Manchester United – one of the biggest football clubs in the World is on the verge of becoming a Falling Giant.
The most winning club in term of titles has become one of the most average team in the English Premier League.
Sunday’s defeat to a Newcastle team, who lost five nill to Leicester a week before, is a clear sign of decline.
With this defeat, United have played eight games in the League, and apart from the first game of the season against Chelsea they have failed to score more than one goal in any other game so far.
Established in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR. The club joined First Division in 1892-93 season but got relegated to Division 2 two seasons later. The club was in ‘heavy’ debt by the end of the century. In January 1902, with a debt of £2670, the club was on verge of closure. Five local businessmen led by John Henry Davies saved the club and changed its name to Manchester United in April 1902.
United won the first-ever league title in 1908 and the following season first ever FA Cup. United won the league title for the second time in 1911. Unfortunately, this was the end of success before World War II. Manchester United – The Falling Giant
Matt Busby Era
Football resumed after World War 2 and Matt Busby was installed as the Manager of Manchester United.
Busby managed to create one of the most successful eras in the history of Manchester United.
He was able to build a team of exciting talent, who was thought to be the best at the time. And a team, who can finally challenge the Spanish Giant Real Madrid in European Champions League – it was not to be. An Air Crash destroyed the team in Munich in 1958, where eight members of the young, exciting squad died.
Coming back from injuries, Matt Busby started rebuilding the team. He created a team, which went on to one success after another, won five league titles and culminated in by winning the 1968 European Champions League final. Players like Bobby Charlton, Georg Best, Dennis Law, Brian Kidd and others were one of the finest players in the League.
Unfortunately, this rise was to be the beginning of a gruesome ending. Matt Busby was retired, and after some seasons of indifferent results under different managers, United got relegated to the Second Division.
Then came the long barren period of 27 years without a League success. Several second positions in the League were achieved but never won the League again.
Alex Ferguson Era
In 1986 Manchester United appointed Alex Ferguson, who was a successful manager at Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League. At Aberdeen, Ferguson had broken the status quo of Glasgow clubs, Celtic and Rangers, by winning the league title. Manchester United – The Falling Giant
He then went on to beat the Spanish Giant Real Madrid in a European Cup final in Malmo. Aberdeen was on a high.
That was enough for the United board to be convinced, and they hired Ferguson to lead United’s charge against the dominant teams from City of Liverpool, Everton and Liverpool.
It took Fergusson six years to build a team, which was tough enough to make a severe challenge for the title.
During this time, Ferguson had a lot of problems at United: Aging players. Underperforming players. Players with egos and attitude. Players of low quality. The pressure of the press.
He brought quality players like Bruce, Irwin, Pallister, Ince, McClair and Sharpe. He even brought Hughes, who was sold to Barcelona in the previous regime, back to Old Trafford. With these quality additions, a foundation for success was laid.
Ferguson believed in Youth. He appointed Eric Harrison to lead the team, who will work with youth development.
His struggle paid off! United won the first-ever Premier League in 1993 – first title for 27 years!
This victory in the League was to be the start of an unimaginable dominance of Premier League.
The talent, which the club was producing under Eric Harrison and his team, was showing the vast promises.
United successfully defended the title in 1994. Ferguson always had an eye for the betterment of his squad.
He brought the most talked-about midfielder in Premier League, Roy Keane from Nottingham Forest. And as that was a huge achievement, he broke the bankbooks by signing Andrew Cole in Januar 1995 from Newcastle.
United and Blackburn fought for the title that year, and in the penultimate game of the season, where Blackburn lost to Liverpool, United HAD to win at West Ham to win the title for the third year running. It was not to be, and United drew at West Ham, which handed the title to Blackburn.
In preparation for the 1995-96 season, in a sensational move, Ferguson let three of his best players go. In the space of a week, Paul Ince went to Inter, Andrei Kanchelskis to Everton, and Mark Hughes to Chelsea. All three were the backbone of United’s success.
Instead, he made a stunning decision by throwing the Youngsters on the field to face the tough challenge of Premier League – a decision, which was made hoax of by former Liverpool legend, Allan Hansen.
