Ten Hag previews Man Utd’s clash with Copenhagen
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to ring the changes in Manchester United’s sporting department when he completes a £1.4billion deal to buy 25 per cent of the club. And INEOS’ track record at Nice suggests that Erik ten Hag can expect to be heavily backed if the Glazer family allow Sir Jim to fund player recruitment at Old Trafford.
In April 2022, United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick famously claimed that the club needed to sign up to 10 new players just to start a rebuild under Ten Hag near the end of a disastrous season.
“There will be a rebuild for sure, but that does not help us when we still have five games to play,” said Rangnick, following a 4-0 thrashing against Liverpool at Anfield.
“If you analyse the situation, it is not difficult to analyse. For me, it is clear there will be six, seven, eight, maybe 10 new players. Before you sign those players, you need to be aware of how you want to play.”
Sir Jim and INEOS will likely inherit total sporting control as part of their deal for a minority stake by next summer at the latest.
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By then, Ten Hag will almost certainly be aware of the style of play he wants to engrain in his team for the long term.
The Dutchman has spent heavily under the Glazers’ rule in his first two summer transfer windows, completing 10 permanent transfers worth around £400m since his arrival last year.
And while Nice operate at an entirely different level – buying low and selling high – the Ligue 1 club’s recruitment drive under INEOS indicates that Sir Jim isn’t shy of sanctioning a high volume of signings.
Nice have completed 57 transfers since INEOS bought the club in the summer of 2019, recruiting 15 players last season alone.
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“INEOS does a lot of acquisitions,” Bob Ratcliffe, Sir Jim’s younger brother, told The Guardian in 2020 when he served as Nice’s chief executive.
Sir Jim and his INEOS team are set to undergo a review of United’s football operations but have already reportedly lined up Paul Mitchell as a potential candidate to become the club’s sporting director.
That would leave John Murtough out of a job, and chief executive Richard Arnold may also be among the staff fearing for their futures.
Sir Jim has publicly and privately criticised United’s wasteful expenditure on below-par players since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement.
That will be one of a few prominent issues he will work to fix to achieve his latest slice of sporting success.
Bob Ratcliffe’s 2020 comments back that up: “The talent is in many ways the preparedness to walk away from a deal if you want to secure value.”
United haven’t done that nearly enough, as recently as this summer when they spent over the odds for Rasmus Hojlund and, arguably, Mason Mount, who had one year left on his Chelsea contract.
But two years after Rangnick’s memorable comments, Sir Jim could helm a recruitment strategy focusing on efficiency in quantity over a craving for blockbuster moves.
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