Manchester United January Transfer Window Verdict 2022/23 | THT Opinions

The Hard Tackle analyses the business conducted by Manchester United and gives its verdict on their performance in the January transfer window.

The January transfer window shut down on Tuesday following a jam-packed deadline day. There was a brief lull around lunchtime before the action picked up as we drew closer to the 11 pm cutoff, with Manchester United probably completing the final deal.

Meanwhile, the month-long extravaganza produced some intriguing stories and narratives. Some clubs came close to signing a player, only for the deal to collapse in the eleventh hour. Others had seemingly lost the race to land their targets before eventually getting over the line.

One running theme that continued was the typically frenetic fashion in which several clubs scrambled to complete their desired deals. Manchester United had been one of these clubs after barely being active in the transfer market.

The Red Devils did not move many pieces in the month-long January transfer window. Manchester United signed just three players, with each of them arriving at Old Trafford on loan. In addition, very few moved out, at least among those who have been regulars, with Cristiano Ronaldo the only significant departure.

The fact of the matter is Manchester United did not have enough money to make considerable changes to the first-team squad. That is because this was probably the final transfer window under the Glazers. And The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Manchester United and how they fared in the market while also giving its final verdict on the overall business.

INS: Jack Butland (loan), Wout Weghorst (loan), Marcel Sabitzer (loan)

OUTS: Cristiano Ronaldo, Axel Tuanzebe (loan), Martin Dubravka (loan cancellation)

MVA (Most Valuable Addition): Marcel Sabitzer

Jack Butland joined Manchester United on loan from Crystal Palace after Martin Dubravka exited. And while the English goalkeeper can be an able deputy to David de Gea, he is just a placeholder. Meanwhile, Wout Weghorst came in as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo as Manchester United chased a striker.

The Dutch striker has already shown what he is capable of in the few games he has played so far. But Weghorst will likely be a backup to Anthony Martial if all players are fit and available. That is not the case with the player we have picked in this section, Marcel Sabitzer.

Manchester United had to wait until the final moments to complete the deal to sign Sabitzer. And the January transfer window had already shut by the time they announced the deal. But signing the Austrian international is a clever piece of business by the Red Devils, even though he was a panic buy.

With Christian Eriksen on the sidelines for much of the remainder of the season, Manchester United needed a midfield reinforcement. They delved into the market for a midfielder on Tuesday and quickly wrapped up the deal for Sabitzer. But despite being a panic buy, the 28-year-old brings a lot to the table.

The Austrian international is a versatile midfielder who can put in the hard yards and push up the pitch. He can also stitch together intricate passes while being a defensive workhorse. Sabitzer also has a menacing shot in his kitty, although he is not as prolific on the dead ball as Eriksen. But all in all, the Bayern Munich loanee will add value to Erik ten Hag’s squad.

Shrewd Work (A Departure That Is Ideal For All Parties): Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo bid goodbye to Manchester United. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

There was something quite beautifully symmetrical about Manchester United’s business in the January transfer window. Three players departed from Old Trafford, while three arrived in the last four weeks.

Martin Dubravka’s short stint with the Red Devils ended when Newcastle United recalled him from his loan stint. Axel Tuanzebe regained fitness in time to join Stoke City on loan on deadline day. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure was ideal for Manchester United.

Technically, Manchester United terminated Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract in November. But the exit counts in the January transfer window business for the Premier League heavyweights. And parting ways with Ronaldo was a long time coming for them. The Portuguese international returned to Old Trafford 18 months ago to much fanfare.

But he was not a happy camper for most of his second stint with Manchester United. And as the 2022/23 season began, Ronaldo was miserable at the club. He whined and sulked, irrespective of whether he was on or off the pitch. And after losing his trademark change of pace, it was clear that Ronaldo no longer had the quality to deliver the goods for his team.

So the infamous interview with Piers Morgan gave Manchester United an excuse to part ways with Ronaldo. And judging by his performances for Portugal at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Red Devils seemingly did not make the wrong decision. And without the toxicity of the veteran striker in the dressing room, the Manchester United players seem more well-knit than ever under Erik ten Hag.

The Big Miss (A Player Who Should Have Left): Brandon Williams (loan)

Brandon Williams needed to leave Manchester United in January. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

This section is usually reserved for players who should have left the club permanently. However, in this case, we have zeroed in on someone who would have benefitted by leaving Manchester United, albeit temporarily.

Anthony Elanga and Facundo Pellistri were keen on leaving Manchester United in the January transfer window. And with the duo barely featuring, they would have benefitted from a loan spell away from Old Trafford. But despite Erik ten Hag’s reluctance to rotate his troops, the duo can be valuable.

However, there is one player who should have secured a move away from Manchester United last month. This player has barely made his mark for the Red Devils since his first full season and needs to resurrect his stuttering career. We are talking about Brandon Williams.

The right-back options are sorted, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka earning his stripes under ten Hag. And Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia have the left-back slot locked in for the remainder of the season. So Brandon Williams has no spot to gain in the team, especially as the campaign progresses.

The 22-year-old had a solid loan stint with Norwich City in the 2021/22 season. And another such spell might have been what the doctor ordered for Williams. But he will have to bide his time before possibly leaving Manchester United for good in the summer.

Final Verdict: A MIXED BAG

Erik ten Hag should be reasonably happy with Manchester United’s January transfer business, considering their constraints. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Manchester United barely made any changes to the first-team squad. But the January transfer window was still largely successful for them, considering they parted ways with Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet, it feels they missed a tricky by not offloading Brandon Williams and one or two other players.

However, offloading Ronaldo has galvanised the dressing room atmosphere. In addition, ten Hag’s charges are playing increasingly beautiful football with every passing game. But with Manchester United set to play a game every three days, they could have beefed up the squad slightly more.

However, with funds drying up at Old Trafford, making more changes to the squad was not possible. So, considering the constraints, Manchester United somehow managed a decent January transfer window. The coming months will provide the litmus test for Erik ten Hag and his charges.

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