Youngsters like David Beckham, Nickey Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville led by Ryan Giggs and guided by experienced players like Brian McClair, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin, Peter Schmeichel and especially Eric Cantona as well as Roy Keane and Andy Cole took the Premier League by storm. United won the double: FA Cup and Premier League title.
These youngsters were from a different class. Ferguson believed them, and they paid back. United’s dominance was about to begin.
Ferguson had a perfect knowledge of when to replace which player. He even let Beckham go. And brought in Ronaldo – made him the Best Footballer in the World. He brought in top-class players like Jaap Stam, Henning Berg, Dwight York, Ronni Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Nani and Nemanja Vidic to name few of them. Not to forget the best sub – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
From 1993 to 2012 – in 19 seasons, United won 13 league titles. Never ended below a third position in the League. Also won two European Cups. Several other Cup Tournaments.
Power Struggle and Rebuild
BSkyB tried to acquire Manchester United Football Club in 1998. It was a failed attempt.
A power struggle emerged between Alex Ferguson and then owner John Magnier and J. P. McManus about the racehorse Rock of Gibraltar. Ferguson’s answer was a clear message: “I will walk out of Man United”.
In 2005 an American business family with name Glazers bought the club. There was a massive disturbance in this overtake. Many fans were unhappy, and even some went on to create a new Football team called, FC United of Manchester.
Ferguson went on to build a new United team, which dominated for the next many years.
Ferguson was feeling the age. He decided to retire from Football and at the end of season 2012-13 – as a Champions!
Post Fergie Era
Chosen one and CEO
What Ferguson did for United was enough for him to chose his successor. At the time, there was no better choice than Everton’s David Moyes, who with a minimal budget available, had created miracles at Everton. He brought stability to them and an entertaining way of playing.
At the same time, United appointed a new CEO – Ed Woodward.
Ed Woodward is a hugely successful banker coming into Footballing World. Unfortunately, his knowledge of Football stinks.
There is a little doubt that the team Moyes inherited from Ferguson was a champion team – but an ageing-, underperforming- and slowing team! The team was showing these signs already under Ferguson. Moyes needed refreshment.
Several prominent names like Tony Kroos, Ander Herrera, Falcao, Thomas Muller and even Harry Maguire was named. But Woodward jeopardised the first-ever Transfer Window after Ferguson. None of these players joined United and as a panic buy United bought Fellaini hours before the end of the Transfer Window.
Regardless of the transfers, the biggest issue was the lengthy injury to Robin van Persie. United suffered in his absence. And things were not being gentle to Moyes as a Media-created scandal between Moyes and Rooney was hitting the back pages of the tabloids.
Juan Mata was brought in January-window. But performance on the field was getting worse. In the end, it led to Moyes’ departure four games before the end of the season! Only ten months in charge. Not a way of dealing with managers at a club like Manchester United. Worse was to come.
Louis van Gaal
Woodward hired Louis van Gaal in 2014.
Louis van Gaal had a successful World Cup with Holland, as the Dutch team finished in the third position in the tournament ahead of host Brazil.
To boost the squad, United was quite active in the Summer Transfer Window. Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Falcao arrived at Old Trafford. Having a strong squad, Louis van Gaal had all the requirements to bolster United’s title challenges. United got a top-four place and was back in Champions League. But on and off the field, significant issues were rising. The attitude of top players like Angel Di Maria was causing problems.
Van Gaal’s negative approach was damaging the confidence of players. United was playing defensive Football with attacking players – a fatal combination. Although a top-four position was achieved, Football on the field was as negative as it could be.
Di Maria effect
Di Maria’s attitude took its toll as he never returned to report for Pre-season training the following season. He even asked fellow countryman Marcos Rojo to do the same. The later apologised for his absence.
In the following season 15/16, Di Maria left for PSG. He never wanted to join United and had publically said he wanted a move to PSG while at Real Madrid. You should NEVER force a player to join a club he doesn’t want to join!
