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Sir Jim Ratcliffe: Manchester United’s New Era

As the curtain pulls down on what has been nothing short of an incredible week for Manchester United on several levels, it would be foolish to chastise the fans for being excited about the potential future that lies ahead of them. Since buying their first shares in the club in 2003 and completing a full takeover in 2005, the Glazer family has never shown the openness and honesty that Sir Jim Ratcliffe did yesterday.

Furthermore, there seemed to be a fight inside the Manchester-born billionaire. There seemed to be the healthy bitterness of a fan inside him. A man who was hurting just like the 76,000+ fans who will march single file into a rotten, decrepit stadium on Saturday to cheer on a football operation that has been starved of help for more than a decade. A brave face they’ve worn for several years, but maybe now it’s time they can drop the exhausting fake smile, and pave the way for a real one.

“I want to knock them off their perch.”

The 20th league title Liverpool won this season in Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield will serve as a stark reminder to United supporters that two clubs are currently streets ahead of them. Ratcliffe touched on the fact that the environment at the club over the last decade was not an elite sports environment, and that United would need two or three seasons before they entered into a position to joust with their two Northern rivals.

That process has started, with the signature of City’s COO, Omar Berrada, and it’s set to continue with the sniping of Newcastle United’s CEO, Dan Ashworth. Ratcliffe made clear his feelings about the fact that the Geordie’s are currently set to make Ashworth sit in his garden for over a year and a half.

“It’s a bit silly, personally. I wont get dragged into that”. “What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting a man who is really good at his job sits in his garden for one and a half years”.

Ratcliffe On Newcastle’s treatement of the Dan Ashworth situation

There is a brashness to Ratcliffe that has sent United fans into a frenzy on social media. After nearly 20 years of media silence from a family who did not care about the fan’s opinions, here is a man who holds their feelings and disappointments close to his own heart.

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Erik ten Hag:

When the media pressed Ratcliffe about his opinion of Erik ten Hag, he expressed a sentiment that many Manchester United supporters have been trying to drive home to rival supporters regarding the club’s managers for years. It didn’t seem to matter who was in charge at the club, the environment always seemed to turn them rotten.

It’s challenging to fulfil your daily obligations when the house you’re working in is rotting upstairs. Ratcliffe touches on one of the issues, as he suggested that managers at the club had to communicate directly through the Chief Executive to get things done, this is a practice not seen in any other top, or even medium-level football club in the entirety of European football.

“What I would say, if you look at the last 11 years, Man United have had quite a few coaches, nobody has been successful in that Manchester United environment“.

That would say to me that there’s something wrong with the environment”.

Ratcliffe on Erik ten Hag.

INEOS are reported to be open to working with Erik ten Hag, according to David Ornstein, and it seems like he will at least be given until the summer before any decision is made regarding his future. The new ownership understands the environment is not in place for success to be created, and until that environment is put in place, the managers cannot hold the sole blame for the lack of trophies the squad is winning.

The Multi-Club Ownership Issue:

Ratcliffe made it clear to United fans and to the media, who have been asking the question, that the shares he holds in OGC Nice and Swiss club Lausanne Sport will not affect the Red Devils in the Champions League. The INEOS owner referenced the acquisition of Omar Berrada from Manchester City, who has been helping to run the day-to-day ordeals of their multi-club sphere, the City Group, as someone who would be helping them navigate that world when the time comes.

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Conversations have been held with UEFA too to ensure that the club will face no issues in qualifying for the Champions League under the ownership of the billionaire.

“We have spoken to UEFA. There is no reason for Nice’s shareholding to prevent Manchester United from participating in the Champions League, I will be very clear on that”.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

The Downsides:

Manchester United fans, as previously mentioned, have a right to be optimistic regarding the future, but as journalists, it’s always our job to give a balanced view on proceedings. Ratcliffe has in the past had failings at both OGC Nice and Lausanne Sport, and they have to be highlighted when talking about the running of Manchester United.

The feeling about that is that the people United can hire are of a much higher grade and stature than the likes of Lausanne and Nice. The French side currently sits third in Ligue One, behind Brest and PSG. Ratcliffe admits he has made errors in the past, which he has learned from before taking the role at one of the biggest clubs on the planet.

“I don’t want to finish up criticising Chelsea but what I would say is that, in having bought other clubs in Lausanne and Nice, we have made a lot of cock-ups. We’ve made some really stupid decisions in both those clubs. There are a lot of organisations in the world where, if you make a mistake, you get shot, so nobody ever puts their head above the parapet.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe, A New Era?

Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, Manchester United fans will have to be patient. INEOS is going to attempt to employ an elite structure at United, and that is not something that happens overnight. The Reds will not become Manchester City next season, nor will they be firing on all cylinders like Liverpool in two seasons either. There is a five-window transfer plan to overhaul the team, and that will start with the summer window, when a significant amount of investment is anticipated.

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Before that investment starts, the club and the new ownership are expected to figure out exactly what style of play the team wants to showcase going forward. Within the meetings, it will be clear whether Erik ten Hag can help them get to that level, or whether a change is needed, with a manager coming in who suits that plan a bit more than the Dutchman. He has always been fluid at any club he’s gone to, however, and has a habit of changing his play style to suit the DNA of a club.

Excitement for the Reds, but acknowledgement that getting back to the top is tomorrow’s dream, as today’s will have to be a bit more down to earth.

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