Manchester United are set to announce their first ever technical director in the summer amidst a rebuilding of the club with the likes of Mike Phelan and Rio Ferdinand being linked to the job. This is what Forever Sports editor Stephen Pettitt would do if he was in their shoes.
Right, I hope you are ready because this is going to be a long ride! So buckle up and settle in as I take a long and in-depth look at what needs to happen in the summer and the decisions I would take were I in the position of Technical Director at United.
Assessing the current squad
Manchester United has needed a shake-up for some time and it has now reached a point where the only chance of them ever getting back to the top is a mass overhaul and building project.
To begin with, this is the current Manchester United player roster with the wages listed.
|Player||Date of Birth (Age)||Joined||Contract until||Weekly Wages|
|David de Gea Goalkeeper||Nov 7, 1990 (28)||Jul 1, 2011||30.06.2020||£200,000.00|
|Sergio Romero Goalkeeper||Feb 22, 1987 (32)||Jul 27, 2015||30.06.2021||£50,000.00|
|Lee Grant Goalkeeper||Jan 27, 1983 (36)||Jul 3, 2018||30.06.2020||£20,000.00|
|Victor Lindelöf Centre-Back||Jul 17, 1994 (24)||Jul 1, 2017||30.06.2021||£120,000.00|
|Eric Bailly Centre-Back||Apr 12, 1994 (25)||Jul 1, 2016||30.06.2020||£75,000.00|
|Phil Jones Centre-Back||Feb 21, 1992 (27)||Jul 1, 2011||30.06.2023||£120,000.00|
|Chris Smalling Centre-Back||Nov 22, 1989 (29)||Jul 1, 2010||30.06.2022||£120,000.00|
|Marcos Rojo Centre-Back||Mar 20, 1990 (29)||Aug 20, 2014||30.06.2021||£80,000.00|
|Luke Shaw Left-Back||Jul 12, 1995 (23)||Jul 1, 2014||30.06.2023||£190,000.00|
|Ashley Young Left-Back||Jul 9, 1985 (33)||Jul 1, 2011||30.06.2020||£110,000.00|
|Diogo Dalot Right-Back||Mar 18, 1999 (20)||Jul 1, 2018||30.06.2023||£50,000.00|
|Matteo Darmian Right-Back||Dec 2, 1989 (29)||Jul 11, 2015||30.06.2020||£60,000.00|
|Antonio Valencia Right-Back||Aug 4, 1985 (33)||Jul 1, 2009||30.06.2019||£100,000.00|
|Nemanja Matic Defensive Midfield||Aug 1, 1988 (30)||Jul 31, 2017||30.06.2020||£120,000.00|
|Paul Pogba Central Midfield||Mar 15, 1993 (26)||Aug 9, 2016||30.06.2021||£290,000.00|
|Fred Central Midfield||Mar 5, 1993 (26)||Jul 1, 2018||30.06.2023||£120,000.00|
|Ander Herrera Central Midfield||Aug 14, 1989 (29)||Jul 1, 2014||30.06.2019||£75,000.00|
|Scott McTominay Central Midfield||Dec 8, 1996 (22)||Jul 1, 2017||30.06.2023||£30,000.00|
|Juan Mata Attacking Midfield||Apr 28, 1988 (31)||Jan 24, 2014||30.06.2019||£140,000.00|
|Andreas Pereira Attacking Midfield||Jan 1, 1996 (23)||Jul 1, 2015||30.06.2019||£30,000.00|
|Anthony Martial Left-Winger||Dec 5, 1995 (23)||Sep 1, 2015||30.06.2024||£250,000.00|
|Alexis Sánchez Left-Winger||Dec 19, 1988 (30)||Jan 22, 2018||30.06.2022||£350,000.00|
|Jesse Lingard Right Winger||Dec 15, 1992 (26)||Jul 1, 2012||30.06.2021||£100,000.00|
|Romelu Lukaku Centre-Forward||May 13, 1993 (25)||Jul 10, 2017||30.06.2022||£200,000.00|
|Marcus Rashford Centre-Forward||Oct 31, 1997 (21)||Jan 1, 2016||30.06.2020||£75,000.00|
The biggest issue that United currently have is a weekly wage bill of more than £3 million which considering that they are likely to miss out on the Champions League will be a crippling factor going forward.
One of the biggest contributors to the high wage bill is Alexis Sanchez who accounts for more than 10% of the wage bill. To put his wages into perspective, the combined weekly wages of Scott Mctominay, Andreas Perriera, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford do no equate to Sanchez’s ludicrous £350,000.00.
Who gets sold?
The first step is to offload a lot of the dead weight and free up some wages and try to fund some budget for the transfer window. The following players are the ones that I would put on my selling list coupled with their wages.
