Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick reassured fans that he fully trusts the board 24 hours after he dropped a bombshell that the board refused to buy a striker in the January window.
A day before the penultimate game of the Premier League season, Rangnick spoke about how the club was in dire straits in need of a striker, but the board failed to acknowledge his plea, which has eventually seen them miss out on a place for the next season’s Champions League football. This outraged the United fanbase further, who were already unhappy with the club’s ownership.
After getting 4-0 thrashed by Brighton in their penultimate game, when asked about how much he trusted the board to buy the right players at the right time, he said: “We have spoken since the last couple of months about what happened since the transfer window’s closure. It was not meant as criticism towards anyone.
“At that time, we had only 48 hours, so nobody knows if that would have been possible. A few things happened that were not foreseeable and predictable.
“But again, after a performance like that, I am not a person who is looking for excuses. This is just not good enough. I can only again apologise to our supporters.”
Manchester United fans were furious and wanted the board to be fired after learning Rangnick was blocked from signing a striker before the transfer window closed. The players, too, faced the wrath of the supporters after a dismal showing at the Amex stadium. It was a performance that made sure United would finish the season with their lowest points tally in the Premier League era, hitting a new low.
The boat sailed smoothly for the interim manager regarding attacking options. With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Jadon Sancho, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood all available for selection, it was more of a case for spoilt for choices.
What came about 48 hours before the January transfer window closed sent shockwaves across the nation. 20-year-old Manchester United forward Greenwood was arrested for assault and rape of a women after images and videos went online. By then, United had already moved out Martial on loan to Sevilla, Cavani returned injured from the international break and Lingard was set for a deadline day move to Newcastle United, which was later blocked.
United had an out of form Sancho, Rashford, who had come back from a shoulder injury, Lingard, who had minimal game time before that and an ever-reliable Ronaldo. They were brought to knees in the attacking department, and Rangnick’s appeal to the board to sign a striker was the only sensible step moving ahead.
But the ever-reluctant United board rejected even to discuss the manager’s appeal claiming no player on the market could help the club. Rangnick also put forward three names to the board, including Luis Diaz, who is tormenting Premier League defences in a dominant Liverpool team after his move from Porto in the January transfer window. Julian Alvarez, who later completed a switch to English champions Manchester City in the same window and Dusan Vlahovic, who at the time was at Fiorentina but moved to Juventus later and has bagged 23 goals in Serie A this season.
When the senior-most executive at the pinnacle of arguably the greatest English club is an accountant and investment banker making footballing decisions, you know something is discretely wrong with the club. No wonder United, the financial side of the club is being done marvellously with the share prices rising, and United generated more revenue (£627.1m) than any other English club last season, even after such performances on the pitch.
Since February, United have failed to beat already-relegated Watford, a struggling Burnley team fighting for survival in the Premier League, Everton, another team in the relegation battle, and an injury-plagued Leicester side. Ronaldo has bagged nine out of the last 12 goals scored by Manchester United.
Brighton manager Graham Potter was asked if he was surprised at how poor Manchester United were; he said: “There were two teams on the pitch today, and we played well. We were on the front foot, we were aggressive, and if you play well, the opponent suffers. That’s just how it is.”
Amid all the chaos at Manchester United, Rangnick has begun the reshuffle behind the scenes at Old Trafford. With vice-chairman Ed Woodward having resigned, head of corporate development Matt Judge, chief scouts Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout and director of corporate finance, Hemen Tseayo have followed suit. As we move ahead, a massive summer transfer window is staring in the face of Manchester United that could make or break the club’s fortune in the coming seasons.