The summer transfer window – time for a change, time for preparation, time to reset and rebuild. This season, like every other, Manchester United need wholesale changes both on and off the pitch. After a horrid season, there needs to be an intense retrospection at the club. The issues need to be analysed and traced at every step.
The fans are fuming: they have every right to be. Some are adamant that the board needs to change, others believe it’s down to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team of Kieran McKenna, Michael Carrick, and Mick Phelan, whereas the others believe that the players are the ones at fault. No matter what your point of view is, we can all agree that the club needs changes on all fronts.
Manchester United’s problems are like a hose pipe with holes at a lot of places – closing one gap is not going to change anything. Since Sir Alex Ferguson has left, there have been plenty of gaps not only in the squad but in the way the club has been running in general. Blame needs to be apportioned over the whole spectrum. Today I’ll break down the entire hierarchy of the club and look at what each level of the hierarchy is lacking and what the club needs to do to improve on it.
The Players –
|Image Source: Team Talk|
Gone are the days when players like Rooney, Evra, Neville (I want to name so many more) etc. used to give it their all on the pitch. Their only motivation – the badge on the front of the shirt. Just seeing these players in the tunnel filled the opponents with fear. They knew what it meant to play for Manchester United and fought like warriors on the pitch. These were real champions and winners and the opponents knew they had to produce something spectacular to get a result from us.
The club is majorly lacking these type of players now. The last player who had that attitude is leaving for PSG, on a free. Now mid-table clubs look at our team in the tunnel and feel confident about themselves. Now when the team needs inspiration, they look around at each other. There’s no one to take responsibility. This is job is usually down to the captain and our captain is beyond a joke. That’s why we absolutely need a leader in the dressing room, along with 5 other players!
What needs to change?
Every single player who does not care about the club needs to leave. As simple as that. It sounds very vague and possibly impractical but that’s how it should be. It is okay to leave the club and go elsewhere if a better offer comes or if it’s your dream club like Cristiano Ronaldo did, but while you’re at the club you are supposed to give one hundred percent and nothing less.
Players of the past loved and respected the club which clearly reflected on the pitch. All the last-minute goals under Ferguson came because of the players’ will and their refusal to give up. Just imagine where we would be without all those injury-time winners. Do you think our players would put in a shift like that? Absolutely not.
The Managerial Staff –
|Image Source: The Telegraph|
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in, things looked much better. Our winning streak papered over a lot of cracks and eventually, that got exposed. Now, I am still Ole in but two wins in twelve games are absolutely abysmal for a team of, with all due respect, Crystal Palace’s stature, let alone ours.
The jury is still out on Solskjaer and a lot of the fans are still on his side. However, he does not do himself any favours by starting players like Jones, Young, and Lingard week in week out. These are players who are clearly far away from the quality we demand at Manchester United but somehow they find themselves in the team-sheet. Granted there aren’t many options but frankly, the fans would have rather seen us struggle trying something new than watch us struggle with the known demons.
Next up, towards the end of the season, we lost to the likes of Cardiff which was embarrassing. We were leaking goals and barren upfront. This is clearly a tactical flaw because even though we aren’t a great squad, we should be beating the bottom half teams with ease.
What needs to change?
Sacking Solskjaer isn’t the answer as that’s another get out of jail card for Woodward and co. Instead, we need to back him. Every manager has a plan and a vision and it is the club’s job to fulfil that. We need to provide Ole with the tools and even then if he doesn’t deliver, we can hold him culpable. But it makes no sense to want him out without giving him a chance. This window, we need to sign the players that he wants and let him build a squad that he sees fit.
What I do want to see from him is some more ruthlessness. He needs to get a lot of players off the wage bill. Players like Lingard and Young need to as far away from the team as possible. There are so many players stealing a living at United and that needs to stop. Solskjaer’s recruiting has to be spot on and he needs to strengthen key areas of the squad.
The Board and Owners –
|Image Source: Independent.ie|
Most of the fans are unhappy with this aspect of the club. So let me start by giving credit where it’s due. Ed Woodward is a very good businessman and despite the club’s recent failures, he has managed to maintain United’s spot as one of the most valuable clubs in the world of sports.
While this is no easy task, trophies aren’t won in the boardroom. He is one of the most culpable characters at the club right now. He did not back Mourinho in the previous transfer window. He signed Alexis Sanchez for the big name that he was even though Mourinho did not want him. The Alexis Sanchez signing went on to ruin our wage structure resulting in Herrera leaving the club. He signed and sacked three managers all of whom had poor or unsatisfactory tenures. He consistently penny pinches and ends up costing us a transfer. Another thing is that he said he would conduct a thorough recruitment procedure for a new manager after Mourinho was sacked. And last year he said that a Director of Football was his main priority. None of which has been done.
All this has made the fans turn on him. A quarter of the transfer window is done and we have only finalized the signing of Daniel James (undergoing medical at the time of writing). We still need 5 signings in three weeks before the pre-season begins.
What needs to change?
There are only two potential ways of making this right, in my opinion. We could sack Woodward but the sacking will be done by the Glazers and I don’t trust them to find a good replacement. To be honest, I don’t even see them sacking him in the first place. But if you look at it objectively, we need to retain Woodward. I’d hate to lose a shrewd businessman like him to handle the commercial part of the club. The second option is to hire a director of football who handles the footballing part of the club leaving Woodward completely out of it. A proper Director of Football is absolutely needed who can work alongside Ole to bring in the best talent in the world.
These are the changes that I feel will make a big difference to the club. Obviously even then things won’t change overnight but at least we’ll be in the right direction. Until something happens at the management level, signing and selling players or hiring and firing managers is not going to change anything until the whole hierarchy of Manchester United is remodelled.