Erik ten Hag says Manchester United must invest if they want to remain in the top four of the Premier League.
Ten Hag has taken United back into the Champions League at the first time of asking, while also winning the Carabao Cup and setting up an FA Cup final against Manchester City.
But the manager was limited to just three loan signings in the January transfer window and, after beating Fulham 2-1 on the final day of the season, United have finished the campaign 14 points behind champions City.
Speaking after the Premier League season came to an end, Ten Hag said: “The club knows that if you want to play top four, if you want to compete for trophies in this tough league, you have to invest, otherwise you won’t progress because other clubs will.
“We saw it in the winter. All the clubs around us invested. We didn’t and still we made it. So I am really happy and proud of my team.”
United were one of just five Premier League sides not to spend in January, and the only one of those clubs that ended the campaign in the European places.
Ten Hag was supported in his first window, with more than £225m spent on six new players, including Antony, who cost £86m when being signed from the manager’s former club Ajax.
Ten Hag’s comments come amid uncertainty over who will be United’s owners going forward, with the Glazer family – who have owned the club since 2005 – entertaining offers.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatari businessman, are the two parties keen on completing a takeover, which could cost more than £5bn.
Speaking to Sky Sports earlier this week, Ten Hag said United would be able to move for their key transfer targets this summer if there was no change in the ownership situation.
Ten Hag said: “I think so. I came in here [at the end of] last season and we talked about what can we do in the squad, what can we do in transfers.
“Last year, the club confirmed they can do. So, for me, I don’t think anything changed and yes, in this summer period we can do the same.”