- Chris Smalling – £120,000.00
- Marcos Rojo – £80,000.00
- Ashley Young – £110,000.00
- Matteo Darmian – £60,000.00
- Antonio Valencia – £100,000.00
- Ander Herrera -£75,000.00
- Juan Mata – £140,000.00
- Alexis Sanchez – £350,000.00
- Romelu Lukaku – £200,000.00
In total, these nine players equate for £1,235,00 a week and 40% of the entire wage bill in the squad of 25. Eric Bailly is another candidate whose time looked to be at an end but a recent medial ligament problem in his knee that has ruled him out of the remainder of the season and the Afcon might make it difficult to offload him.
Jones and Smalling are two players that United fans have been calling for to be sold although considering that Darmian and Rojo are definites alongside the potential issue with Bailly, at least one of these players will need to be retained and in that circumstance, I would opt for Jones who is three years younger and in my opinion a better player.
Valencia has long been out of favour and looks to have even said his goodbye’s to the United faithful on social media through the same platform that sparked the beginning of his demise.
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Young’s stats this season are telling of a player who was once one of the better-attacking wingers in the Premier League but is now a poor replacement for United’s long-standing right-back problems.
Herrera is an unfortunate loss but since a run in form saw the midfielder linked to PSG, Herrera has said to be demanding a new contract of £200,000.00 which is money that could be spent on a better player. He has lost a lot of the United faithful after openly admitting he does not know where his future lies.
Mata has always been a reliable and solid player that never quite worked at United because the system never afforded him the opportunity. I think he is a world-class player that would be brilliant at the likes of Barcelona or Manchester City but to have a 31-year-old on £140,000.00 a week that has started just 10 games out of Soljskaer’s 31 and doesn’t have a solid role within the squad is a waste of both the player and the clubs time.
Romelu Lukaku has been solid at United but looks a very different player to the one we saw at Everton. The striker has managed just 12 goals in 32 Premier League appearances, a regression from his 16 in 34 games last season and a stark comparison to his 25 goal return in 37 games for Everton in his last season. For whatever reason, Lukaku just hasn’t clicked at United and it is the time the club find a genuine 20+ goal a season striker.
Finally, it is essential that the club part ways with Sanchez whose ludicrous £350,000.00 base wage that can go up another £100,000.00 with bonuses has created a lot of anger and hostility throughout the club with players now demanding similar contracts.
Who gets new deals
Before the club makes any acquisitions, it is important to ensure that any player that is in the plans for next season be tied down long-term so that we do not end up with another Herrera situation where the Spanish midfielder looks set to move on free should he depart Old Trafford.
David de Gea although in a bad run of form, has been Manchester United’s best player by quite some distance in the past few seasons. It is vital for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that the shot-stopper commits to the club and a new contract would see his wages rise to between £225,000.00 and £250,000.00.
Marcus Rashford looks a shadow of the player that burst on the scene and I attribute that to a large amount of pressure placed on him given that there are very few goals coming from anywhere else. There is no doubt that Rashford has the talent to make it but needs more support in the goal scoring department so he can focus on his development. Currently on £75,000.00, a new contract should see him go up to at least £100,000.00 of Jesse Lingard or even £120,000.00,
Scott Mctominay and Andreas Perreira are two players that have stepped up this season and with age on their sides and academy products, both should be dealt with new contracts that would see their wages rise to close to £50,000.00.
Right, so this is where it gets interesting. Without Champions League football, it is going to be tough for United to bring in any big superstars which immediately saw me cross out Raphael Varanes name.
For the sake of clarity, in terms of squad composition, I have listed the incoming player as well as the place in the squad they are replacing in brackets.
Harry Maguire (Chris Smalling)
Big, affirmed and at the age where his performances will hopefully just become more consistent, Maguire would be an ideal addition to partner and compliment Lindelof. Being English would also be a big plus.
Matthijs de Ligt (Marcos Rojo)
Soon to be the most sought after centre-back in Europe, the inspirational Ajax captain is a transfer target United cannot afford to go for and with Edwin van der Sar connection at Ajax, they might have a chance. The 19-year-old has captained Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals and has a one-goal advantage to play with which could well see him captain Ajax at Madrid in the Champions League final. United are in desperate need of leadership and a centre-back and de Ligt ticks bothy os these options. Future club captain in the making.
Axel Tuanzebe – promoted (Matteo Darmian)
Time to get back to the roots of promoting the youth. Tuanzebe has enjoyed a stand-out season in the Championship for Aston Villa when injury has not kept him out. At 21-years-old, he is far from the finished product but ready to form part of the squad and having the likes of Lindelof and Maguire to mentor him will be a huge boost.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah – promoted (Antonio Valencia)
Fosu-Mensah endured a torrid time at Fulham on loan this season, but let’s be honest, they all did. Fosu-Mensah is still just 21-years-old and would not be out of place as a squad player next season.
Kieran Trippier/ Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Ashley Young)
Kieran Tripper would be the ideal replacement given that he is the finished product and has proven himself at the highest level but with other areas of the United team seemingly more in need of beefing up then Wan-Bissaka is a great option. The 21-year-old has quickly emerged as one of the most promising right-backs in the league and would be very useful in the side especially given the question marks over Dalot’s best position.
