Man Utd being left in the dirt by rival
It is the middle of June and already a new sense of panic is creeping in among Manchester United fans, writes Neil Custis.
They may even be going backwards if you consider the players who have left, like Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
Work is being done. But it says everything about where United are at that they were not even considered by the camps of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez before they joined City and Liverpool respectively.
The Red Devils are trying to get Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona but the midfielder clearly does not want to leave, calling the LaLiga giants his “dream club”.
United, meanwhile, do not want to bow down to a cash-strapped Barca, with the club asking for a full return on the £65.4million they paid Ajax for De Jong’s services in 2019.
Ten Hag wants to raid his former club Ajax for defender Jurrien Timber and Brazilian winger Antony, 22.
Yet Timber, 21, looks set to agree a new deal to stay at Ajax, having voiced his concerns about how much first-team football he would get — no doubt having seen Donny van de Beek’s move to Old Trafford from Amsterdam fall very flat.
The days when United clicked their fingers and players came running are long gone.