Antonio’s arrival signals bold turmoil for Manchester United | Manchester United

WMaybe you need to talk about money first. It’s the 13th most expensive transfer ever, moving between Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. It brings Manchester United spending this window to around £200m plus potential additions, and with the signings of Terrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez meaning United are responsible for around 48% of Eredivisie’s total summer transfer income.

“God decides my future,” Anthony said in an interview last week when he was still an Ajax player. But, you know, a file An offer of 86 million pounds from one of the richest clubs in the world It doesn’t hurt either.

Simple intuition warns us to be careful. All the red flags are there and right, given what we know about United, particularly United in the transfer market, and especially United in the transfer market in the last week out the window after a poor start to the season. Feeling of urgency and panic. The fee is grossly exaggerated for a 22-year-old striker who has not scored more than nine league goals in a single season. The fact that it was recognized not by a thorough empirical analysis and exploratory process but because the new manager knows it from Ajax.

Anthony’s transfer mechanisms are emblematic of the many dysfunctions United suffer from. However, the player himself: Well, that has a strange meaning. Anthony could go straight into United’s squad for Sunday’s game against Arsenal, ironically joining a club very different from the one that revived their efforts to sign him two weeks ago. Three consecutive wins have brought a fresh look at Erik ten Hag’s project, and 1-0 win over Leicester Thursday night was perhaps the most revealing indication yet that something interesting was brewing.

The biggest factor was how United moved in possession of the ball. Christian Eriksen fell so deep that he sometimes played in the center of the third quarter. Full-backs Malacia and Diogo Dalot led high, but not on the wings. Instead, they took on more central positions, closer to where the number 8 would work. It’s a trick Pep Guardiola has often sought to propagate, and it serves a dual purpose. First, if you lose possession, you are in a better position to thwart a potential counterattack. Second, it gives your wings more room to roam and attack. And this is probably where Anthony comes in.

Line up Manchester United
Preferred line-up for Manchester United in 2021-22 (left) and 2022-23 (right) based on the start of the league. Players on both sides are bold.

The expectation is that left footer Anthony will enter the right, the center of a long-running problem for Manchester United. dribble quickly, cut inside for a cross or shot, press hard and”grenta“: An Italian term Tin Hag likes to use for players who have the audacity, courage and the will to fight and win at any cost. In the meantime, Jadon Sancho will move to the left. Marcus Rashford could also work there, or challenge Anthony Martial in the center of attack. Bruno Fernandes could sit behind all three. The early ones, although in the long run may have Ten Hag designs to rehabilitate Donny van de Beek’s career. Hang on. Did we miss anyone?

Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo has found himself on the bench since the Brentford defeat and Ten Hag intends to build a team without him. Photo: James Williamson/AMA/Getty Images

Ah yes. Having tried and failed to leave the club, Ronaldo has found himself on the bench since the Brentford match. (It’s also worth remembering that he lost a baby five months ago, and has every excuse to get distracted.) However, Anthony’s arrival is perhaps the clearest indication yet that Ten Hag intends to build a team without him: fast, mobile, unpredictable, and with multiple threats. From multiple angles.

That in itself is a quietly revolutionary development: the club’s star striker struck a year ago after a season in which he scored 18 league goals. It is a measure of the observed disturbance that occurred only in the summer period.

It was United’s first choice from last season, based on most of the league’s start. de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, and Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Greenwood, Fernandez, Sancho; Ronaldo. Only four are still on the side. The defense has been completely replaced. Scott McTominay will soon make way for Casemiro. David de Gea will almost certainly be replaced as soon as a suitable replacement becomes available. Which leaves only Sancho and Fernandez. “I wanted to replace the entire team,” Tin Hag grumbled afterwards Meltdown 4-0 at Brentford. Well, I’m almost there.

This was a process that took Alex Ferguson years rather than months to implement, as he searched not just for winning talent but for winning characters, players who would fight for each other, and players who could play according to some plan. What Ten Hag is trying here – and that seems exaggerated – is one of the most daring acts of major surgery seen in one of Europe’s top clubs in such a short period of time.

There is no guarantee that it will work. The time for judgment is out of reach. All of United’s last three victories have come against teams they are guaranteed to compete against.

It remains to be seen how they will deal with teams that are deeply in front of them, with European League football grinding down, how long marginal players will remain on the sidelines without making a fuss, how long they can keep throwing good money after bad. It’s an ambitious plan. It’s a flawed plan. It may be a plan doomed to fail. But it is, at least, a plan.

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