Some prominent youngsters like Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay along with Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian and Bastian Schweinsteiger joined United. The game on the field was even worse. United never looked liked to be a serious contender for top-four. The season ended in disaster — a painful exit in the second round of Champions League. A shambolic defeat in the third round of League Cup followed by a fifth-placed finish in the League. But the season ended in a high as United won the FA Cup.
Then came one of the most embarrassing moment for Machester United club. Hours after winning the FA Cup, Ed Woodward dismissed Louis van Gaal.
Jose Mourinho replaced him. Although one of the most successful managers in the game, Mourinho left Chelsea in mysterious circumstances. One of the most scandal-hit, most self-centred and one of the most provoked manager.
United had another huge Transfer Window. They brought back Paul Pogba, who had left in 2012-13 season. With all respect to Ferguson, this was one of the biggest mistakes Ferguson made in his managerial career when he couldn’t pursue Pogba to remain at Old Trafford. Pogba was the most significant talent United had produced since the Fergie’s Fledglings. But Ferguson never trusted him in midfield and instead pursued Paul Scholes to come out of retirement to take control of midfield.
United paid a record transfer fees for a player when they brought Pogba back from Juventus for £80m. In other transfers that season Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eric Bailly and the big gun Zlatan Ibrahimovic was brought to the club. Zlatan on a free transfer.
The season 2016-17 under Mourinho wasn’t a success at all regardless United won the Uefa Europa Liga. The only trophy United had never won previously. But the game on the field was not exciting at all.
Having won the Uefa Europa Liga, United went into the Uefa Champions Leauge the following season regardless ending at the fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
Record Fee – once again
In preparation to the 2017-18 season, United smashed another record fees for a player, when they paid ca. £90m for Romelu Lukaku from Everton. Other signings were Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and another big-name Alexis Sanchez. Wayne Rooney left the club after almost fourteen highly successful years at the club. For some – the last true United legend had waved goodbye!
Several factors culminated in one of the weakest seasons in recent history although United ended up at the second position in the League. The manager, Mourinho, was at the centre of a lot of on and off the field criticism. Football under Mourinho was branded as ‘Park-the-bus’. No creativity, efficiency or commitment was shown on the field. Nothing worth of being Manchester United.
Woodward showed full support to Mourinho. New arrivals in the 2018-19 season were Brazilian Fred for £50m, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant as cover-up ‘keeper. Blind and Fellaini left the club.
The performance was nothing less than shambolic! The players were underperforming. The tactics of manager Mourinho were negative. The complete complex around the club was suffering badly. Nothing was working in the right way, and it was hard to see what direction the club is going to. It was not like what we know about United. The club had lost its image. After seventeen games into the 2018-19 season, Mourinho was sacked.
Everyone was looking for the right decision – the right man to replace Jose. Expectations were massive from Woodward. But it turned out to be a decision, which took the entire Football World by surprise! Manchester United – The Falling Giant
By quoting: “We are looking for a candidate, who is ‘our own'” the United board led by Ed Woodward named Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager of Manchester United.
A True Legend
Ole Gunnar will go into record books at Old Trafford as a true legend. The goal-scoring machine, who always was a third or fourth choice striker at Old Trafford. He was such a gentleman that he NEVER expressed unhappiness about not being picked up as the main striker. Ole Gunnar scored the all-important goal in the Champions League Final in 1999. He came on as a sub to score in dying seconds of the game. He will remain as a legend at the club.
But as a manager? Manchester United – The Falling Giant
Cardiff City hired him as a manager in January 2014 but lasted only eight months in charge as Cardiff first was relegated from Premier League, then struggled in the Premiership. He went back to Molde, where he had success as manager by winning the Norwegian League in 2011 and 2012.
Certainly not a CV any top-class club will be looking for while choosing a manager. So being appointed by Manchester United – one of the biggest club in the World – was nothing than a huge shock.
The decision seemed to be a joker in the beginning, when United suddenly changed the entire complex!
Ole Gunnar took charge as temporary manager – coincidently against Cardiff City on 22. December 2018, which United won 5-1.
From that point and until March the 2nd 2019, United had played 12 games in Premier League winning ten of them! Nothing that we had seen in recent years.
