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MARK GOLDBRIDGE: Manchester United no longer a top six side and need ‘cheat code owners’ like rivals to help Erik ten Hag’s side

In an exclusive column for talkSPORT.com, Mark Goldbridge explains how to fix Manchester United with the club no longer a top six side, as well as the latest in Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s partial takeover.

Right, Manchester United‘s Premier League season so far… Tenth in the league, and I think that’s where they deserve to be.

United are not the force they once were and are not even a top six side anymore

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United are not the force they once were and are not even a top six side anymoreCredit: Getty

It’s hard to say that, but there are nine teams better than them.

I believe Crystal Palace are above Manchester United, they beat Manchester United, and Aston Villa, Brighton, Newcastle and certainly Spurs are all better.

And that’s the challenge Manchester United have right now. The club will talk about injuries, but I think that was blatantly obvious that was going to happen.

It was a very demanding season last year, it was a very demanding pre-season, and players just can’t keep going three times a week, season after season.

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I think we’ve seen a drop off from Casemiro, from Marcus Rashford, from Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Varane is picking up the injuries again, we’ve changed the goalkeeper, Lisandro Martinez is injured.

With other teams around us getting better as well and more hungry, I think United are almost on cruise control at the moment.

And that’s not going to be enough in the Premier League, so what Erik ten Hag needs to do over the coming weeks and months is re-energise the football team, because it is capable of climbing the league.

But the cold, harsh facts, at the moment, Man United are not a ‘top six’ side, and that’s a hell of a drop off from third last year.

Casemiro is just one United star that has struggled for consistency this season

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Casemiro is just one United star that has struggled for consistency this seasonCredit: Getty

United can be fixed and here’s how

In relation to Manchester United’s future, I think it’s very easy if you’ve got an ownership like Man City or Newcastle and a full reset to have a five-point plan.

You would go infrastructure, stadia, playing squad, removing the players who shouldn’t be there and have been kept for a long time and going toe-to-toe aggressively and ruthlessly with the big names in football now.

That’s very easy in a way, because if you get Qatari, Saudi, or an Elon Musk ownership, then it is a cheat code, but there are clubs that have that.

Man City and Newcastle have that cheat code, we’ve ridiculed it for years, but actually, they’re ahead of the game because that’s what you need.

People shout, ‘well Liverpool have won the title’, Man City have won the title four times out of the last five, well done, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool for winning that title, but it’s not consistent, is it?

He’s done it once and he’s not been able to back it up, because he hasn’t got the resources that Pep Guardiola has got.

So what would my five-point plan be with Sir Jim Ratcliffe? It’s really difficult without knowing what’s happening.

Money is ultimately the key, he only owns 25 per cent, we are riddled with debt, Financial Fair Play is a problem.

Ratcliffe is likely to purchase a 25 per cent stake in United

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Ratcliffe is likely to purchase a 25 per cent stake in UnitedCredit: AFP

So I think that you have to clear the debt, you have to clear the deadwood to have an impact on Financial Fair Play and reduce that wage bill and open up the gap to spend money.

The stadium is in desperate need of renovation, it’s not even been listed to take part in Euro 2028, and it’s the biggest domestic ground in the country, it’s an embarrassment.

The infrastructure, the director of football, the CEO, I mean it’s basically top-to-bottom change, how much change you can make with 25 per cent and how much change can you make when you don’t own the club, are you really going to throw your money in?

It’s like going in next door and fixing their kitchen and their bathroom, it’s not your house.

So this is the problem, if it was a clean break, I think there’s a massive list of things to do and it involves a lot of money.

But the Sir Jim one, it’s just like, how does this work?

Takeover news is not what fans want or expected

My honest thoughts on the United takeover story, Sir Jim Ratcliffe looking to take 25 per cent with a potential path to a full takeover in maybe three years time, is one of major disappointment.

It’s interesting in the fanbase at the moment, because there was a united view that it was a full sale and Glazers out, and literally all we’ve had is newspaper stories.

And suddenly, certain United fans are believing newspaper stories that it’s a full sale in three years and 25 per cent, and they’ve almost parked their priorities.

Goldbridge has been left disappointed that the Glazer family remain in control

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Goldbridge has been left disappointed that the Glazer family remain in controlCredit: Getty Images – Getty

For me and many other fans, a full sale meant Glazers out completely, I’m not subscribing to a view of ‘let’s wait and see what happens’, this was the mistake that happened in 2005.

I wanted a full sale, I know that represented Qatar, but for me, it’s not really about Sheikh Jassim and his bid, he was the only one offering up a full sale.

If Sir Jim Ratcliffe was offering a full sale now and the Glazers out, I would be very, very different about it.

I don’t trust the Glazers, I don’t think many Man United fans do.

I don’t trust that they will go in three years, and I would question why they’re turning down £5billion in cash now, to wait three years, there must be more in it.

And I just think there’s a massive naivety in the media and in the fanbase in general as to how does this deal work.

And fair enough, a lot of people have called it out, I heard Simon Jordan on the radio call it out.

There’s just too many if, buts and maybes on what is almost 20 years of Glazer ownership and this had to be right.

And ultimately, it looks like the Glazers are staying and that’s against the principles of what many Man United fans want.

Sheikh Jassim pulled out of the takeover race after the Glazers rejected his latest offer

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Sheikh Jassim pulled out of the takeover race after the Glazers rejected his latest offer

Anthony Martial’s time at Old Trafford is up, he can’t be relied upon

Does Anthony Martial have a future at Manchester United? This is a player I really like, and I believe it’s a player that Ten Hag likes.

But at some point you have to acknowledge that last season was horrific – injury-wise.

So therefore, you have got to look to move that player on, because you can’t rely on a player that is not fit, if they can’t play, you can’t work with them.

So I think that’s Ten Hag’s stance and I think that’s my stance, if Anthony Martial could stay fit for 90 per cent of the season, then I think you would use him.

The big problem that Manchester United have got, and I see fans saying all the time, ‘let’s get rid of him in January’.

You see newspaper outlets saying, ‘he’s going to get kicked out in January’, but the same thing applies, I don’t think he goes anywhere.

He’s on around £200,000-a-week, nobody is going to pay that, no-one is going to give us a transfer fee.

I think unfortunately, this is a business model that Manchester United have had in recent years, where you see Ander Herrera who is worth £25m, walking out the door for nothing at the end of his contract.

French forward Martial is set to become a free agent at the end of the season

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French forward Martial is set to become a free agent at the end of the seasonCredit: Getty

David de Gea, walking out the door, 32 years of age, £350,000-a-week, no-one would pay his wages, but he’s still worth around £20m as a goalkeeper.

And I think the same thing will happen with Martial, they won’t renew his contract and they’ll get rid of him, and another player who actually has a value, will just move out the door because we pay him too much in wages.

So I think Martial ultimately will leave as I don’t see anybody buying Martial.

I think Manchester United are just incapable of selling these players because they pay them too much money.

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