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Ralf Rangnick has perfect chance to seal ideal Man United transfer and protect blueprint

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If Ralf Rangnick is serious about making a success of his Manchester United project, then selling Anthony Martial should be at the top of his January transfer window to-do list.

The German took charge until the end of the season as interim head coach in November, with a view to taking on a consultancy role at the club for the following two years.

That shows, if nothing else, that Rangnick has chosen to invest his time in shaping a vision for what Man United will eventually look like at the end of that period in 2024.

It is a club in need of new direction, fresh impetus and a leader who can revitalise the club across all areas, including the academy, recruitment, football philosophy and at senior level. As a coach and an experienced director of football, Rangnick is the perfect man for the job.

There are already signs that the 63-year-old is bringing a new culture to the club, one where hard work and following instructions supersedes individual talent.

But also, he demands loyalty — and Martial’s apparent desire to leave the club is a clear contradiction to that.

The player’s agent, Philippe Lamboley, recently told Sky Sports that Martial wants to leave in January to get more first-team football. Rangnick responded by insisting any player that doesn’t want to play for the club should tell him directly.

“I don’t communicate with agents via the media and the press. The player hasn’t spoken with me or with us about it,” he said in a press conference.

“And to be honest what his agent says via media is not that much of interest to me.

“I will not speak to the player about it because then I would react to what his agent said. It should be the player, if he really has the wish to go to another club, who informs either the board or myself, whomever.”

He had the same mentality when asked about Paul Pogba’s future. Surprisingly, his answer was somewhat noncommittal, suggesting it was not his responsibility to try and convince Pogba to change his mind over signing a new contract.

“I wouldn’t say he’s not worth keeping but, of course, players have to want to play and stay for a club and a big club like Manchester United,” Rangnick said last week.

“If a player does not want to play for a club like Manchester United medium or long-term, I don’t think it makes sense to convince him to change his mind.”

Rangnick has made it clear that he wants committed players in his squad — on and off the pitch — to make United work together as a unit. So if there are players who openly state their intention is to leave, that goes against the culture he is trying to implement.

On the pitch, his core footballing principle is ‘gegenpressing’, an out-of-possession tactic that puts immense pressure on the opposition by swarming the opposition. When they are in possession, he wants fast-paced, positive football, akin to Jurgen Klopp’s “heavy metal” style of play.

There were signs that the United players are adhering to Rangnick’s methods early on in the 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday. They pressed high, passed quickly and it looked easy on the eye.

But then they lost concentration and control in the game and Norwich disrupted their rhythm. The winner came from the penalty spot after Cristiano Ronaldo was fouled, rather than from Rangnick’s bold new style.

At this point, the Man United coach would take a favourable result over performance. However, he has been clear in laying out what he expects from his squad while he is in the dugout.

In only his second game in charge, he accused of his players of “ignoring my instructions”, and it is an easy leap to make that Martial will not fit into his plans.

The Frenchman is unquestionably talented, but does not possess the same gritty determination as Mason Greenwood or Marcus Rashford. His attitude can often dictate his performance: if he is lively, he is full of running. But when he is nonplussed, more likely than not he will be ineffectual.

Former Crystal Palace chief Simon Jordan, now a radio pundit, recently painted Martial as the poster boy for everything that is wrong about United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

“Get the cab ready and put Martial in it ready as quick as you can, and then you’ve got an opportunity,” Jordan told Talksport, when asked if United should sell the striker.

“Because I think Martial is one of those players who gets you the sack.

“I think he is the archetypal Manchester United player of the last half a decade that, on paper, looks a great player and has all the ability.

“But when it comes to it, [he’s got a] heart the size of a pea.”

That criticism may seem harsh, given that Martial has won the Europa League and FA Cup with United, as well as scored 78 goals in 263 appearances — hardly a disgraceful record in front of goal.

But it is his current form that will concern Rangnick. He has only scored one goal in his 10 appearances this season and registered only seven goals in 36 in 2020-21. Few would argue against his omission from the team.

The United boss has his sights set on bringing in new signings to freshen up the squad, with a new midfielder his top priority in January.

And he may have already made plans to sign a player such as RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara with the funds from Martial’s sale, with Atletico Madrid the latest side to be linked with a move.

That his agent, not the player himself, has made such a public statement about his future is forgivable. But the subject of his future is an unwanted distraction for Rangnick as he attempts to steer United back on course for a top-four finish.

And that is why he requires a quick resolution to protect the new identity he is building for the club – to bid a heavy-hearted farewell to Martial once and for all.

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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