- Manchester United are approaching the transfer window differently this summer
- Main shift has been on attitude and mentality since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived
- He is heavily involved in the process and they are targeting younger names
- Daniel James will be the first face but there will be plenty more in the door
Parades at the Etihad and on the streets of Liverpool. Trophies on show, tickertape flickering, thousands saluting their waving heroes.
Meanwhile, the only buses going by Old Trafford the last few weeks have been the Stagecoach 256 and 255 services, on their way from ferrying workers and shoppers from suburbs Flixton and Partington to Manchester city centre.
How are you feeling, United fans? To steal a line from Ian Brown, ‘stop the world, I’m getting off’.
(Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a summer of serious rebuilding ahead of him at Manchester United)
(The manager and his assistant Mike Phelan are heavily involved in the recruitment process)
Brown, the Reds-supporting Stone Roses front man who will be feeling the pain, also sang that the past was yours but the future’s mine, and it would appear to be that concept that United are now embracing going forwards.
A look at this summer’s transfer targets suggests that there has been a significant shift in transfer policy. It would appear that throwing millions at big name reputations who have already flourished elsewhere is no longer the key to success.
United insiders, however, refute that. They point to the arrivals over recent summers of the likes of Diogo Dalot (20), Victor Lindelof (24) and Eric Bailly (25) as evidence that they have never shied away from going for those who may be light on experience but heavy on potential.
Since Solskjaer’s arrival, the main shift has been on attitude and mentality. The Norwegian has had his say on transfer matters from day one. Now, he is heavily involved with assistant Mike Phelan.
The way things work is that United’s scouting department and analysts identify targets along with Solskjaer and Phelan. Each side has a veto, to ensure that nobody arrives at the club who is not wanted by all. The search for a director of football continues and it remains to be seen how the new man will fit into the new way of doing things.
Quietly, United believe that there is no shortage of targets keen on coming to the club as part of the rebuild. A plan exists of the areas which need strengthening which will the club will not veer away from.
Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward signs off on the financials once the decisions has been made by the others, while club lawyer Matt Judge handles the negotiations.
While there is an acceptance that moves for elder statesmen have not paid off, United will still go for a more experienced name if the price is right and if the attitude and ability match.
(Aaron Wan-Bissaka (left) and Daniel James (right) are two young targets for the club)
Solskjaer wants a fitter squad. He has gone on the record previously to express his surprise at what he inherited. Carrington insiders have told Sportsmail that the sports science department was ‘almost redundant’ under Jose Mourinho, something which has already changed.
That desire for energy can be seen in some of those United have been linked with. Forget Matthijs de Ligt – officials have long since accepted that the Ajax teen captain is off to Barcelona. But elsewhere, Crystal Palace full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka remains heavily on the radar in a position that has needed strengthening properly for years.
Wales winger Dan James, 21, will soon arrive and will inject much-needed pace, and an ability to counter which has evaded United for some time, despite Marcus Rashford’s best efforts. James is a player United feel they can develop, as is Sean Longstaff, 21, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Newcastle United.
Leicester duo James Maddison, 22, and Harry Maguire, 26, will be tough to get. The Foxes are under zero pressure to sell, although United are ready to spend big should they feel it is necessary to do so.
(At this stage, a move for Benfica whizzkid Joao Felix is unlikely for United in the summer)
Another who will take some getting is Portugal whizzkid Joao Felix. The teenager has many admirers and would be welcomed by the Stretford End. He has been watched but a move at this stage is unlikely.
While much will depend on Romelu Lukaku – and his reported move to Inter Milan — United are keen on Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastien Haller. The striker is 24 and scored 15 in 23 league starts last season.
But do not expect to see United turn into some kind of youth club. They are not turning their backs on those with more miles in the legs, if they are the right fit.
(United are keen on Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastien Haller if Romelu Lukaku leaves the club)
PSG’s Thomas Meunier, set to depart this summer is 27 and United would have no qualms in adding the Belgian to their ranks.
Much will also depend on the club’s ability to get players out of the door. Few would be upset to see as many as eight depart, including some of those who have not long since signed new contracts.
There is also an acceptance that the rebuild cannot be instantaneous. It will take multiple windows. Do not expect that open top bus any time soon.
(Thomas Meunier is set to depart PSG this summer and United would be interested in him)