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Man Utd flops fighting for futures under Ratcliffe – so who will be axed?

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IF the Crystal Palace game last night, and indeed the entire season, revealed one thing more than any other, it is that Ralf Rangnick was right.

Back in April 2022, the then Manchester United interim boss warned the club it “needs open heart surgery” to return to its glory days.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos may finally give Man Utd the 'open-heart surgery' it needs

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos may finally give Man Utd the ‘open-heart surgery’ it needsCredit: Getty
Only three players, Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo are said to be untouchable

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Only three players, Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo are said to be untouchableCredit: EPA
Some players have serious question marks over their futures at the club
Some players have serious question marks over their futures at the clubCredit: Getty

Four transfer windows have passed since then, with 22 senior players leaving the club permanently.

However, more misguided transfers, many of which are best summarised as either showing no long-term planning or handing too much power to the manager, have once again left the Red Devils with a huge rebuilding task.

There is finally some faith that such a task could be handled with appropriate due diligence under new minority owners Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, who have complete sporting control of the club after buying a 27.7 per cent stake in the club.

Now sitting in eighth Man Utd are on track for their worst-ever Premier League season after a game that Erik ten Hag described as his worst-ever defeat, so the job could not be more difficult.

Reports suggest all but three – Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund – of the current squad are up for grabs providing there is sufficient interest.

However, as SunSport’s Phil Thomas puts it: “Who would want them?” Below we take a look at each player in the senior team and whether Ratcliffe and co should show leniency or swing the axe.

Andre Onana – STAY

After a dodgy start at Old Trafford Andre Onana has proven to be one of the more reliable members of the Man Utd squad this season.

A restless defence in front of him has seen only two goalkeepers face more shots, while none have made more saves than him. Few are better with their feet as well, and getting a stable team should work wonders for Man Utd.

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Altay Bayindir – GO

Reports in February suggested Altay Bayindir was unhappy with his bit part role at Man Utd amid interest from Turkish giants Galatasaray.

He was a relatively cheap purchase but if there is sufficient interest in him and a deal can be made which would yield some profit for the books then a sale may be the best option for all parties.

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Tom Heaton – STAY

Veteran goalkeeper Tom Heaton is a reliable back up and is on a small wage at the club. So long as he is happy being a back up it should be of no consequence to keep him.

His character and experience can help nurture a younger goalkeeper – such as Under-18 League winner Tom Myles or Radek Vitek when he returns from loan as well.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – GO

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has never managed to make the right-back position his own for one reason or another, and is certainly no longer the clubs starter there following Diogo Dalot‘s rise this season.

He has featured at left-back on a number of occasions this season but has appeared to be a fish out of water in all but a few games. With his contract up in 2025 it makes sense to cash in now.

Diogo Dalot – STAY

Diogo Dalot is in with a shout for Man Utd's Player of the Season

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Diogo Dalot is in with a shout for Man Utd’s Player of the SeasonCredit: AP

Overall Diogo Dalot – who came 16th in the Football Writers Association votes for Football of the Year – has been one of Man Utd’s most consistent performers this season, if such a thing was believable given the state of the team.

While a full-back will be needed, there are more pressing concerns for the club to worry about, particularly when there are talented defenders such as Harry Amass waiting in the academy.

Raphael Varane – GO

Raphael Varane managed to get himself back into the starting xi after a rough patch of form before injury saw him sidelined again.

It wasn’t for his injury record there would be a strong shout to keep him for another year, but Ineos can ill afford passengers in the team if they are to perform the open-heart surgery the club needs.

Harry Maguire – GO

Harry Maguire does not match the profile of centre-back Man Utd may look to bring in

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Harry Maguire does not match the profile of centre-back Man Utd may look to bring inCredit: EPA

Another star who has worked his way back into the starting XI this season, Harry Maguire has showed he has the right character to be at Man Utd.

Overall ability and desired profile are another matter however. His lack of pace has always been at odds with the high line Man Utd want to play, while on the ball he has often not been good enough to play out.

Lisandro Martinez – STAY

What could be if he was actually fit and healthy. Having just one left-footed player would do wonders in helping Man Utd build up, and Lisandro Martinez is second to none in that regard.

He needs a long-term defensive partner on the right side – possibly Jean-Clair Todibo based on reports – and to cut out the injuries which have plagued him this season, but is immediate future at the club should be safe.

Jonny Evans – GO

Jonny Evans has shown his age a number of times this season

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Jonny Evans has shown his age a number of times this seasonCredit: Getty

Veteran campaigner Jonny Evans could easily be on the stay list if he was only going to be a bit part player, but we have opted to move him on considering his age.

He has generally been a steady player for the team this season but has shown his advanced years at times, such as in last nights game against Crystal Palace when Jean-Philippe Mateta ran him ragged.

Victor Lindelof – GO

Like Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof has been reliable if not unremarkable in his Man Utd career.

He also has one year left on his contract so should be moved on if a decent transfer fee can be got for him. That being said it would not be the worst move in the world to keep him for another year.

Willy Kambwala – STAY

Like Evans, Willy Kambwala has stepped into the first team when needed and generally been solid.

He should be given the opportunity to mature for a few years behind a senior CB pairing before stepping into the first team as a starter or being moved on.

Luke Shaw – GO

Despite his ability, Luke Shaw's injury record is far from the best and it may be time to cash in

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Despite his ability, Luke Shaw’s injury record is far from the best and it may be time to cash inCredit: Getty

One of the Premier League’s best left-backs when fit, Luke Shaw has been a good servant when available. But alas that has been his achilles heel once again this season.

