The Red Devils have not won the league title since 2013.
Recent years have been strange for those Manchester United supporters who have seen their team dominate the Premier League in the decades of the 1990s and 2000s and even in the early years of the current decade.
Their last league triumph came in the season of 2012-13, which was also the last season under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. With the end of that era, it seems like United’s fortunes took the worst turn possible. To put United’s success under Sir Alex into context, the club never finished outside of the top three positions in the Premier League era under the Scottish tactician.
Since then, Manchester United have struggled to match their competitors and have only finished among the top four positions twice in six attempts. A fanbase that was accustomed to glory, is struggling to come to terms with their newfound territory in the mid-table.
Therefore, we have listed the five main issues at Manchester United, that have pushed the team down from their pedestal into the gaping jaws of mid table mediocrity.
5. Lack of vision
To easily summarise this point, it must be remembered that Manchester United does not have a director of football at the club who can guide the club and provide the crucial input from behind the scenes. It is hard to grasp where the club is heading towards.
From the style of play, to the identity on and off the field, Manchester United looks lost. Especially since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. There is no long term strategy at the club and almost each and every decision made behind the scenes is reactionary rather than anticipatory. The current executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward has proved inefficient and simply said, has failed to understand the sport or the club.
Last six seasons under Ed Woodward have been a tough pill to swallow for Manchester United supporters
4. Misguided Transfers
The transfer strategy has been non-existent and the lack of vision has led to misguided and reactionary moves in the transfer market. Ed Woodward is apparently in charge of transfers and has the final say: troubling signs when a banker is taking recruitment decisions at a football club.
There is a lack of coherent structure when it comes to signings and different managers have recruited players to their liking which has resulted in a dysfunctional squad. Again, this is where a director of football should have stepped in, if he had existed in the first place at United. Too many players with a high marketable quality have been brought in who have turned out to be duds and have never suited the playing style or the league in itself. Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger to name a few.
Many fans have pointed out that the potential signing of Paulo Dybala again reeks of trying to recruit a player that will sell shirts but may not flourish in the Premier League. Signing budding talents such as Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka as well as top Premier League players such as Harry Maguire are some positive signs and the club needs to be patient with their current boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and his vision for the club.
3. The managers
The misguided transfers have been largely due to the fact that Manchester United have changed managers very frequently.
Moreover, different managers with different styles have recruited players to their liking and the players brought in by the previous manager have been rendered marooned. Jose Mourinho was an ambitious choice but his style of play was never suitable for Manchester United’s attacking philosophy.
Will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be backed by the board at Manchester United?
Solskjaer’s appointment came as a breath of fresh air but ending the last campaign with two wins in 12 fixtures exposed the apparent issues with the dysfunctional squad he was handed. After working with the players in preseason, there is more clarity with United’s style of play and approach. However, it remains a fact that Solskjaer is still an inexperienced manager and heading a gigantic club like Manchester United is a daunting task for the Norwegian.
2. The owners
The dissent towards the American owners is at an all time high among the United fanbase, especially after last season’s debacle. The Glazers family that owns the club has been accused of taking more money out of the club than invested and causing a debt in excess of £400+ million. One on hand, it may seem that the owners have allowed the club to splash huge sums of money in the market, but considering Manchester United is one of the richest clubs in the world, it is simply not enough.
Various twitter campaigns and boycott of the club app along with cancellation of subscription services have been emerging of late, with supporters trying different methods to get their message across to the owners of the club. The general feeling is that Manchester United is more concerned about sponsorships and marketing than the performances on the field, and the owners are milking the massive pull that the club has in terms of generating revenue.
1. Inability to sever ties with past glories
For Manchester United to move forward, it has to sever ties with the past. A lot has changed since their last league triumph seven years ago and it is high time that the club realises their new realities. The road back to the top is tougher than ever and the trophies will not simply be handed to United merely because they used to dominate once upon a time.
Continued failure on footballing front will lead to damages off it as well. It will become tougher to attract top talents without UEFA Champions League football to offer. Before it is too late, systematic changes need to be implemented at the club, starting from fixing the skewed wage structure and releasing the non-performers. Most importantly, fans also need to realise that the days of glory have well and truly passed and it could be a few more years of painful rebuild before the good times start to roll again.