Manchester United will be set for a big change in the board room in a few weeks. On February 1, Richard Arnold will succeed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward as the club’s most senior figure, and he will be expected to hit the ground running.
While Woodward’s tenure was marked by commercial successes off the pitch, United still have a long way to go to reclaim the glory days of yesteryear when Sir Alex Ferguson patrolled the dugout.
There will be plenty of issues for Arnold to resolve over the coming months, and we have identified three items that will fall into his in-tray.
Bridge the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool
Over the past few seasons, Manchester City and Liverpool have been the benchmark for Premier League teams. They have set the bar with their dazzling brands of football, and at times, they have been almost untouchable, with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp respectively laying down to the gauntlet to their rivals.
United last won the title in 2013 – Ferguson’s last year in charge – but since then, they haven’t come close to getting their hands on the coveted prize. This season has been largely unforgettable with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked, and at times, United have struggled for an identity.
?? We are pleased to announce that Richard Arnold will become Chief Executive Officer of the club, effective from 1 February.#MUFC— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 6, 2022
Overhauling City and Liverpool in the years to come won’t just require a lot of hard work on the training ground, there will have to be major adjustments made, and as we know, success doesn’t happen overnight.
Nevertheless, Arnold will have to be rather canny in the transfer market. Last summer, there were some big outlays on Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, while Cristiano Ronaldo made a spectacular homecoming to much fanfare from the Red Devils faithful. Unlike Woodward, who endured many transfer blunders, Arnold will have to provide some reassurance that he has a vision for the club.
How do you solve a problem like Paul Pogba?
Paul Pogba has been the subject of transfer speculation for some time, and his long-term future at Old Trafford remains unclear. There has been talk of a move to Paris Saint-Germain, and the midfielder has failed to live up to his hefty price tag. This has been in part down to injuries, but when he has been fit, his performances have wavered.
With Nemanja Matic’s time at United also seeming to be fast approaching the end, Arnold will need to find some suitable replacements. At the moment, Scott McTominay has been United’s most reliable and consistent performer in the middle of the park, but he will need help.
Who is next in the dugout?
When Ralf Rangnick took over from Solskjaer, it was only supposed to be a stop-gap. United agreed on a six-month deal with the German tactician, and then after that, he would move upstairs to assume a consultancy role.
Since Ferguson retired nine years ago, United have gone through the motions, and there has been a lack of stability. Rangnick was brought in to steady the ship, but Arnold will surely be targeting a manager with an impressive CV that has the credentials to manage a club of United’s size and stature.
A handful of names have been bandied about over the past few months, including Mauricio Pochettino, Erik ten Hag, and Zinedine Zidane. Pochettino has emerged as the strong favourite to be appointed before the start of next season. Paddy Power have offered short odds of 6/4 for Pochettino to take over the reins, and the Argentine would relish the chance to come back to the Premier League.
Objectives for the remainder of the season
Naturally, it will take a bit of time for Arnold to get his feet under the table and make his mark at United. The Red Devils will be hoping there is a silver lining come the end of May, and the FA Cup represents their only chance of landing silverware.
The main objective will be to secure a top-four spot and claim a Champions League berth, and this will be fiercely contested. United are in the frame, and they are currently currying odds of 9/4 with William Hill.