A slow but sure clean up at Arsenal is almost complete, and the club is reaping the fruits after a painful period that came in the aftermath of Arsene Wenger’s departure. The same treatment has been prescribed for Manchester United who find themselves at the foot of the Premier League standings after their opening two games.
A bloated wage bill has not gone down well with the underperformance that has been witnessed in the past few seasons at the team. Signing club legend Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus at the start of last season hasn’t delivered the expected fruits. In his first season on return, United had one of their worst performances and while his contribution wasn’t in question, there were questions over whether the team would have done better without him being the centre of focus.
To state that he earns £515,385 a week wages is to add salt to the injury and even after stating the desire to leave in search of Champions League football, United were initially unwilling to let their star player depart. Perhaps it is time for United to consider paying him to leave, just like Arsenal did to a number of their top earners, including Mesut Ozil, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and more.
In Arsenal’s perspective, as Edu explained, it is working really well, with the team getting back into shape. They look like a team that can finally compete and the correct predictions for football on Wincomparator have so far gone well for the Gunners. In Josh Kroenke’s words, Arsenal was a team in the Europa League but with a Champions League wage bill. That is the situation Manchester United find themselves in.
Apart from Ronaldo, United have goalkeeper David de Gea who is on a weekly pay of £375,000 and while the Spaniard did well last season under very tough circumstances, his pay has come under scrutiny on the back of a poor start to the current campaign. His performance in the 4-0 loss to Brentford was specifically highlighted, and coming after the departure of Dean Henderson on loan complicates United’s options.
Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane are the others above the £300k bracket and a combination of injury and poor performances have meant they haven’t justified the high earnings. Sancho is on £350,000 and Varane £340,000.
At least three more players are above the £200,000 a week threshold and this forms the biggest problem for United, with these players either being bit part players or performing below the expected standards. Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial are all in this bracket.
A bigger portion of the blame for United’s woes definitely goes to the club skipper Harry Maguire, who is also a high earner. Last season his errors caused United to concede a substantial number of goals and while he forms a big part of the experienced lads in the team, his contribution has been constantly questioned, and especially with the amount United paid for his services.
After using three different managers in the past two seasons without improving on the results, maybe United need to rethink their strategy – starting a fresh rebuild. Key to this would be lowering the wage bill and with a number of lengthy contracts in the team, paying players to leave, like Arsenal did, could be a good move.