Now it’s not as if this is a poor club, not by any stretch of the imagination. Yet no signings were made by Manchester United throughout the January 2022 transfer window, despite widespread gossip and speculation there would be new arrivals, having brought in just three notable first team additions during the previous summer.
Admittedly, those three signings involved big-name blockbuster deals for key players, beginning with Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane, then concluding with the surprise return of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar coming back to Old Trafford genuinely animated Red Devils fans around the globe, which in turn led to incredibly high and perhaps completely unrealistic expectations of immediate success.
Nevertheless, once a promising start to the 2021-22 campaign briefly came and went, results began to turn for the worse and by the end of November, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired as manager after a humiliating run of results. As is often the case in such situations, the team responded and results began to improve, once the ‘gegenpressing’ godfather of German football had arrived, although it now seems clear that Ralf Rangnick was only going to be a temporary fix.
Rangnick was handed the job title of “interim head coach” at Manchester United, after all, regardless of there apparently being a long-term appointment in mind on his part, with the vastly experienced 63-year-old set to step upstairs at the end of the season. His role from that point will be one of consultancy, even if the specifics of his position aren’t yet entirely clear. In the meantime, Ralf is essentially keeping the bench warm for the next managerial incumbent.
Even with this complicated situation in mind, there was a growing sense that some level of momentum could be built by the German coach, given the minimum target for this behemoth of a club is to finish inside the top four. This led to a firm belief that rather than delay proceedings, having dispensed with Ole at the wheel, the club might begin the inevitable rebuild with Ralf at the reins.
Cristiano Ronaldo ran straight off the pitch at the final whistle of Man Utd's draw with Burnley 😬 pic.twitter.com/vnsYvYakmb— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 8, 2022
Fans waited anxiously for news of bids, as numerous interesting targets were linked, as the final frantic day of the transfer window arrived, then closed without any new signings. Meanwhile, the initial impetus of the interim head coach appears to have dissipated, as Manchester United was duly eliminated from the FA Cup by Championship side Middlesbrough, then held to a draw by Premier League basement side Burnley.
For those of us who enjoy wagering on the outcome of games, searching for the right bookmakers and options can be quite arduous, although we can save time. Arabian Betting has compiled a complete guide to the best sites for betting on football, covering everything from where to find great value odds and lucrative offers, to step-by-step advice on all the most popular betting markets. But even with all that information at our disposal, many of the leading bookies are dubious about the immediate future at Manchester United.
Indeed, the only thing that is certain right now is the level of uncertainty. According to many of the top online bookmakers, Manchester United is at roughly even odds with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, amongst the teams competing to finish in the fourth position, along with West Ham United at slightly longer odds. There are some who even believe the 2021-22 season might be a lost cause for the Red Devils, as they look to the horizon of next season instead.
Ralf Rangnick: “If Man United have not won the title in the last 10 years, there must be some good reasons for that”. 🔴 #MUFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 7, 2022
“Everybody on the inside of the club would be happy if we finish fourth at the end of the season – and me too”. @utdreport pic.twitter.com/eLimJjPwen
However, we are still talking about one of the biggest and wealthiest football clubs in the world, along with news of changes in the boardroom, since the much-maligned Ed Woodward left and was replaced as CEO by Richard Arnold. The new incumbent and representative of the Glazer family appears to have a different outlook, apparently willing to leave footballing matters to those who know precisely what they’re doing, rather than dabble in discussions and player negotiations like his predecessor.
First on the agenda is the appointment of a permanent new head coach, amidst a casting list of top names including Mauricio Pochettino as the bookies favourite, followed Brendan Rodgers and Erik Ten Hag as darlings of the oddsmakers. Only after that role is filled will the true rebuild begin in earnest, amidst the realisation and promise that if Manchester United are to genuinely challenge for titles again, they will inevitably need to pull out the stops and spend big.
Looking ahead and even in the wake of a disappointing lack of January moves, that actually bodes quite well and could be indicative of much larger plans, ambitions which might finally rouse this giant of English football from a slumber that has lasted far too long. At least, this is most certainly what fans of Manchester United are hoping will happen, conscious that spending lots of money is one thing, but doing so wisely is another matter entirely.