performance on the pitch back at the heart of everything we do”. The move was announced in January and Berrada is due to start in mid-July, bringing much-needed leadership and clarity to a club where he will again work closely with Jason Wilcox. Another former high-ranking City employee, the 53-year-old this month left his role as Southampton’s director of football to become technical director at United. Wilcox will serve in a heightened position until Dan Ashworth joins from Newcastle as sporting director. Still on gardening leave with talks at an impasse, he is not expected to be in place for the summer window. Football director John Murtough has left in the meantime and is the most eye-catching exit under Ineos to date.

What is happening with the manager?

After winning the Carabao Cup, reaching an FA Cup final and finishing third in his first season, things have gone awry during a bumpy, injury-hit second campaign under Ten Hag. Pressure has mounted on the Dutchman, who has just one year left on his deal, and he has come out fighting, angered by what he feels are harsh perceptions and a belief that United do not need to start from scratch. Ten Hag has been involved in all recruitment meetings and pre-season tour planning, but it remains to be seen whether he will be there to see it through. FA Cup glory would surely earn him the chance to start another season as, unlike compatriot Louis van Gaal in 2016, there have been mitigating factors on top of a paucity of standout replacements. Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and Thomas Tuchel are the current bookmakers’ favourites for the post.

What about summer transfers?

After some big spending summers and with their belt tightened, like the rest of Europe, due to profit and sustainability considerations, United’s budget is looking restricted. There is an acknowledgement that they will need to raise money through sales after years of what Ineos believes has been a pattern of poor player trading, but not everyone is up for sale. Young talents Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund are among those ringfenced as the club build for the future. Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek and Hannibal Mejbri are sellable assets returning from loans, while the likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Scott McTominay could attract interest. Speculation continues over Marcus Rashford’s future and Casemiro would be allowed to leave if there the right proposal arrives as links to Saudi Arabia persist. Raphael Varane is set to leave on a free as it stands, although a new deal has not yet been ruled out unlike with Anthony Martial. United are not expected to make Sofyan Amrabat’s loan permanent and it will be interesting to see what Ineos can do this summer.


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