Manchester United’s latest defeat has seen their players come in for major criticism as the club prepares for a shake-up in the summer with their transfer activity key
Manchester United have found themselves, once more, under the spotlight following the manner of their derby day defeat.
The Red Devils were outclassed, out thought and out run by their rivals as Manchester City won 4-1.
Gulfs in how the two clubs are run, from top to bottom, are on the agenda once more as United’s unsettled hierarchy look enviously at a City side reaping the rewards of a clear vision.
A big part of that has been recruitment with Pep Guardiola enjoying a star-studded squad from which to pick.
United meanwhile, for all their big names, seem to lurch from one idea to another – all of them motivated by short-term thinking.
Much of their transfer activity has been based on unique thinking by several different managers who attempted to employ differing systems and ideas.
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That has left Ralf Rangnick with a group assembled across different tenures with an evident lack of cohesiveness.
City meanwhile bought the likes of Kevin De Bruyne before Guardiola even arrived, but knew the two would compliment each other.
United could be set for a summer clear out as their marquee names cop major criticism and it could’ve been different had they pursued different routes at the time.
We take a look at several transfers who have not lived up to the billing and what could’ve been.
The most expensive centre-half in the history of football.
When he was signed from Leicester City in 2019, admittedly, it looked a good move and they beat City to the player’s signature.
However a host of underwhelming performances and a fast track route to the captain’s armband have plagued his time at Old Trafford.
Kalidou Koulibaly was among those United were also considering when they eventually signed Maguire.
The Napoli defender has long been linked with a move away from the Italian side, but has remained. Jerome Boateng, then at Bayern Munich, could’ve also been signed for a cut-price fee as his contract winded down.
Ruben Dias, now at City, was also seen as a junior target when at Benfica.
The full-back was signed after an impressive season at Porto, but was recruited at a time when United were struggling under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It had a whiff of ‘panic buy’ about it and the Brazilian has never been able to properly nail down a regular role with Luke Shaw preferred on the left.
Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico was seen as a potential target before United went out and bought Telles.
The Argentine is still at the Dutch outfit and working with Erik ten Hag, who is among the favourites to take charge at Old Trafford in the summer.
The Welshman arrived in the same summer as Maguire when Solskjaer was able to recruit players for the first time.
A quick start petered out and James’ form and squad role eventually saw United move him on and he joined Leeds in the summer for a profit.
James moved from Swansea at a time when the club were increasingly linked with Jadon Sancho. They eventually got their man at the start of this season.
However, had the winger had two years to settle in Manchester just how much further would he be in his development? Instead the club opted to sign James, who never became a regular.
The £50m right-back was added from Crystal Palace but has copped more criticism than most this season.
So much so that interim boss Ralf Rangnick has come in and often picked Diogo Dalot ahead of the Englishman, leaving his future in doubt.
Wan-Bissaka’s ability going forward is seen as an issue despite how impressive his one-on-one defending is.
United opted to sign the Eagles academy graduate ahead of Norwich City’s Max Aarons, for whom they had an opening bid rejected by the Canaries.
Aarons remains at Carrow Road with Bayern Munich admirers.
Donny van de Beek
One day we might found out who it was who signed the Dutchman. If it was Solskjaer then questions will long be asked as to why Van de Beek found minutes so hard to come by.
He has now headed out on loan to Everton and may eventually seek a permanent move away from Manchester.
United secured the former Ajax man’s services for £40m but were also heavily linked with Declan Rice at West Ham.
The Englishman’s stoke has continued to rise and he may yet be the subject of a bid from the Red Devils.
As has been the case for years though, United have signed players long after they could’ve had they acted with more conviction.