When the good times roll in football, it’s fairly usual to think that they will last forever. When the club in question is Man United, success is almost an entitlement and even significant changes to the operational structure is simply seen as a mild inconvenience.
When Alex Ferguson was drafted in as the manager of Manchester United in 1986, the club had to start over and during his 26 years in charge, the feisty Scot won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles. Success came naturally to the manager and the club, but when Ferguson announced his retirement in 2013 many outside the club braced themselves for a bumpy road ahead.
Unfortunately those inside the club were under the illusion that normal service would be resumed, especially as the successor, David Moyes, was hand picked by the outgoing legend. Everyone, including Ferguson was wrong, one of the reasons for the continuous success and probably the biggest reason was Ferguson himself.
Seven years on and the decline has been dramatic, staggering even, as season after season, Man United started to fall from their lofty position in the Premier League. Worse still, all the qualities that United were known for disappeared and as each successive manager bought in ordinary players who were not in the United blueprint.
Gone was the desire and resilience that saw United snatch points and wins when it looked desperately unlikely. The sort of DNA that delivered success regularly and became expected as it was with Liverpool in the 80’s and Leeds in the 70’s.
The trouble was that the Glazers and Ed Woodward sat on their hands and allowed each manager artistic license in terms of running the show and each one, including Mourinho weren’t up to the job. The hierarchy believed that the formula was just to put a recognisable body in the hot seat and when ‘The Special One’ took up residency, success would be guaranteed.
That turned out to be a massive miscalculation and the end product of foggy thinking, meaning that events and circumstances got entirely out of hand. They spent significant funds to acquire success rumoured to be around £780m plus but that turned out to be nothing more than a frivolous waste on a collection of ordinary players who couldn’t believe their luck in being transferred to Man United.
The next major mistake was appointing Ole Gunner Solskjaer who hasn’t got the tools to do the job and will probably be gone in the summer. So, it’s safe to assume that arrogance and complacency have played a major part in United’s collapse. They are no longer a force to be reckoned, Old Trafford is no longer a fortress and titles are not guaranteed.
The biggest question is where do they go from here ? The road is long and starts again with the appointment of another coach and this time, Man United will be aware that throwing money at the problem isn’t the answer.