For the time being, Manchester United's recruitment record is being criticised by Ralf Rangnick.
In the Premier League, United are on course to finish with their fifth consecutive season without a trophy and sit four points off the final Champions League qualification spot, with fourth-placed Arsenal four points ahead of them and with a game still to play.
It has been frequently criticized that Manchester United has been slow to compete with rival clubs for the services of elite players since Sir Alex Ferguson's final years in charge of the club. As part of the disastrous 'culture reset' in 2019, United revamped its recruitment approach, but their summer additions - Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Harry Maguire - have failed to live up to their expectations.
During Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time at United, 14 players were signed. At the time, high-ranking United sources said that their recruitment had been bad, but they were aiming for a 70% success rate, which they fell well short of during that time.
A seasoned recruiter, Rangnick most recently served as sporting director of the Red Bull group from 2012 to 2016, and he will begin consulting for United on July 1.
"At the end of the day, it all comes down to recruitment," Rangnick remarked of United's difficulties. "At the appropriate time, with the right players, and not wasting time with the wrong ones. Football is a rather simple sport.
"In terms of recruitment, it's about understanding what kind of players we actually need for which type of football and what we stand for, and then having the greatest possible manager to fit into that process.
"No one can tell me [why it's been a problem at United]. I can only speak about the last four months, during which time we signed no players, lost only a few players, and failed to sign anyone else at all. This is yet another problem that we discuss in person with our board members rather than in front of the media, as was the case last year."
If United do not qualify for the Champions League this season, their appeal in the summer transfer market will be diminished, as they learned three years ago when they signed the three players named above from Swansea, Crystal Palace, and Leicester City.
With the upcoming season approaching, Rangnick indicated that United may take inspiration from Arsenal's preparations. Since 2014, Manchester United have routinely spent more than £50 million on a player since the British record signing of Angel di Maria for £59.7 million in 2014, whereas Arsenal spent £147.5 million on six players this summer but failed to cross the £50 million barrier.
To qualify for the Champions League, Rangnick said, "it would be better for the club both financially and athletically, and it would also be better for the players who are already here." In an ideal world, everyone would like to participate in the Champions League every year, but other clubs have had the same opportunity.
In the case of Arsenal, for example, they haven't played European football in the Champions League for a few of years, but the club has made the proper decisions and believes that this is a realistic possibility." But for the time being, our complete attention is on tomorrow and then on the following game, and we have plenty of time to deal with the rest of the difficulties."
Bruno Fernandes' contract renewal was heralded by Rangnick, despite the fact that United only extended it by one year. Since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, Fernandes has got a significant salary raise, bringing his weekly wage to £240,000 to recognise his contributions to the club.
According to Rangnick, he was aware of Bruno's recent contract extension negotiations and had been kept apprised of the signing process. When a player like this had the option to leave for another club in Europe because of his high demand, it's an example of someone who chose to stay and commit to the club long term. Unless he truly believed in the future of this team, he would not have taken such a risk.
"It demonstrates that, regardless of whether or not the club will compete in the Champions League, it is a large and appealing club." There are reasons why I'm here, and there are reasons why the club is in the position that we are currently in, and it's about figuring out what they are and pressing the right buttons and pulling the right screws to ensure that we can regularly qualify for the Champions League again and win trophies in the future."