Manchester United are walking on a “tightrope”, with Erik ten Hag’s influence over transfer the policy leaving the club vulnerable in the market, according to Jason Burt. The club have invested in the manager’s former player, Lisandro Martinez, in addition to avidly pursuing world-class Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong at Barcelona.
Erik ten Hag’s Influence Over Manchester United Transfers Has Club on “Tightrope”
How Significant Is Erik ten Hag’s Influence?
The Red Devils have had two clear types of targets in this window. The first has a clear link with Erik ten Hag. Players such as Lisandro Martinez and Frenkie De Jong have experience playing under the Dutch manager, making his pursuit of these players a clear route to continuing his style of football at Old Trafford. Some of his other targets, such as Cody Gakpo at PSV Eindhoven, are players that the manager has watched for years and now has the resources to bring under his wing.
Other transfer targets are more stereotypically “Manchester United”. The club has a history of signing players that are past their peak on higher wages than the club would hope for. Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani are two clear examples from the past, with Marko Arnautovic and Jamie Vardy the latest in the long line of ageing talents. Whilst Erik ten Hag has not taken complete control over the club’s business, his influence is clear in that the club is actively looking at players the manager wants.
What Are the Club’s Worries?
Executives mainly have worries that the club is focusing too much on unattainable targets. Interest in Frenkie De Jong at Barca has mostly been rebuked by the player, but the club continues in its pursuit. This means that the Red Devils are putting their time and attention into players that might not end up making the move. The side can’t afford to go without essential recruitment for another season, with De Jong potentially slowing down other moves such as that of Adrien Rabiot.
Transfer policy is just one aspect of the board’s biggest fear. Another is Champions League qualification. Without the Champions League, the club cannot attract the best talent. With every year that goes by without playing for the grandest prize in Europe, Manchester United lose more ground to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
Are There Past Examples at Other Clubs?
One of the most obvious examples at another club in recent history is Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United. The Whites were all in on Bielsa’s philosophy, playing with a squad of 18 senior players with support from U23 players when necessary. Then an injury crisis hit. With a dozen players out at once, the Elland Road side tussled with relegation last season. Finding the balance between recruiting for a club and recruiting for a manager is a necessity for an Old Trafford outfit that’s becoming more competitive.
Erik ten Hag on Cristiano Ronaldo and other Man Utd players leaving Old Trafford early vs Rayo: “I don’t certainly accept this. I think this is unacceptable. For everyone”, tells @viaplaysportnl. 🚨🔴 #MUFC
“We are a team and you have to stay until the end”, ten Hag says. pic.twitter.com/Ysm2G4e7Rp
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 3, 2022