In pictures: Man Utd v Chelsea
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With Manchester United extremely unlikely to finish in the top four this season, the club have quickly turned their attention to which European competition they will be playing in next season. They currently occupy sixth-place in the Premier League and therefore would qualify for the Europa League, though dropping down just one spot will see them playing in the European Conference League.
Ever since his appointment in November, Ralf Rangnick has struggled to get the very best out of the Red Devils team. There have been questions about the tactics that the German has attempted to implement at Old Trafford, whilst doubts over the mentality of the United team have also been raised.
However, newly-appointed manager Erik ten Hag is hoping that those issues can be brushed to the side until the end of the season. With just three games left of the season, Sunday Mirror report that the Dutch boss is ‘praying’ that the club can avoid finishing in the European Conference League places.
The 52-year-old believes that he can guide the club through the Europa League in his first season in charge, which in turn means that United will automatically book their spot in the Champions League for the following campaign. However, the current Ajax manager recognises that the European Conference League is a more complicated task and he would rather have more time to rebuild the club.
Ten Hag is expected to spend big in the summer in order to revamp his squad, especially with so many players departing at the end of the campaign when their contracts expire. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani are amongst those stars definitely expiring – whilst Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Phil Jones are reportedly expected to be sold by the new manager.
With that, United will need reinforcements. Rangnick was not able to sign any players in the January transfer window because the higher powers at the club wanted to ensure that there was a significant summer transfer budget available.
With Cristiano Ronaldo set to be the only striker at the club upon Ten Hag’s arrival, signing a no.9 is set to be at the very top of Ten Hag’s shopping list. Tottenham forward Harry Kane has been linked with a move to the Theatre of Dreams, whilst exciting Benfica prospect Darwin Nunez is reportedly of interest too – though United will face stiff competition for the Uruguayan given his good form in Portugal.
Signing a central midfielder is also a priority due to Pogba’s departure and the high likelihood that Nemanja Matic will be sold. Though it may also give Donny van de Beek to finally make his mark for United having struggled to become a regular inclusion under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Rangnick – though he has not made the greatest impression at Everton since moving to Goodison Park on loan in January.
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