The Red Devils will now go without a trophy for the fifth consecutive season, meaning massive changes could be made on and off the field this summer

“It’s another bad year for us.”

David de Gea’s reaction after Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid at the first knockout stage could have been copied and pasted from most of the last decade.

A Europa League triumph under Jose Mourinho in 2017 represents the best of United’s efforts in Europe over the last 10 years, their last trophy win of any kind now five seasons ago.

For a club which still proclaims itself as one of the biggest in the world, that simply is not good enough.

“Youre right, too many years without any trophies, we are fighting for trophies,” De Gea continued.

“So I think we need to be clear, we want to achieve good things and fight for trophies. We dont just want to play for the top four and be there, get out of the Champions League at the quarter-final.

“So we need much more from everyone, because this club is too big for where we are now. We are far from fighting for the Premier League and Champions League. We need much more from everyone.”

So where do United go from here?

Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, who both know exactly what it takes to win the Champions League for United, have spoken of the need for a “reset” in the summer while on punditry duties.

That button has been pressed so many times since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, though, that it is in danger of becoming stuck.

They have tried the Ferguson-recommended managerial replacement in David Moyes, the well-respected Louis van Gaal, a serial winner in Jose Mourinho and the former player who gets the club in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer; no one has managed to get United back to where they want to be.

“I really believe Man United will be back, I’m sure – I don’t know when but it’s definitely going to happen,” said De Gea.

At this stage you would have to admire his optimism.

The top four, and with it re-qualification to the Champions League, looks extremely unlikely. Arsenal are sitting a point ahead of Ralf Rangnick’s side with three games in hand, and that brings its own problems.

Cristiano Ronaldo has divided opinion since coming back to Old Trafford, but his goal return in Europe was the only reason United were in knockout action at all on Tuesday. He has also won them vital points in the Premier League.

He is unlikely, however, to hang around and ply his trade in the Europa League or, even worse, the Europa Conference League, so the club will likely have to find a replacement for his goals.

This summer is set to be another important one in the post-Ferguson era. Big signings are needed and, most importantly, a new manager.

The difficulty for new CEO Richard Arnold and his transfer team is that they will not be able to dangle a lucrative Champions League carrot in front of prospective employees.

The Manchester United badge is no longer enough to get big-name players to join and, with little evidence of progress this season, it could be a tough window for the club’s hierarchy.

And they do need to spend.

The squad needs an overhaul, but with a £1.4 billion ($1.8bn) spend over the last 10 years, and little to show for it, there must be a rethink in strategy, as well as personnel.

Paul Pogba is set to leave on a free transfer, Ronaldo will not hang around if there is no Champions League football, Edinson Cavani will depart and there are plenty of other squad players whose futures are up in the air.

That list now includes Marcus Rashford, whose form is in a state of decline which shows no sign of abating.

This is not a team who just need a couple of signings to finish off a rebuild; they need major investment, a new manager and a new direction.

Their top two managerial targets for the permanent manager’s job are Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag – both of whom also saw their teams, Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax, respectively, eliminated from the Champions League at the last 16 stage.

There still remains the question of whether either of them could get United back to where they need to be.

Scholes does not believe that the next manager will make a difference immediately because of the current state of the club.

“It will take at least two, three or four years until they’re challenging, and I’d snap your hand off for that now,” the former United midfielder said on BT Sport.

“You saw [Manchester] City and Liverpool for a couple of years, you felt them coming. You knew they were coming and getting better and that they’d start challenging.

“We’ve not had that for 10 years, and there’s no sign of it even getting closer to that. It feels like we’re going in the opposite direction.

“It’s going to take the right man, and the next man might not be the right man, those people need to make sure it’s the right man.”

The defeat to Atletico has not triggered a knee-jerk reaction from these former players. The performance on Tuesday was a culmination of a season’s worth of disappointments, which has seen the club out of all competitions before the end of March.

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