Sir Jim Ratcliffe might need to help Manchester United replace five players they spent £300m on – George Smith

Two goals from Erling Haaland and one from Phil Foden sealed a routine win for City, who must have marched back across town confident that their dominance in Manchester is not ending anytime soon. They were a class above in every department, knocking the ball around in the second half with such ease and precision.

United highlighted the size of the gulf between ahead of kick-off, starting with Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire in the heart of their defence. That in itself highlights just how far the Reds have fallen behind their rivals since Sir Alex Ferguson&aposs retirement.

Though it was manager Erik ten Hag&aposs decision to select Evans ahead of Raphael Varane at centre-back, it was another reminder of how mismanagement at the very top has contributed to United&aposs decline. As City continue to regularly hit the target in the transfer market, United continue to miss.

The Reds&apos outlook on recruitment, in terms of both arrivals and departures, has been a major contributor to their demise under the Glazers. They have paid over the odds for countless players and have failed to offload others at the right junctures.

With that said, should Sir Jim Ratcliffe secure a 25 per cent stake in the club and, as has been widely reported, oversee football operations, he will be under immense pressure to make up for the mistakes of yesteryear and help the club learn valuable lessons. They cannot afford to repeat similar failings.

Of all the new signings United have made in recent years, very few of them have turned out to be successful, once again highlighting the club&aposs tendency to miss rather than hit. They have spent north of 400million in their first three transfer windows under Ten Hag, spending big-money on the likes of Andre Onana, Lisandro Martinez, Mason Mount, Rasmus Hojlund, Antony and Casemiro.

Though Martinez and Casemiro excelled in their debut seasons at Old Trafford last term, the latter has regressed at a considerable rate so far this season. He played 51 times for United last season, regularly featuring in games where he would have benefitted from a breather.

That appears to have caught up with him already this season, and it is quite clear, though he remains an outstanding player when at the peak of his powers, that he is only going to decline from here on in. He turns 32 in February.

Signing him on a long-term deal, as good as he was last season, made little sense, and United are never going to be able to recoup anywhere close to the 60m they initially invested in his signature. The same can be said for Raphael Varane, who will turn 31 next year.

He, like his former Real Madrid teammate, is a classy operator when at his best, but is injury-prone, meaning Ten Hag can&apost rely on him. United will have to replace him in the not-too-distant future with a younger operator, who can become Martinez&aposs long-term partner.

While Casemiro and Varane are two players within the squad who are now seemingly past their respective peaks, there are others within the squad that need to be moved on, simply because they do not have long-term futures at the club. Maguire, who was an 80m acquisition from Leicester City in 2019, is not a guaranteed starter, and he has failed to ever justify his price tag.

Despite a recent upturn in performance levels, he is unlikely to ever be considered as a key player for Ten Hag. United pushed hard to offload him in the summer, of course.

When the time comes for him to move on, however, United will still need a replacement, preferably someone with room for growth and a high ceiling, who would be happy to initially bide their time as a rotational option, ahead of becoming a regular starter. The Reds have needed better quality in the reserve trench for some time.

At the other end of the field, Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho are two players who are unlikely to ever have a prominent role at United again. Van de Beek, who joined the Reds from Ajax in 2020, has been one of the club&aposs biggest-ever flops, whereas Sancho is not far behind his teammate in that category.