Adrien Rabiot (Ander Herrera)
With Herrera seemingly set for PSG and the high wages they can offer him, United have the perfect chance to bargain a swap deal. Marco Verratti would be the first choice candidate no doubt, but realistically, there is every chance that Rabiot who is all but left PSG already could become a United player after Real Madrid have reportedly cooled their interest in him.
James Ward-Prowse (Juan Mata)
A very different player a compared to Mata but has the best delivery from a still ball in the Premier League and a very useful free-kick which United fans know all about.
The jury is still out about the ability of Ward-Prowse and if he would succeed at United but he if he could make the step up he would make a very useful addition to the midfield.
Jadon Sancho (Alexis Sanchez)
Sancho has been brilliant for Borussia Dortmund this season and has attracted a lot of attention. The 19-year-old made his England debut this season and I am sure Gareth South gate would be very happy to see him playing in the Premier League. United might not have Champions League football, but they can definitely attract Sancho with an improvement on his weekly wages.
Mauro Icardi (Romelu Lukaku)
A figure of controversy within the Seria A. Icardi has fallen out of favour with Inter Milan’s fans after refusing to play after being stripped of his captaincy due to contract negotiation struggles. He is widely disliked across the league after his affair with now wide Wanda whose ex-husband is Icardi’s former Sampdoria teammate Maxi López.
Although this might sound or doom and gloom, Icardi’s stats are tremendous and has been described as a brilliant on-field leader hence his captaincy with Inter Milan in the first place. In what has been a relatively poor season for Icardi, the striker has 16 games and five assists to his name in 31 appearances. Last season, however, Icardi was one of the most prolific strikers in Europe as he bagged 29 goals in 34 matches.
This is where it all gets interesting! The above is a lot to take in and lots of pie in the sky dreaming, but in terms of the weekly wage bill, here is how the above changes could impact on the wage bill.
|Player||Date of Birth (Age)||Current Weekly Wages||New Weekly Wages|
|David de Gea||Nov 7, 1990 (28)||£200,000.00||£250,000.00|
|Sergio Romero||Feb 22, 1987 (32)||£50,000.00||£50,000.00|
|Lee Grant||Jan 27, 1983 (36)||£20,000.00||£20,000.00|
|Victor Lindelöf||Jul 17, 1994 (24)||£120,000.00||£120,000.00|
|Eric Bailly||Apr 12, 1994 (25)||£75,000.00||£75,000.00|
|Phil Jones||Feb 21, 1992 (27)||£120,000.00||£120,000.00|
|Harry Maguire||Mar 5, 1993(26)||£80,000.00||£120,000.00|
|Axel Tuanzebe||Nov 14, 1997 (21)||£40,000.00||£40,000.00|
|Luke Shaw||Jul 12, 1995 (23)||£190,000.00||£190,000.00|
|Timothy Fosu-Mensah||Jan 2, 1998 (21)||£50,000.00||£50,000.00|
|Diogo Dalot||Mar 18, 1999 (20)||£50,000.00||£50,000.00|
|Aaron Wan-Bissaka||Nov 26, 1997(21)||£15,000.00||£35,000.00|
|Matthijs de Ligt||Aug 12, 1999 (19)||£10,000.00||£85,000.00|
|Nemanja Matic||Aug 1, 1988 (30)||£120,000.00||£120,000.00|
|Paul Pogba||Mar 15, 1993 (26)||£290,000.00||£290,000.00|
|Fred||Mar 5, 1993 (26)||£120,000.00||£120,000.00|
|Adrien Rabiot||Apr 3, 1995 (24)||£50,000.00||£80,000.00|
|Scott McTominay||Dec 8, 1996 (22)||£30,000.00||£50,000.00|
|James Ward-Prowse||Nov 1, 1994 (24)||£45,000.00||£80,000.00|
|Andreas Pereira||Jan 1, 1996 (23)||£30,000.00||£50,000.00|
|Anthony Martial||Dec 5, 1995 (23)||£250,000.00||£250,000.00|
|Jadon Sancho||Mar 25, 2000(19)||£52,000.00||£100,000.00|
|Jesse Lingard||Dec 15, 1992 (26)||£100,000.00||£100,000.00|
|Mauro Icardi||Feb 19, 1993 (26)||£116,000.00||£175,000.00|
|Marcus Rashford||Oct 31, 1997 (21)||£75,000.00||£120,000.00|
|Average Age||24.52||Total Weekly Wages||£2,740,000.00|
As one can see, not only has the weekly wage bill been cut by 11% which works out to be an annual saving of over £4 million, but the average age has also dropped from 27 to closer to 24.
This means that a lot of the older players eating up a lot of the wages have been replaced by younger players and a team that can be built for not just Premier League contention, but Champions League.
In total there are just six signings with two youngsters being promoted into the squad. There is also space for the likes of Jesse Lingard to be offloaded with Tahith Chong or Angel Gomes coming in and Mason Greenwood can be introduced as time goes until he’s ready to lead the line.
The question of transfer fees is a whole new debate which will be covered soon so stay tuned for more!