Thursday, July 25, 2024

Sir Jim Ratcliffe lays bare his brutal review of Man United, who ‘don’t have €100m players’, will take ‘three summers’ to fix – and are ‘handicapped’

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Manchester United‘s new part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has offered a brutal assessment of the state of the club as he heads into his first summer transfer window in command at Old Trafford.

Ratcliffe and INEOS completed a £1.3billion deal to become the new part-owner of the Old Trafford club earlier this season, where he has taken over control of the Premier League side’s football operations. 

Since his arrival there have been a number of reviews taking place as INEOS take stock of their latest acquisitions, with one notably surrounding the position of manager Erik ten Hag.

After a lengthy process, the decision was ultimately made to keep the Dutchman in charge, despite Ratcliffe holding talks personally with Thomas Tuchel in Monaco, though the side have since pledged their support for Ten Hag. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg, the new part-owner discussed a range of topics; from United being ‘handicapped’, the lack of £85million (€100m) players at Old Trafford, and the time scale for United’s resurgence.  

He insisted that the head coach is not the 'central issue' at the club

Sir Jim Ratcliffe offered a brutal assessment of the state of Manchester United in an interview

Ratcliffe suggested that it will take more than 'three summers' to turn the club back into contenders for the biggest honours

Ratcliffe suggested that it will take more than ‘three summers’ to turn the club back into contenders for the biggest honours

Ratcliffe also claimed that the squad is lacking in out and out superstars worth €100m (£85m)

Ratcliffe also claimed that the squad is lacking in out and out superstars worth €100m (£85m)

Perhaps of greatest interest to United fans, is how long Ratcliffe sees that resurgence taking – will it be a quick turnaround? Maybe closer to a decade?

Supporters may then take solace in the fact that the 71-year-old envisages a slightly swifter process than that before the club can begin to truly compete for top honours once again. 

‘There’s room for improvement everywhere we look at Manchester United, and we will improve everything,’ he said. ‘We want to be where Real Madrid is today, but it’ll take time.’

Ratcliffe added: ‘We’re sort of a bit handicapped in that sense, so I think we’ll do a fairly good job. It will take two or three summer windows to get to a better place.’ 

One of the perceived handicaps that Ratcliffe perhaps sees at the club is the make up of the backroom staff, hinting that the focus at the claim has perhaps strayed from football to economics.

‘We’ve got more accountants than we’ve got sporting people at Manchester United,’ he revealed. 

‘If you’re not careful, the Premier League is going to finish up spending more time in court than it is thinking about what’s good for the league.’ 

In the grand scheme of things, two or three summers is a fairly swift return, with Arsenal completing their own renaissance in a similar time frame under Mikel Arteta. 

Ten Hag's position at the club was under intense scrutiny before his future was confirmed

Ten Hag’s position at the club was under intense scrutiny before his future was confirmed 

The club had held talks with Thomas Tuchel about taking over after the German manager left Bayern Munich

The club had held talks with Thomas Tuchel about taking over after the German manager left Bayern Munich

Ratcliffe admitted that there is 'room for improvement' right across the board at Old Trafford

Ratcliffe admitted that there is ‘room for improvement’ right across the board at Old Trafford

However there is an argument that there are far greater issues to solve at Old Trafford than there were in north London.

While United have now backed Ten Hag publicly, and the manager is reportedly set for a new contract, it is far from an ideal situation with the whole world watching as the boss is put under intense scrutiny. 

However, Ratcliffe insisted that there are indeed other issues at hand than the position of the manager, adding that it is all about the ‘environment’ of the club. 

‘The coach isn’t the central issue at Manchester United,’ said Ratcliffe. 

‘It’s a sports club. It needs to be competitive, it needs a degree of intensity, but with a supportive side to it because you are dealing with players who are relatively young. It hasn’t had that type of environment historically.’ 

The club’s recruitment policy has come under the microscope – largely for all the wrong reasons – in the last few years, and with Ratcliffe now arriving at the helm that is only set to heighten. 

Notable big-money deals have failed to yield the fruits that they promised, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Antony, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku all costing a combined £402.5m to name just a few. 

To make things worse, Pogba left on a free, Sancho appears to be exiled from the club while Ten Hag remains, and Lukaku departed for £74m, £1m less than his £75m purchase, meaning the Red Devils are yet to make a profit on any of their big-money acquisitions. 

Antony is just one of a number of big-money signings that has failed to reap rewards at United

Antony is just one of a number of big-money signings that has failed to reap rewards at United

The 71-year-old claimed that United's problems were not all going to be fixed over one summer

The 71-year-old claimed that United’s problems were not all going to be fixed over one summer

As such, the recruitment was another sector of the club to bear the brunt of Ratcliffe’s blunt assessment, and he remains well short of confidence that the club will be able to fix their issues within a single window.

‘Manchester United doesn’t have any players that are valued at €100m or more,’ he continued, adding that one superstar ‘isn’t going to solve the problem at Manchester United.’

‘I’m not confident that we’ll solve all the problems in the first transfer window,’ he added.

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