Michael Owen has urged Manchester United to concentrate on getting the best out of their current crop of players before ‘looking into someone else’s garden’ and worrying about big-money signings after their crushing 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham.
Jose Mourinho’s men were by far the better side on Sunday evening, even before Anthony Martial’s sending off, with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane both grabbing braces and Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier also getting on the scoresheet at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils’ loss was their heaviest since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took temporary charge back in December 2018 and it raised further questions about the quality – or lack of – in the squad and the club’s lack of activity in this summer’s transfer market.
United identified Jadon Sancho as their number one target at the start of the window but Borussia Dortmund have held firm with their £108million valuation of the England forward, who will remain in Germany for at least another year.
Free agent Edinson Cavani and Porto left-back Alex Telles look set to follow Donny van de Beek through the doors at Old Trafford before tonight’s deadline but Owen believes there’s no quick fix for United’s current woes after comprehensive home defeats to Crystal Palace and Spurs already this season.
‘If I was the chairman or the owner, I would be nervous spending another £100m or another £200m,’ the ex-United and England striker said on Premier League Productions
‘How many times are Man United going to do that? “Oh, there’s a problem, let’s throw millions at it! Let’s throw more millions at it!”
‘And I know fans are desperate for big-money signings because it gets everyone excited but, unless you get the basics right, unless you’ve got a plan, unless you’ve got a system, unless you’re getting the best out of the current players, how can you them be trusted to spend another £200m?
‘It beggars belief and that’s the first thing they’ve got to get right: get the best out of the current players before you start looking into someone else’s garden.’
Owen said Solskjaer should take inspiration from the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa for the way they manage to get the best out of their players on the training ground and on matchdays.
‘It’s the bare minimum requirement, working hard, closing people down and doing the dirty work,’ he added.
‘Not everybody is like that. If you’re going to put Paul Pogba onto a pitch or [Bruno] Fernandes onto a pitch, it’s not really in their DNA to get about people, to put in crunching tackles. It’s not in their nature.
‘There’s loads of examples around the place. Look at Jurgen Klopp, look at Marcelo Bielsa, there’s so many examples of managers demanding it.’
Asked whether United’s dismal performance against Spurs comes back to the manager, Owen replied: ‘Oh yes, definitely.
‘This is something that you can’t just say: “Come on lads, today we’re gonna switch on”. This happens in training.
‘I’d hate to admit this because obviously Manchester United fans are watching this but, at Liverpool, what you see on a Saturday is absolutely what you see on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
‘When somebody loses the ball in training it’s an automatic thing.’