The club honoured him with a permanent contract after that run. Manchester United – The Falling Giant
End of Honeymoon?
Unfortunately, that was an end to the honeymoon period as well. United was dumped out of Champions League after managerial mistakes by Ole Gunnar and lost in FA Cup Quarter Finals. In the Premier League run-in, the final nine games were disastrous. United only won two, losing five and drawing the remaining two.
Many of the games were lost because of the managerial inexperience, tactical blunders and wrong changes of personals at the wrong time.
The quality of the players in the squad was pathetically poor! Manchester United – The Falling Giant
The board showed confidence in Ole Gunnar and the summer Transfer Window of 2019-20 season was promising. The club finally bought Harry Maguire for a record fee for a defender of £80m. Another top-class right back in Aaron Wan-Bissaka was brought in along with a promising youngster Daniel James.
The 2019-20 season started as a thunderstriking! United thrashed one of its main rivals Chelsea in the opening game of the season with a thumping four-goal victory.
Unfortunately, that is so far the end of excitement. United is suffering heavily with inconsistent displays. Players are under-performing, and once again, the team is showing the weakness of being a sub-quality team. Lack in depth of the squad is hurting badly. There is absolutely no quality in the squad. Not a single player is playing like a World Class player – the closest we are is the goalie David De Gea and Paul Pogba – then Pogba is too moody!
United have spent a staggering £900m on new players since 2013. About 30 players have signed. Not a single player of these 30 have shown the true quality or dominance.
None of the thirty players signed was playing as a true Man United-player! Quality differed in all aspects. Players, who didn’t want to play for United were forced in – I will personally never buy Di Maria and Pogba!
The main reason for United’s downfall is the board! Since Ferguson left, almost every decision the new board has made has turned out to be the wrong one. Right from dispatching Moyes without giving him a proper chance to hiring outdated and burnt-out managers like Louis van Gaal and Mourinho to the inexperience and dummy of a manager in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Sympathy and Facts
I have all the sympathy for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is made a scapegoat! Manchester United – The Falling Giant
Woodward had other priorities as the Woman’s Team also turned professional in 2018! The available money is divided. He had to manage to silent all parties.
He hired a man with no charisma, charm, credibility or ability to manage a club like Manchester United, but who is just a puppet. United under him is just a Cardiff Team of Richer clubs!
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is made a jack-ass in the big boys game of Money. They wanted a puppet manager, who does not have any control of team management. He does what is told him to do so. Otherwise, if OGS had the smallest love for this club, he would have walked-out, when Woodward was selling the players and had left a squad of dummies and deadwood. Everyone can see this United squad is the weakest, the worst and the thinnest squad in recent history – cannot complete at any level! How on earth can OGS go along with this squad?
Root Cause and Remedy
A simple fact shows that, since the creation of Premier League in 1992-93 season to the end of 2012-13 season, United have ended no lower than third! Since the appointment of Ed Woodward as CEO, United have finished in top-four only once!
When you spend £900m and you cannot produce results, then you have an issue! Woodward IS the issue at United. His decision-making power in football is bad.
He needs to remove himself as the footballing CEO, appoint a Director of Football and a better Manager. Expand, revise and better the talent-hunting Network. It is as bad as you can get it. We have NEVER had a top-class Italian, German, Brazilian playing for our club!
Truth is, Ed Woodward has managed to make several disastrous decisions and made serious mistakes but cannot redeem them. He keeps making mistakes and wrong decisions, but the ego is not letting him accept them. He has singlehandedly destroyed United!
I would go for a tough, moderne thinking manager like Ancelotti, Conte, Blanc or even Raineri. I would make Edwin van der Saar as Director of Football and give him all the control of team transfers and matters. For me, there are so many average players at Old Trafford: Lingard, Young, Bailly, Matic, Mata, Fred all should leave. I also believe Rashford and Martial should start on the bench. United needs a minimum of 8 new players over the next two Transfer Windows.
At the time of this blog (October 18, 2019), United are only two-point of relegation coming up against league leaders Liverpool on Sunday!
Tough times – is the history repeating itself?