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INEOS must sell two Manchester United players if they’re serious about this project



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INEOS expected to do a lot of work at Manchester United when they took charge, but they are now likely realising that there will need to be even more.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Sir Dave Brailsford, Jean-Claude Blanc, Omar Berrada, Dan Ashworth, and Jason Wilcox. This is supposed to be the team that saves Manchester United.

It’s just a shame that our favourite team isn’t the one that steps foot onto the pitch. Instead, 11 footballers and one manager made everybody’s Bank Holiday Monday evening extremely bitter.

Crystal Palace won 4-0 against United at Selhurst Park. And I don’t know what’s worse. That fans had such little expectations going into the game, or that the team managed to supersede those expectations with an even worse performance.

Erik ten Hag – like an action-man toy with only so many voice prompts – expectedly placed blame on the injury crisis at the club after the defeat. “At the end of the day, I have to do it with the players that are available. All season we have had huge problems,” he said.

There is certainly an argument that five injured centre-backs and one defender playing after failing a fitness test is less than ideal. Yet, we can only make so many excuses before facing reality.

Ultimately, this result could’ve happened to Ten Hag’s side at least 10-15 times this season. In the Premier League alone, there have been 21 occasions where United’s opposition have registered the same or more expected goals (xG) which Crystal Palace managed (1.5) on Monday evening.

INEOS have a hugely important summer transfer window ahead of them, and departures are going to be a key component of that.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has previously marvelled at the work done at Arsenal with Mikel Arteta, but irrespective of the manager at the Emirates, they made tough and brave decisions in the transfer market and INEOS will need to do the same.

The biggest test and challenge comes through two players who signed for the Old Trafford club for a combined £155 million fee.

Antony (£85 million) and Casemiro (£70 million) joined the club in the late stages of the summer transfer window in 2023, and their signings – at least on the surface – are examples of everything that was wrong under the Glazer regime.

Take away the players, who both performed comically badly against Crystal Palace, for one minute. Two big-money signings were made. Not at the start of the summer. Not mid-way through pre-season. After the club lost the first two games of the season against Brighton and Brentford, with one being a similar 4-0 drubbing to the one at Selhurst Park.

United splashed the cash on Antony, who would’ve been available for half the price earlier in the summer. Even £40 million would’ve been too much, however.

Meanwhile, the Casemiro signing just stank of Ed Woodward. A five-year deal on huge wages for a player that most United fans believed they would only get two to three good years out of. Instead, it was just the one.

Don’t get me wrong. We all got caught up in the Casemiro hype. He was part of one of the most iconic midfield trios in the history of the game and won five Champions Leagues. It wasn’t like he was 37, either. The Brazilian had only turned 30 midway through the previous season, a season in which he was the Man of the Match in the Champions League final.

Yet, as fans, we are not expected to be the scouts, sporting directors, owners or managers. We are allowed to get overexcited about things that probably shouldn’t be celebrated that much. Casemiro’s first season was excellent, and we were asking Real Madrid for Toni Kroos or Luka Modric next. Note to self: If Madrid are willing to sell, then there’s probably a reason.

Now, you finally talk about player quality. And that’s where it gets even more depressing.

Antony is perhaps one of the worst signings in the club’s history. Many would argue the worst. Yet, it was the Brazilian who screamed at Alejandro Garnacho for making a run that Antony could not find with a pass. It was also Antony who appeared to be “bitching” about someone or another when speaking to Mason Mount after full-time on Monday.

And before you say, come on, we all know what bitching looks like.

This is a player who scored his only Premier League goal of the season at the end of April, in a game where United drew 1-1 against a relegation-destined Burnley side, and then posted on his Instagram story five days later with a “Throwback Thursday” to that goal.

The arrogance and shamelessness that get thrown towards Marcus Rashdord all seem to apply to the £85 million man, who somehow escapes similar criticism despite doing less than one per cent of the work at the club as the Academy graduate.

Meanwhile, Casemiro’s case is a sadder state of affairs. While he was truly awful against Palace, and for most of the season, I think Jamie Carragher summed it up perfectly. “Leave the football before the football leaves you. The football has left him at the top level,” the Sky Sports pundit said.

United have certainly not made it easy for Casemiro, who is expected to cover a ridiculous amount of distance in the midfield and have more on-ball responsibility than he ever had in Spain. However, there is a clear and stark contrast between his own play from last season, and a move seems necessary for him and the club.

You have two players at the opposite ends of the scale. A young and supposedly talented forward and a proven winner. Both have turned out to be terrible signings for the club.

Casemiro’s sale is more likely this summer, but if INEOS are serious about making the tough decisions, they must also take the hit on Antony.

And that is only the start of the work they will have to do at Old Trafford if they really want things to turn around.