United's new football director would face a huge transfer task immediately

The new year is looming and will it bring a new Manchester United with it?

It remains to be seen but the winds of change are certainly beginning to sweep through Old Trafford ahead of Sir Jim Ratcliffe's investment in the club being officially ratified. The Ineos group are expected to announce they have purchased a 25 per cent stake in the club soon and will look to implement changes in key positions once their foot is in the door.

It has already been announced that chief executive Richard Arnold is to leave the club and MEN Sport understands football director John Murtough is expected to follow him out of the door. A well-placed source says that Murtough is "definitely going" amid a preference for a new figurehead for the football department.

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Although Murtough oversaw the appointment of Erik ten Hag in 2022, which did result in an upturn in performances and results last season, the club's recruitment success has remained hit-and-miss at best. The squad remains imbalanced and low on quality options, laid bare by how badly impacted United have been hit by an injury crisis in the new campaign and their sudden regression.

All of United's signings from this past summer have struggled so far. Rasmus Hojlund is yet to score a Premier League goal, Andre Onana has made several high-profile mistakes while Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat can't even get into the starting XI.

January may still be six weeks off but United are already looking towards it like an oasis in the desert. The start to the season has been dreadful, getting into the top four will be difficult and they are staring down the barrel of an early Champions League exit, if anything is to be salvaged then some reinforcements are required in the new year.

This is why, if they are appointed in time, the new football director will have a huge task on his hands immediately. United could do with at least three recruits in January in defence, out wide and upfront. Even then another defender and midfielder wouldn't go amiss.

But United struggle well enough to get signings over the line with the whole of the summer to work with, let alone just four weeks in an even tougher market to make deals in. Additionally, United are currently working on a shoestring budget due to FFP regulations after overspending in the summer. It's why Amrabat could only be signed on an initial loan.

Wiggle room could be found if fees are raised by player sales - Jadon Sancho is a possible January departure - but it's still hardly stable ground to make a budget on. Instead, United will likely be having to find quality options on the cheap. If there are any to be found. Shopping in the bargain bucket for low fees, loans and free agents.

Finding players who can have a positive impact on the side in those areas is difficult, as United found with their signing of Wout Weghorst last January. So whoever picks up the poison chalice of being United's director of football will be put to the test right out of the gate.

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