Manchester United dressing room chat highlights Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s biggest challenge

Sir Jim Ratcliffe watching United
Sir Jim Ratcliffe watching United -Credit:Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images.

"We have faced a terrible season, for me, personally, and as a group as well. I don't think my teammates are happy with the situation we are facing. I know them, they are all winners, everyone wants to win, before the season we spoke about fighting for every single title."

Andre Onana pulled no punches when asked to reflect on Manchester United's dismal campaign this week.

The Reds can officially no longer qualify for the Champions League next season, though in truth their aspirations of dining at Europe's top table next term have been over for some time.

Thursday night football is set to return to Old Trafford after a year away, with the Europa League the best United can hope for. Having finished third in the Premier League in Erik ten Hag's first year in charge and with the Carabao Cup secured to end a six-year trophy drought, it's understandable the United squad would be hoping to push on this season, especially given the £179.2m spent on Mason Mount, Rasmus Hojlund and Onana.

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But to head into the season with the aim of challenging for every title seems optimistic at best. Granted, it would have been even more bizarre had Onana conceded United had no plans to challenge for a particular piece of silverware, but to reveal the squad genuinely discussed challenging for everything before the season kicked off is a bold move given how the season has unfolded.

'We are Manchester United' has been a phrase regularly carted out this season, yet history counts for nothing when European places are dished out at the end of the year.

The Sir Jim Ratcliffe era at Old Trafford is already well underway and wholesale changes are expected at the club over the coming months. While on-the-pitch changes will have to wait until the summer, the shake-up at boardroom level has already seen a number of incoming and outgoings, with Ineos director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford playing a key role.

Brailsford is a pioneer of the marginal gains philosophy, and so the leap from Carabao Cup winners and the third-best team in the Premier League to a side who believed they were capable of fighting for every title on offer will likely have raised a few eyebrows in the Ineos camp.

Realistically, nobody expected United to be challenging on all four fronts this season. A good run into the latter rounds of the Champions League alongside another top-four finish and a cup win would likely have been seen as progress by a lot of United fans. United made it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League last term but the Champions League is a whole different ball game and so a solid showing back in the competition would have represented progress.

United aren't going to get back to the summit of English football in one summer. Marginal gains are needed, and that's something Ratcliffe and his Ineos team realise.

A change in culture is needed at United and Ratcliffe can be the man to drive that change.