The Manchester Evening News understands that Erik ten Hag is set to be Manchester United’s next manager and his appointment will hopefully mark the start of a new era at the club. But with a new project comes the need for signings to facilitate the new manager’s philosophy and style of play.
However, United have made mistakes by signing ‘marquee’ names in the past without any clear idea what to do with them. Paul Pogba is, unfortunately, among them and the fan base on Saturday made their thoughts clear at Old Trafford by booing him as he was substituted against Norwich.
While a number of Pogba’s poor performances are down to his own efforts, the bigger problem is that United seemingly signed him with few plans for him to be put to better use. The same can be said for Donny van de Beek who was signed and then rarely played by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
READ MORE: Erik ten Hag’s model with Ajax hints at first Manchester United transfer
So there are two main approaches to solving this problem. The first is that you are upgrading your scouting department and targeting profiles rather than individuals and this is something that will need to be done under Ten Hag as you cannot just buy the whole Ajax squad.
For crucial positions such as defensive midfielder, striker and Pogba’s substitute, this will need to be done to ensure Ten Hag can get the ball running quickly. And United have already started drawing up shortlists for those positions, which include Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Aurelien Tchouameni.
But the second option is to sign a number of low-cost young players who fit the basic profiles of what you want and then develop them to the required standard. With Ten Hag reportedly telling the United board the project could take up to five years, allowing players to grow alongside the team could be the option for a number of positions, particularly in areas where players will be past their prime by the end. .
Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite is a United-linked player. The 19-year-old centre-back impressed on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season and is part of the Merseyside club’s first team this year.
A young centre-back would likely replace United’s current fourth and fifth-choice options of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones and give them a player who will be fully integrated into the squad at a time when Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane were both on the wrong side of 30.
Going forward, that’s something United need to consider. It’s both profitable and although more risky, it would allow the manager to find hungry young players willing to learn his style and grow with the team.
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