Despite there being two months of the season left to go, Manchester United fans must already resign themselves to yet another trophyless season.
Regardless of whether the Red Devils manage to put together a run of form that allows them to secure a top four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League, there are sure to be many changes at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ over the summer.
We already know that current interim manager Ralf Rangnick will be moving upstairs into a director of football type role in June – and United have already begun to interview potential replacements, including Ajax boss Eric ten Hag.
However, it’s not just the managerial post at United that needs to be sorted during the close season. There’s likely to be a fair bit of movement when it comes to the club’s playing staff.
Names such as Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani all look set to depart on free transfers, while several of their current teammates could also join them in exiting Old Trafford.
Naturally, when big names leave a football club, their replacements are never far behind.
With that in mind, the Manchester Evening News have put together their perfect 25-man squad with which they felt United can launch a bid to recapture former glories.
We’ve taken a look at their final line-up – which includes a number of fresh faces – below
Goalkeepers: David de Gea, David Ospina, Tom Heaton
Suggesting that Dean Henderson should move on in order to further his career, the first of six new faces in this proposed new United squad is current Napoli shot-stopper David Ospina.
Out of contract at the Serie A club this summer, 35-year-old Ospina is touted as a capable understudy to first-choice keeper De Gea.
Defenders: Denzel Dumfries, Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Antonio Rudiger, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams
Here’s where the offloading of some bigger names begins.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are all marked for pastures new. Recruited in their place are Antonio Rudiger (available on a free transfer from Chelsea) and Denzel Dumfries (from Inter Milan).
Neither deal would be necessarily straightforward for United, but both men would add some much- needed solidity to the Red Devils’ backline.
Midfielders: Declan Rice, Boubacar Kamara, Scott McTominay, James Garner, Hannibal Mejbri, Fred, Bruno Fernandes
If Rudiger and Dumfries are ambitious targets, then West Ham’s Declan Rice is even more of a stretch.
The Hammers won’t want to part with their star man. However, if United can tempt the east London club into a sale, Rice would be the ideal acquisition to solve the club’s defensive midfield woes.
As additional back-up in a problem area, Marseille holding midfielder Boubacar Kamara is soon to be out of contract at the Ligue 1 side and would make another fine recruit.
Attackers: Jadon Sancho, Anthony Elanga, Marcus Rashford, Amad Diallo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alexander Isak
Perhaps the most controversial element of this proposed roster of forwards is that it includes Cristiano Ronaldo – who turns 38 next February.
He might be United’s leading scorer in all competitions this season, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner still only has 12 goals to his name this term.
The club requires a far greater return from their attacking personnel than they have seen in 2021/22. To that end, the final new signing suggested by the MEN is Real Sociedad’s 22-year-old frontman Alexander Isak.
The Swedish younger has proved his quality in La Liga since joining Sociedad from Borussia Dortmund in June 2019 and his arrival could help fresh up a United forward unit then has looked decidedly stale at points this season.
Interestingly, despite his form woes at present, Marcus Rashford is backed to remain a part of the United squad under the new regime.
A huge few months lie ahead at Old Trafford.
Quiz: Football mascots quiz: Can you name the weird and wonderful characters at British clubs?
Player of the Season Show (Via The Football Terrace)