Reports suggest Man Utd will consider a new left-back given their crisis in the area this season, and as rare as a player of Shaw’s quality is, there are many more who are simply available more.

Tyrell Malacia – STAY

Tyrell Malacia was decent enough to earn some merit in his first season at Man Utd before injury ended his season and inadvertently led to his second season being a write off.

Hopefully he can return to full fitness over the summer and be an option for whatever manager is in charge.

Sofyan Amrabat – GO

Sofyan Amrabat looked like a world beater at the Qatar World Cup with Morocco. How much of a faux pas would it have been to sign him permanently?

After an underwhelming season in England, Amrabat’s loan spell will almost certainly not be made permanent, and nor should it based on the displays of this season.

Casemiro – GO

Casemiro looked out of his depth against Crystal Palace last night

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Casemiro looked out of his depth against Crystal Palace last nightCredit: Getty

Casemiro‘s disastrous performance against Crystal Palace was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of there being any doubt as to whether he was still up to the standard to play for Man Utd.

Needlessly diving into challenges, roaming miles from his position and giving away the ball time and time again, if a club is willing to buy the Brazilian then Man Utd should snatch their hand off.

Christian Eriksen – GO

Brought in on a free transfer, Christian Eriksen would represent pure profit from a Financial Fair Play perspective so making a sale to improve Man Utd’s position on that front mean this is an easy one.

The former Tottenham playmaker proved a useful asset and Ineos should look to bring in another player with similar traits, but frankly his legs have looked gone towards the end of this season.

Kobbie Mainoo – STAY

Kobbie Mainoo is young and raw but is showing promise as a Man Utd midfielder of the future

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Kobbie Mainoo is young and raw but is showing promise as a Man Utd midfielder of the futureCredit: Getty

The first of the so-called untouchables, Mainoo has been a rare shining glimmer of hope in the Red Devils midfield this season.

He is far from ready to lead the team, but with a proper structure around him he can be moulded into a player who could dominate the Old Trafford engine for more than ten years.

Mason Mount – STAY

Despite flattering to deceive earlier this season, Mason Mount has seen his best season at Old Trafford riddled by injury.

He has similar qualities to Eriksen with an added engine to boot, he is another star who can be given the benefit of the doubt until summer 2025 at least.

Scott McTominay – STAY

Scott McTominay has proven himself to be a brilliant plan B off the bench this season, and that is exactly why Ineos should look to keep him for next season.

His goals have been vital to Man Utd and as a result he should be kept around and used as a superb super sub rather than being given the nod to start week in week out.

Bruno Fernandes – STAY

Man Utd’s best player since his arrival just over four years ago, Bruno Fernandes remains second-to-none when it comes to creating chances.

He is the club captain and his tenacity was sorely missed against Crystal Palace. He should have a spot in the team guaranteed for the next few years at the very least.

Antony – GO

Man Utd should cut their losses on stars such as Antony, who have underwhelmed at the club

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Man Utd should cut their losses on stars such as Antony, who have underwhelmed at the clubCredit: Getty

At £85million, there’s a definite case to argue that Antony may be the worst pound-for-pound signing in Premier League history.

Too often games pass him by, and when he is involved he is often not good enough. The price tag of a player originally marked at £25m doesn’t help, and despite some memorable moments he simply isn’t Man Utd quality.

Anthony Martial – GO

Out of contract in the summerAnthony Martial has been a drain on club resources in the last couple of seasons.

He has chipped in with the odd goal and his injury record means some sympathy can be handed to him, but ultimately Martial needs to be let go this summer.

Marcus Rashford – STAY

As easy as it would be to say Marcus Rashford should leave the club this summer, it is difficult to look at the market and find many players capable of scoring 30 goals a season.

There are more pressing issues in the squad than at left wing, and he should be given the benefit of the doubt that he can good again next season unless a very strong bid comes to prompt a sale.

We have tipped 12 players to leave Man Utd this summer
We have tipped 12 players to leave Man Utd this summer

Alejandro Garnacho – STAY

Another third of the untouchables trio, Garnacho has made the right-wing his own since coming into it and may even be the long-term solution there despite his preference to play on the left, where he is less effective.

He remains a raw talent but his partnership with Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund has proven to be electric and one that can only get better with time.

Rasmus Hojlund – STAY

After a slow burner in his first Man Utd season, Hojlund has often been starved of supply which has led to him being unable to get the goals his movement and unselfish play often merits.

He needs a deputy to share the load of minutes with too, but Hojlund is an obvious keep and rightly the third star of the untouchables.

Amad Diallo – STAY

In the fleeting moments he has been on the pitch for Man Utd this season, Amad Diallo has looked dangerous and exciting.

He was a big investment from Atalanta and should be given a chance to flourish with some proper chances in the first team across a whole season, possibly rotating with Garnacho on the right side.

Pundits verdict on Ten Hag’s future

Where do the pundits stand on Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United future

Michael Owen – Has to go

“He cannot, simply cannot, manage this team next season. He’s not good enough.”

Teddy Sheringham – Might stay if he wins Cup but should go

“If Utd win the FA Cup, he could stay. But, for me, changes are needed and Manchester United need to get it done sooner than later.”

Jamie Carragher – Sacked

“I don’t see how Erik ten Hag stays. It’s just performance after performance.”

Gary Neville – Stay if he wins the FA Cup

“To sack a manager who’s won two trophies in his first two seasons at the club I think would be extreme.”

Louis Saha – On the fence

“I don’t see it as clearly but they need changes from the players but they need changes from him as well.”

Alan Shearer – Sacked

“I believe the future of the Man Utd manager is already determined. Even if they win the FA Cup I think he’s gone.”

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