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What next for Manchester United as they play out another trophyless season?

Ralf Rangnick’s side were dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid on Tuesday evening.

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Manchester United are out of the Champions League (PA)

Manchester United are out of the Champions League (PA)

Manchester United are out of the Champions League (PA)

Manchester United will end a fifth successive season without a trophy as the club find themselves at yet another crossroads.

Hopes of lifting the Champions League always looked faint and their failure to land a glove on Atletico Madrid saw them meekly tumble out at the round-of-16 stage on Tuesday evening.

The 1-0 loss at Old Trafford made it a 2-1 aggregate defeat that only highlighted the work required this summer – a situation that the PA news agency has taken a look at.

What has the season looked like for United?

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Manchester United traipse off following Tuesday’s Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester United traipse off following Tuesday’s Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester United traipse off following Tuesday’s Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid (Martin Rickett/PA)

Having finished as Premier League runners-up and lost the Europa League final on penalties, hope of further progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fuelled by the summer acquisitions of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. But they were out of the Carabao Cup in September then humbled on home soil by Liverpool and Manchester City, with the 4-1 loss at Watford leading to Solskjaer’s exit in November. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick has only lost two Premier League games but there have been too many draws and disjointed displays, plus they are out of the FA Cup and Champions League.

Where does this leave United?

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Ralf Rangnick’s side face an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ralf Rangnick’s side face an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ralf Rangnick’s side face an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

The club have now won just two Champions League knockout matches in the last decade – a period in which their gross transfer spend is reported to be £1.4billion. United currently look unlikely to even qualify for next year’s competition as Rangnick’s Jekyll and Hyde outfit fifth in the standings, a point behind an Arsenal side that boast three games in hand. Unless performances improve, the club could even slip into the Europa Conference League or miss out on European football for the first time since they finished seventh in 2013-14.

Where do the issues start?

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Ed Woodward left Manchester United in February, when Richard Arnold became chief executive (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ed Woodward left Manchester United in February, when Richard Arnold became chief executive (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ed Woodward left Manchester United in February, when Richard Arnold became chief executive (Martin Rickett/PA)

There are far too many frayed edges for people to work effectively across many departments at United and that starts from the top. The ownership of the Glazer family has seen the club flounder and Ed Woodward made a number of poor decisions during his time as executive vice-chairman, which ended last month. Richard Arnold has stepped up to chief executive and has to turn this giant ship around before it falls any lower.

How about some consistency in the dugout?

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Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax manager Erik ten Hag are admired by Manchester United (Mike Egerton/PA)

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax manager Erik ten Hag are admired by Manchester United (Mike Egerton/PA)

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax manager Erik ten Hag are admired by Manchester United (Mike Egerton/PA)

The fact a club of United’s stature went for an interim appointment in November says everything about the long-term planning at a club whose interest in Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Paris St Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is well documented. Thomas Tuchel’s name has also been mentioned since issues at Chelsea began to brew. Football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher want to make an appointment before the summer to provide a foundation to build on.

How is the squad looking?

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Manchester United’s squad will change this summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester United’s squad will change this summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester United’s squad will change this summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

Bloated and unbalanced, with individual talents yet again failing to knit together. Paul Pogba, a man United made the most expensive player ever in 2016, looks set to leave on a free transfer this summer, when Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are also out of contract. Players like Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford are performing well below their best, while Ronaldo is wondering what he has returned to. They need to strengthen in central midfield and attack, among other areas, while trying to ship some players that are not good enough.

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