The ‘Open Heart Surgery’ needed at Man United examined

In a season that has seen many lows and maybe just two highs (Ronaldo’s goal scoring achievements and David DeGea returning to form), the team here at The Sports Buff want to weigh into a debate, that’s been brewing ever since interim manager Ralf Ragnick made, the now infamous assessment of the state of affairs at Manchester United.

This slump, it arguably is a slump that Man United are currently enduring, especially since winning the Premier League in 2013 their 20th League crown, with a squad that was past it’s sell by date, The Red Devils have not added a domestic league title since.

That means since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired after 27 successful seasons, United’s trophy cabinet has only seen an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Europa League added to it. For other sides, with the greatest respect, that wouldn’t be a terrible trophy count.

But a club that boasted it won’t make the same mistakes as Liverpool (who saw a legendary manager leave and taking time to replace and replicate his success there after ), it’s ironic that Man United are making these very same mistakes.

Sir Alex Ferguson has retired, but the ghost of Fergie still looms. The Red Devils are a lost soul, clearly. Yes, we are fans of Manchester United and no we’re not from London, but with our analytical and journalistic observations, we play Dr and look to operate on our patient, Manchester United.


So nurse, please bring the defence. The defence, it doesn’t take rocket science to work out, has been a mess. A combination of different centre backs whether that be Maguire or Varanne, One thing is for certain United have not been able to find the right balance.

If you thought the centre back so bad, full backs haven’t been much better. Luke Shaw, Alex Telles as well as Aaron Wan Bissaka and Digo Dalot have all underwhelmed.

The form of Harry Maguire has been the most alarming. United skipper Maguire, last season was superb and he was also excellent in the Euros too. The former Hull man was named in the Euros team of the tournament after all.

This season, unfortunately the 28-year old Maguire has found different ways to make costly errors. So what’s the solution, drop him or even sell him? Yes it could be, with Eric Bailly stepping in to partner Varanne and maybe United could sign Pau Torres.

As much as we like the Villareal man and were impressed by him in last season’s Europa League final, we also feel there’s a need to coach Harry Maguire into Erik Ten Haag’s system. Daley Blind, who formerly was of Manchester United of course has been a mainstay in the former Ajax boss’ team when he was in charge at the Johan Cryuff arena.

There is a for and against for either argument, the cold fact is football doesn’t have sentiments. Sentiments in regards to Maguire shouldn’t just be kept in the team purely because he is the captain or the world’s most expensive defender.

What we are adamant on is, especially in today’s era, the need for a good midfield is necessary for the defence to function. Luke Shaw has had a poor season by his standards, but like Harry Maguire he too has taken his game to a higher level in the past, there’s no reason why shouldn’t be able to do so now.

A good solid right-back is needed. Roben Goosens and Demzel Dumfries, although both at Inter as a player we rate both highly as well as Di Lorenzo of Napoli. Every player has his price, but unlike what they did with Maguire, United need to be shrewd when signing a player in this position.

Any of these three would be speculative signings, but good signings and an upgrade on the right-backs they have at the club. Max Aarons although a left-field shout somewhat is another we rate highly.

Football fans, you might be surprised for us to not have included Sergino Dest. The American who plays for Barcelona these days, we think would be better suited there, but if Ten Haag decides for a reunion and Barca being cash-strapped, then never say never.

A good defence is only good with a good midfield. Nurse, you’re needed please! We now need to operate on the midfield part of the heart.


To say that United’s midfield is in disarray is under statement of the century. Pogba, who is arguably one of the biggest stars in midfield, has been injured for large parts of the season and arguably getting his head swayed by reported bids from ‘bigger clubs’.

This diverted attention theme does appear to resonate across the attacking players contingent at The Red Devils. If reports are to be believed, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and of course Pogba are counting the seconds, minutes and days to exit the Old Trafford door.

With Matic leaving too, this part of the heart needs the most work. Nurse, please cancel my evening appointments. We suggest that Mamadou Diarra of Leipzig be signed and not Declan Rice or Wilfred Ndidi. Both Rice and Ndidi are good player but will come at a premium.

How about Youri Tielemans? The Belgian who has been superb for Leicester, is coming to the last 12 months of his deal and will no doubt be available for a cut price fee. There is of course James Ward-Prowse and Aurelien Tchouameni, but there is a but with both.

With Monaco’s Tchouameni we actually he would be brilliant, but with Real Madrid and many of Europe’s elite in the race for the young Frenchman too, it will be a hard sell, but The Reds will surely be able to make him the centre of the team.

This would help Bruno Fernandes, who I am sure is (he clearly looks it), tired from carrying Manchester United. There is of course Aboubacar Kamara of Marseille or Calvin Stengs and Teun Koopmeiners of Atalanta.

Long story short in what is a very important position in the modern day game, Man United do have options. How could we forget Ryan Gravenberch? The tall Ajax youngster has been likened to Paul Pogba, and this is something the United midfield has been crying out for.

We think Man United should sign at least two players in midfield and give the returning James Garner a chance to shine in the middle of the park. Let’s face it, Fred and Scott McTominay have been poor on the whole, the Nottingham Forest loanee won’t be worse than either of them.

Are we seeing signs of life nurse? No? Please bring me the strikers!


The fact we have to cover this point is quite something. Manchester United in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, were well stocked in this area, but now all of a sudden when talisman Ronaldo will retire within the next two seasons, United look thin on the ground.

Anthony Martial, looks certain to leave, Marcus Rashford looks like he’s been stuck on a school playground somewhere serving someone school dinners and Lingard Id dabbing his way out of the exit door.

Man U do have Sancho and Elanga, not forgetting to mention Shola Shoretire, a player who unfortunately has been on the periphery, even though The Red Devils’ goal return has been so low despite Ronaldo single handily keeping Manchester United in the hunt for any form of European football.

To remedy this, we suggest they need to sign Christopher Nkunku at all costs. The Leipzig man has shown he’s the all round package, get him before other clubs sniff around. There is of course Laturo Martinez, who is a brilliant player, but maybe a player who could be too expensive for their budget.

Jonathan David, Sebastian Haller, Paulo Dybala are other players mentioned too. In the case of the Argentine Dybala, we watched him live, and we will never forget how much he terrorised United’s defence on the day.

It would be his goal that helped Juventus leave Manchester with all three points in a Champions League group game a few seasons back. Haller, would be an interesting option and is a player Ten Haag knows well having worked with the Frenchman at FC Utrecht as well as Ajax.

Jonathan David however is a good player, but we’re not convinced that the Canadian can stay injury free, he will also command a ridiculous transfer fee, which is the reason why Victor Osmimhen is a no no.

So we suggest United should sign Haller if Ten Haag can get a system that play to the former West Ham man’s strengths and also Paulo Dybala too. Man United do have Thaith Chong to come back. The Birmingham loanee has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent whilst at St Andrews.

Although we don’t know too much about him, maybe try to give Alejandro Garnacho a go? Man United are in such depths of oblivion, things can only get better. Surely 20-time League winners Manchester United can’t go any lower?

Any signs of a healthy heart nurse? Nearly? Ok then please bring me the conclusion/loan or fringe players.

Second chances

With the new manager, old players get new beginnings. Axel Tuanzebe, Donny Van De Beek, Amad Diallo, Brandon Williams and Facundo Pellistri are those hoping to benefit from a new manager.

The quintet, play in positions where United do need to address,so before Ten Haag opts to open the cheque book, then the need to hold the horses is needed?

Andreas Perreira, I am afraid for the sake of his own career needs to move on. Nurse, any signs of a beating heart? Yes, if they follow this advice? Well, that’s a relief.

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