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Man Utd’s transfer reluctance forces Ralf Rangnick to put faith in struggling star

Manchester United’s quiet January transfer window means Ralf Rangnick must depend on his current squad until the end of the season, with numerous players having left Old Trafford

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Ralf Rangnick discusses future of Jesse Lingard ahead of West Ham fixture

Ralf Rangnick was warned he took on the impossible job when he succeeded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United’s interim coach until the end of the season. But with the club’s surprising reluctance to make any signings in the January transfer window, his task has arguably become even tougher.

United’s lack of business was not for the want of trying, at least on Rangnick’s part. He held transfer meetings with his superiors, laid out his plans to secure targets and publicly told the board where they needed to strengthen, identifying Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham as his priority signings.

Instead, the German coach was rewarded by losing two useful squad players — Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek — on loan without adequate replacements coming in to replace them.

The tactician can have no real complaints with regards to those departures, after sending the message that any want-away player at the club can leave if they are not committed.






Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick did not make a single signing in January

Those comments were pointed at Martial and after a brief fallout with the Frenchman, he was given the green light to join Sevilla. Van de Beek then sealed a deadline-day move to Everton in a bid to get more first-team football.

It could have easily been three departures had Jesse Lingard’s exit not been blocked by the board, with Rangnick giving the attacker his blessing to leave on loan.

While none of those moves came as a shock, the 63-year-old was probably at least expecting to be allowed to find some players to bolster his squad — only to see United’s deadline day end in an abnormally quiet fashion.

Speculation linking Man United with Barcelona contract rebel Ousmane Dembele turned out to be nothing more than a last-ditch attempt from the Catalan giants to tout his services to get the Frenchman off the wage bill.

Yet the winger might have added something to this blunted United attack that has managed to score only 36 goals in 22 games.

For the past two transfer windows, the Red Devils’ need to sign a central midfielder has been well-documented. The fans have been crying out for a replacement for Fred, who despite some glimpses of talent many doubt to be good enough to operate next to the increasingly impressive Scott McTominay.

Have Your Say! Who should Manchester United have signed in the January transfer window? Comment below.






Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele was linked with Man Utd in January

Names such as Declan Rice, Aurelien Tchouameni, Amadou Haidara and Yves Bissouma have been thrown around at will but with no concrete offers made, the time has once again passed without a signing.

For the supporters, the situation bears some similarities with a broken record in an old jukebox that continues to play over and over. Without fixing the problem, the same issues will unfold.

It means now that if United were to suffer injuries to McTominay and Fred, only Nemanja Matic and a fitness-starved Paul Pogba would be around to deputise.

The absence of incomings suggests there is a hesitancy from the board to give Rangnick the tools he requires — a problem of their own making when handing him a temporary deal — perhaps because he will not continue in the dugout beyond the end of the season.

Now, he has to maximise the potential of his current squad to make a success of his short stint in charge, though few would argue United’s resistance to backing him in the market has made that job more difficult.

Rangnick still has a number of issues outstanding in his squad to resolve. Not only with Lingard, who is bound to be furious at the club’s decision to deny him his wish to leave on loan, but also with underperforming stars such as Jadon Sancho.

The 21-year-old has scored only one Premier League goal since his £73m move from Borussia Dortmund and his performances have only slightly improved in recent months. Questions remain as to whether Rangnick’s favoured 4-2-2-2 setup is the best formation to get the best out of him.






Jadon Sancho has scored one goal in the Premier League since his £73m move

Of course, Sancho is typically a slow starter. In the 2020-21 season, he failed to register a goal or assist for Dortmund after struggling away from the pitch. Following the winter break, he came back with a fresh outlook and went on a storming run of scoring 11 goals and assisting 15 for his team-mates.

After spending some time on the bench behind 19-year-old Anthony Elanga, Sancho is now likely to get a run in the side under Rangnick. Without new signings to inject some new life into the squad, it will be up to him to find a way to make his side click again.

The youngster can draw inspiration from how Marcus Rashford has bounced back from a tough period in front of goal to score twice in as many games, and Rangnick has backed the United No.25 to carry his impressive training performances through to matches.

“Whenever I see him train, he’s showing that he’s one of the best players in the training sessions,” Rangnick told the club’s official website back in December.






Ralf Rangnick has backed Jadon Sancho to end his Man Utd struggles

“But now it’s about transferring that to when he’s playing, and showing the same kind of level and performance on the pitch.”

Rangnick will be hoping that his words of encouragement are enough to give Sancho the kickstart he needs and repeat his form from those Bundesliga days.

Because without being granted the signings he requested and a significant improvement from Sancho, it could be a long second half of the season for the Man United manager.

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