Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

‘Drive them to the airport’ – Ratcliffe told to ruthlessly axe 11 Man Utd players to restore club to greatness

Anthony Martial, Antony and Jadon Sancho of Manchester United

Anthony Martial, Antony and Jadon Sancho of Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been told to ruthlessly dump 11 underperforming stars if he wants to restore Manchester United to the very top of English and European football, with one former Liverpool man naming and shaming over £500m worth of talent the Red Devils need to sell off.

The first season in charge under the Dutchman hinted at a return to greatness with Manchester United finishing third in the Premier League, reaching the FA Cup final and winning the Carabao Cup. However, much of that hope has quickly been extinguished in the wake of a hugely-difficult start to the 2023/24 campaign with the club losing 13 of their opening 27 games in a run that represents their wirst ever start to a season since 1930.

There was some much-needed relief, however, on Boxing Day with United recovering from a 2-0 deficit to beat in-form Aston Villa 3-2 to give their fans some welcome festive cheer.

And while Rasmus Hojlund scored his first Premier League goal to make Dwight Yorke’s claims about Erling Haaland joining United looking more than a little far-fetched to say the least.

But the truth of the matter is that moments of pure joy have been few and far behind in a thoroughly-miserable season so far.

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe buying 25 per cent of the Glazers’ shareholdings, however, supporters will hope that better times are just around the corner.

And with the British businessman poised to take charge of all United’s transfer incomings and outgoings, Ratcliffe has received a detailed run-down of his current squad, and been told 11 players he needs to sell off to restore the club among the elite.

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Man Utd told to dump 11 players not good enough for club

The sage advice comes to Ratcliffe from former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Wales striker Dean Saunders, who feels Ratcliffe needs to get tough if United are to challenge the likes of Manchester City for the game’s top prizes.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Saunders has named 11 players that the British billionaire needs to get rid off, some perhaps more harshly than others.

“Man Utd, for me, don’t work hard enough,” Saunders began. “There’s a lot of players there who have survived five managers and they’ve got to leave the club. Obviously the manager has tried to get rid of a lot of them and the players know.

“If I tried to get rid of you [Jamie O’Hara] when you were at Wolves and you knew I was trying to get rid of you, are you going to pull trees up for me when we are losing 2-0 at half-time?

“You aren’t are you? You are going to go ‘don’t have a go at me, you’ve tried to sell me three times’.”

When asked by O’Hara who he would get rid of, Saunders added: “How long you got? For a start I would’ve got rid of [David] De Gea because he’d been there five years and he just sat behind the back four, didn’t open his mouth. Peter Schmeichel would’ve had them all by the throat.

“He’s not even got a club, that tells you how much he loves football, the candle has gone out for me. He’s not even got a club right now. How can he not have a club for six months if he loves football?”

Saunders added: “Luke Shaw has been there too long. [Diogo] Dalot is not good enough. [Raphael] Varane, he’s a good player but it’s not happened for him, he’s tried to get rid of Varane. Jonny Evans is not good enough. So there’s the back four.

“[Aaron] Wan-Bissaka, he’s tried to get rid of him. He’s got rid of Fred. [Scott] McTominay, he’s shown he doesn’t think he’s good enough.”

Ratcliffe must sell £215.6m attacking trio

When it was put to Saunders that five-goal McTominay has been one of United’s better players this season, Saunders was unwavering in his view, stating that, despite his good form, he’s not good enough, over the long term, to take United to the next level.

Saunders continued: “Yeah, but he’s not good enough to play for Man Utd, in my opinion. If you play for Man Utd in midfield you’ve got to be one of the best players in the world in midfield. You aren’t playing for Crystal Palace, Man Utd can choose anyone they want.”

The Welshman also thinks United need to get rid of Jadon Sancho, Antony and Anthony Martial, who have cost United a combined £215.6m in fees over the years.

“They’ve got enough money to get the best players. [Marcus] Rashford has been there too long. [Anthony] Martial, drive him to the airport. Who else?

“He got rid of [Anthony] Elanga. Antony, drive him to the airport. [Rasmus] Hojlund, I think Hojlund is going to be good.

“I’ve got Hojlund in there. [Bruno] Fernandes could sit down and have an argument with me, ‘look at my stats’. If you had a look at Fernandes’ assists and goals he’s got an argument.

“[Jadon] Sancho, sitting on his Playstation earning 350 grand a week, drive him to the airport. I mean I don’t know how you are going to get out of that because there’s that much money involved, they are going to lose a fortune.

“[Harry] Maguire, get rid of Maguire. He’s tried to get rid of Maguire four times. He knows, Maguire, he plays Luke Shaw at centre-half.”

Per reports, one of those players named by Saunders – Varane – will be the subject of at least one bid in the January window, amid claims Ratcliffe could look to move him on for a cut-price fee.

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