Much has been written about Erik ten Hag’s determination to build a team of warriors at Manchester United and a new report claims that this was the thinking behind the club’s ill-fated approach to sign Bologna’s Marko Arnautovic.
The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell claims that “having worked with Arnautovic at FC Twente, Ten Hag identified a streak in the striker he wished to add to his dressing room.
“The term ‘nasty b–ard’ was mentioned, in a complimentary way.”
However, fans reacted badly when the news broke and many would have used the same expression but not in a complimentary way.
The reaction caused a u-turn for the club as John Murtough was preparing to return with a second bid for the Austrian.
Whitwell notes that “the episode was an example of the risk associated with following a manager on his recommendations unchecked.”
The fault must lie with Murtough. It is Ten Hag’s job to recommend players he would like at the club but Murtough’s to do the due diligence on that player before opening negotiations.
A simple background check would have revealed racism bans and allegations.
As reported here recently, the approach had United’s former boss Ralf Rangnick, now Arnautovic’s national team’s head coach, “shaking his head” in disbelief.
Whitwell makes the point that the timing of the Arnautovic approach was wrong, too. As it was relatively early in the window, fans were angry at United’s lack of ambition to sign a 33 year old who had not set the Premier League on fire in the past.
Had the approach been made on or close to deadline day, “some at the club feel that … might have been palatable to fans as a supplementary signing rather than a central one,” the reporter explains.
In the end, United did not sign any striker this summer and are extremely light in that area as a result.
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