Manchester United’s squad has undergone a significant transformation in the last 12 months after Ralf Rangnick’s honest assessment on the quality of the playing staff.
Ralf Rangnick’s tenure as Manchester United interim boss was a miserable time for all concerned.
Under his stewardship, a divided and disjointed dressing room limped to their worst-ever Premier League points tally. Fans were treated to dire football and the man in the dugout hardly cut a figure happy in his position.
But his time in the Old Trafford hotseat did help facilitate a huge transformation of the playing squad. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had assembled a bloated and ageing squad filled with high-profile players failing to live up to their billing.
Rangnick pulled no punches throughout his time at the club, culminating in an interview where he suggested United needed as many as 10 new players. “It’s embarrassing, it’s disappointing, maybe even humiliating,” he said, after being thrashed by Liverpool.
We have to accept Liverpool are six years ahead of us now. If you analyse the situation it is not difficult to analyse. For me, it is clear there will be six, seven, eight, maybe ten new players. Before you sign those players you need to be aware of how you want to play.”
He also offered a shortlist of stars he felt should be transfer targets, including Erling Haaland, Josko Gvardiol and Christopher Nkunku. But along with recommendations over incomings, he is believed to have compiled a list of players that should be sold.
In January of last year, Bild reported that Rangnick identified Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial as ‘mood killers’ within the squad. The Austrian was determined to sell the trio, feeling they had too much influence behind the scenes.
Rangick only got his wish with one of those supposed ‘troublemakers’, with Martial joining Sevilla on loan for the second half of the season. But 12 months on, and he is the only member of the three still at United.
The Red Devils wanted to keep Pogba beyond the end of his contract, but after seeing talks over a new deal stall, he left for Juventus on a free transfer. Similarly, Cavani would leave United at the end of the season, signing for Valencia.
Erik ten Hag quickly decided that Martial would be a part of his plans, particularly when Cristiano Ronaldo kicked up a fuss and demanded a move. The Frenchman assumed the starting berth up top and has been selected whenever he has been fit.
Unfortunately, that has been all too infrequent with Martial set to miss the 18th match out of a possible 31 against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday. Ten Hag insists that the 27-year-old remains an integral part of his side however, claiming United play their best football with him in the team.
“He is not constantly injured, he is playing games,” Ten Hag said. “He has to work on that. On that fact, I agree. He has to be more available and he can’t do nothing for it in that sense and sometimes it’s also bad luck.
“But sometimes you don’t know what the reason behind it is. But when he is there, he is really important for us because we play our best football when he is available. He has to be aware of that as well. So if we want to be successful, we need him First thing is, he has to be available.”