Considering their former glory and the standards and expectations that accompany it, the current status quo at Manchester United is absolutely miserable. If you look at how many points the Old Trafford outfit has taken from this stage in the season, three years running, it’s been a substantial decline.
What makes United’s current misery, in 2019-20, all the more frustrating is that this season has mostly been (quoting Paula Abdul) “two steps forward, I take two steps back.” It has not been a linear regression, which at least in theory could lead to an entire house cleaning. Instead it’s been a yo-yo (although the end result is a treadmill or hamster wheel) and that gives the people in charge a leg to stand on when it comes to retaining same leadership.
United vs Tranmere Rovers FA Cup 4th Round Match Preview/United transfer update: go to this link
United Starting XI Prediction vs Tranmere Rovers FA Cup 4th Round: go to this link
Wednesday night saw United lose to Burnley, who were hovering just above the relegation zone, at home for the first time since 1962. Fans are leaving home games early in droves, with both pundits and fans are calling for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal. Reports indicate his job is still pretty safe.
So what is the official party line in regards to a plan moving forward?
“For me we do have a way of doing things,” Solskjaer said today about the club’s current agenda of signing young, promising players and staying patient.
“Of course you can see other teams have done well. You can see Jurgen [Klopp] has spent four years building his team and they’re doing well now, so of course I’ve said it so many times, it’s not going to be a quick fix.”
“It’s not going to be eight players in, or 10 players in, in one transfer window. We’ve had one transfer window, a proper one, in the summer, because Januarys are difficult, but we are still trying to do something now.”
Yes, it is true that we’re starting to see some kind of identity now in the transfer market- signing young English internationals. Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are three examples, and yes, they are trying to feature and develop their youth, like Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood too.
However, it’s just not working because you still have a roster made of players that were acquired under different managers for the purpose of playing the style that the manager at that time preferred. Thus, the roster is disjointed and uneven.
Instead they find a true Football Director, or as some clubs would call it, a Technical Director. They have supposedly been looking to do this for over a year. The fact that nothing has happened on this front conveys they don’t seem to be all too serious about it.
This isn’t anything that other people have already said; many times. Ed Woodward, the club’s CEO, is the problem, because he just has too much power. Again this is not a revolutionary idea, it’s something that we’ve even said before, many times. When you have an investment banker making football decisions, this is what you get.
He’s brilliant for the sponsorship, partnership and branding side of things, but he needs to stay in that lane. The Glazers need to let someone else build a roster, forge a legitimate identity and build around and recruit to that identity.
The Glazers just don’t seem to care about that idea though. Not while the club still keeps raking in the cash anyway.
Although United have done nothing this window, and their last summer window of the Jose Mourinho era was laughably bad, they have still spent a lot of money. It’s just been wasteful spending. And there is no escape from this mediocrity, until they figure this less-than-groundbreaking idea out.
Other media pundits put forth these same talking points all the time. Other clubs actually execute this plan as they lay the foundation for a rebuild.
They moved General Manager Nelson Rodriguez into a role that keeps him focused on the business and commercial side of things. Then they hired Georg Heitz as Sporting Director.
While at FC Basel, Heitz identified and developed numerous top players in collaboration with the club’s scouting and technical staff, including Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) and Granit Xhaka (Arsenal). The Fire then brought in Heitz’s countryman, Raphael Wicky, to be the new head coach.
The Fire’s journey is just beginning, and we’ll see how it goes, but hey, at least it’s a well-defined, logical on paper kind of plan.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.