Seven Man Utd transfers Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants answers for as trio set for January exits
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is yet to be officially announced as Manchester United’s newest investor, but the billionaire is already calling the shots behind the scenes in preparation for his highly-anticipated arrival. The INEOS owner is set to acquire a 25 per cent minority stake in the club from the Glazer family, equating to a £1.4billion purchase, with the deal expected to be ratified next week. Most would agree that gives Ratcliffe some authority in having his say in decisions concerning the club’s future, and he has wasted no time in making his thoughts clear on what needs to change. Express Sport looks at five areas where his influence has been evident so far…
Revamping Old Trafford
Considering the cost of knocking down Old Trafford and rebuilding it brick by brick could cost over £1.5bn, it is little surprise Ratcliffe would rather explore the cheaper option of revamping the UK’s biggest club arena.
With a capacity of 74,310 and its intimidating stands creating a claustrophobic effect for visiting teams, the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ can often prove to be a nightmare visit for some of their opposition. But more recently, it has become apparent how United have been left behind by Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham in improving their facilities.
A club that prides itself on being one of the biggest in the world needs an arena that is equipped for the needs of the 21st Century. But Ratcliffe clearly believes the approach taken by Real Madrid and Barcelona, improving their current home, is a more attractive proposition than simply constructing a new one.
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Ten Hag’s future
Erik ten Hag has faced intense scrutiny over his position, but with Ratcliffe in his corner, the 53-year-old’s job looks safe for now. The former Ajax coach has been under pressure following a poor run of nine defeats in their opening 18 games, while their Champions League hopes hang by a thread. Ratcliffe, however, clearly sees him as the man to deliver success in the long-term.
That view is a lot easier to justify now that United have won four out of their last five games – the best run of any club in the top-flight. But it is also simple to gloss over the fact that three of the Red Devils’ victories in that run came against Fulham, Sheffield United and Luton – and the one-goal margin in all of those games is actually an underachievement compared to their fans’ expectations of them.
Either way, with no clear candidates ready to take over and Ten Hag still winning games, Ratcliffe’s say in the matter should see him protected.
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Ending Sancho exile
Speculation is rife that Jadon Sancho will seal a loan move away from the club in January after falling out with Ten Hag. Ratcliffe is keen for a resolution, though, and he will attempt to persuade the boss to make amends with the exiled winger.
The fact United spent £73m on the England international means that loaning him out for next to nothing is not an advisable business strategy – and Ratcliffe knows Sancho can be an asset to United, with Antony and Marcus Rashford both struggling.
Sancho’s exile has vastly reduced his transfer value, and with interest from Saudi Pro League clubs as well as Juventus, Ratcliffe is aware that his value is depreciating. Making up with Ten Hag will at least bring him back into the fold, although it may not stop him leaving in the coming months.
Scouting and recruitment personnel
Part of Ratcliffe’s agreement with the Glazers is for him to take full control of the club’s football operations when it all goes through and that is likely to include major personnel changes.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Ratcliffe and Joel Glazer have held ‘extensive talks’ in recent weeks. The discussions are said to have been done via video calls with the report claiming Ratcliffe has indicated that he wants to make ‘personnel changes’.
It’s been suggested that Ratcliffe’s first port of call will be to bring in a sporting director at United, as well as bringing in new members for their scouting and recruitment team.
Arnold’s departure, Murtough next?
Chief executive Richard Arnold is stepping down at the end of 2024 on his own accord, which shows how much influence Ratcliffe is going to have in running things.
Having two men fighting for power at the top would be counter-intuitive for the club, and Ratcliffe seems to have convinced the Glazers they would be better off served with him controlling football operations rather than Arnold, who has been with the club since 2007.
Furthermore, his apparent concerns over how the club has been run, including the £1.4m spent on transfers since Sir Alex Ferguson left, means that transfer chief John Murtough could be next out the door after blowing £400m on signings such as Antony, Rasmus Hojlund and Mason Mount, who do not have a single goal between them in the Premier League this season.
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