By 90Min
March 28, 2019

Manchester United have officially appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their permanent manager on a three-year contract until the summer of 2022.

Despite the announcement long being expected, it finally ends once and for all the debate over who the club's next manager will be. But this is still just the beginning and there are things that United as a club must do to ensure the Norwegian's reign is a success.


Keep Coaching Staff Together


When Jose Mourinho was sacked, the Portuguese took the majority of his backroom staff with him. All that remained at Old Trafford were Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna - whose ties were to the club rather than Mourinho - and goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez, the man brought to Manchester specifically to work with David de Gea.

All three men formed part of a new coaching team under Solskjaer, while the Norwegian's initial arrival in December was also met with the news that Mike Phelan, a trusted aide to Sir Alex Ferguson for 12 years until 2013, would be coming back.

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His return, as well as the development of Carrick as a coach and the progression of McKenna from his former role as Under-18 boss, has been seen as a hugely important part of United's upturn over the last few months. It means keeping the group together is crucial.

Carrick and McKenna would not be expected to leave, but Phelan is more of an issue because earlier this year he was also appointed Sporting Director at Australian club Central Coast Mariners. What's more, the 56-year-old expressed just this week that he hopes to continue both roles. It remains to be seen how easy it will be to achieve that and still be successful with each.


Sort Out Contracts


Contracts have been a sore spot for United fans in recent seasons and there needs to be better planning and better negotiating from the club to protect the long-term future of its best assets, something which has not quite been the case over the last few years.

United were lucky to escape with David de Gea intact in 2015 when he entered the final year of his deal and the same could happen again, with the Spaniard's current terms expiring in 2020.

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Similarly, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata, two valuable and popular squad players, have been allowed to get within three months of their contracts expiring. Negotiations have taken place and both men wish to stay and are worthy of their place, yet no agreement for either has been reached.

But United still recently handed a new long-term contract to Phil Jones, a player who has consistently failed to live up to expectations - mainly as a result of poor fitness - and who many supporters long ago gave up on and consider to be deadwood.

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Manchester City and Liverpool, clubs that United must unfortunately now aspire to be more like, protect themselves very well and tie their best players to lengthy contracts long before doubt over their future at the club can start to creep in.


Improve Recruitment Process

As things stand, United have the makings of a very good squad capable of challenging for trophies at home and abroad, but it still isn't quite the finished article. A strong summer of recruitment at the end of the season could make all the difference, with four or five carefully selected signings needed to make the jump back into the elite bracket.

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This is two-fold. Firstly, there needs to be an actual plan, identifying players who fill specific needs and have the right character and/or attitude to be a good fit for the club. The approach has been much more scattered, with transfer policy seeming to lack coherence.

United cannot afford more mistakes like Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez, while the board and manager need to be working together, which was not the case with Mourinho.

Secondly, United officials needs to be able to get deals done. It is no good knowing who you want and then being unable to make it happen when it comes to the crunch, instead ultimately settling for whatever is left at the end of the transfer window.

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David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were both victims of this, with the latter remarking this week that Radamel Falcao had been his 'fourth or fifth choice' as a new striker in the summer of 2014.


Adjust Club Structure

United are alone among the Premier League elite in that they don't have some kind of sporting director, technical director or head of recruitment, who is an expert in transfers and player relations and whose job it is to oversee football operations.

United's transfer business is handled by individuals whose expertise is mainly in finance, banking and commercial deals and has been for a number of years.

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It is most likely for this reason that United have lacked transfer direction and the ability to close deals. Ed Woodward and his team have got some right - Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, even Romelu Lukaku - but they could and should have done so much better.

These days, a good technical director or similar is arguably at least as important as the manager in terms of success on the pitch, and United have been left behind all of their nearest rivals. Without one, they are perhaps operating at just 50% of their potential.

If this doesn't change, every other point on this list - coaching staff, contracts, recruitment - can't improve, and every United manager, Solskjaer and beyond, will continue to fall short.

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