Man United player recruitment strategy ‘ahead of schedule’

Manchester United are “ahead of schedule” with their recruitment plans under manager Erik ten Hag, club football director John Murtough said on Thursday.

United spent more than £225 million on six new players during Ten Hag’s first summer in charge, including Lisandro Martinez and Antony from former club Ajax.

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Murtough, speaking as the club released their latest financial results, said the revamp of the playing squad was necessary after finishing sixth in the Premier League last year but insisted the level of spending on new players would be reduced for future windows.

“During the summer we made a significant investment in the first team squad with the permanent addition of five regular starters, including a balance of experienced international players and younger, emerging talent,” Murtough said.

“We also saw a higher-than-usual number of departures, and this was an equally important part of refreshing the squad after the disappointing 2021-22 season.

“We will continue to support Erik in ensuring he has players with the right quality and characters to achieve success, while ensuring that investment remains consistent with our commitment to financial sustainability.

“Overall, we are ahead of schedule in our recruitment plans as envisaged at the beginning of the summer, and we do not anticipate the same level of activity in future windows. As always, our planning focuses on the summer window.”

United signed Martinez, Anthony, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Martin Dubravka over the summer, but Murtough said the most significant arrival was Ten Hag himself.

The 52-year-old has only overseen eight competitive games, but Murtough said there has already been noticeable progress.

“The most important development during the 2021-22 season was the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager,” Murtough added.

“After a thorough search and due diligence process it was clear to us that Erik was the strongest candidate, based on his outstanding coaching record, his commitment to the proactive, attacking football we want to play, and the vision and ambition he showed for the role.

“There is still a long way to go, but we have already seen, during his first four months in charge, an increased unity, focus and drive that bodes well for the future.”

On Thursday, United announced a net loss of £115.5m for 2021-22 and an increase in net debt of £94.5m. Revenue has risen 18% to £583.2m.

The fourth quarter financial results also revealed the club’s wage bill has increased by £61m to £384m after investment in the squad in both 2021 and 2022 while the cost of terminating contracts with former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and former interim manager Ralf Rangnick, plus associated staff, was £24.7m.

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