As many of you know, I’ve been a Manchester United fan for the entirety of my life. I’ve been a follower of other sides abroad such as Athletic Club de Bilbao and Atalanta Bergamo but Manchester United are my lifeblood and I am a season ticket holder for my sins.
The reason why I wanted to write this post was to have a bit of a rant, really. I’m not one who follows the crowd in terms of United apparently needing a “complete overhaul” in their squad to challenge for the title again. This squad won the Premier League for two years in a row prior to City winning it last season so how many changes do you seriously think are required? There are some natural changes that are required because of age but the way that my beloved team have gone about it is utterly farcical.I mean, nobody was a massive advocate of Moyes, were they? I wasn’t. It was depressing to watch games and feel that I had more tactical intelligence than he did. That’s most likely not actually true but it’s how I felt because you could see exactly where things were going to go wrong in games and exactly why United wouldn’t win the games. However, that said, Moyes was a new manager at a top, top club so surely he has to be given at least two years? I hated watching United under Moyes but I don’t want United to become another Chelsea where there is a new manager there virtually every season because that’s not what football should be about. United have always been a loyal club and to see a manager fired after 10 months is somewhat embarrassing.
Now we’ve brought van Gaal in, who has a terrific level of experience. He’s done some magnificent jobs and I like the way that he won’t take any shit. However, this is still a really big risk! He’s never managed in English football before. He’s not the youngest of managers, either! By the time he’s got his feet under the table, he’ll most likely be retiring and then we’re back to square one so where’s the sense in that? Not only that but van Gaal has never done a great job in his first season anywhere. United fired Moyes for not having a great first season so will van Gaal follow suit? The mind boggles!
On top of that, United are now seemingly being dictated to by the fans, which is a really, really bad idea! The number of examples I could give you of why supporting the masses on decision-making is wrong are endless and this is no exception. United don’t need to get rid of loads of players nor sell loads of players. What they need is the right man to galvanise them. Cleverley isn’t a bad player, for example. People are saying he is. Why? Because he’s been playing in front of the back four all season long, which is not where he plays. I’m pretty sure that Messi would get slagged off if you played him in front of the back four and whereas I’m absolutely not saying that Cleverley is as good as Messi, what I am saying is that he’s a good player! Fellaini may be a bit lazy but he’s a decent holding midfielder; nothing more than that and nothing less so why is he taking so much abuse? He’s there to be a defensive midfielder. It’s not a glamorous job. He won’t score from 40 yards. He won’t skin his opponents. He’s a defensive midfielder. Have realistic expectations, people! Has everyone forgotten how bad Giggs looked last season? That wasn’t age catching up with him; that was being played in the wrong position (in front of the back four!!). If you do that week in, week out then you naturally lose confidence in yourselves and it’s started a slippery slope downhill now.
The problems that stem from one bad season can be massive, though. No UCL football or revenue for one season is ok but for two seasons or more is unacceptable. If that happens then there will be a revolving door at the helm of the club and in terms of players too, which leaves the club without that familiar loyalty that was bred into it by Sir Matt Busby and continued by Sir Alex Ferguson. This will then lead to some of the better players leaving, other players not joining, and the quality average at the club dropping. This club is not about knee-jerk reactions; it is about consistency, tenacity, belief, and good football and it’s a real shame to see things going this way but that’s what will happen if things keep going as they are, which makes the season ahead massive. There really aren’t any excuses for not securing a UCL place, either – there aren’t any other competitions to distract United.
So have we done the right thing in the transfer market? In a word – no. Losing three out of your back four in one transfer window is nothing short of embarrassing and it’s massively damaging to boot. No side could handle that!! United cannot afford to lose Vidic, Ferdinand, and Evra all at once; it’s just insane. I agree that two of them needed to be gradually phased out and I didn’t see any problems with the other but to lose them all like this is just really, really embarrassing. I don’t have any problems with their replacements but they’re kids; they need time to adjust to the top level and players to learn from which they don’t have at the moment because we’ve just sold them!! Shocking.
On top of that, we’ve signed Ander Herrera, which is…interesting. I liked him at Athletic but I don’t know why we’ve signed him. He doesn’t give us anything that we don’t already have. He had a poor season at Athletic last year (ignore Sky stating he was a “lynchpin”, please – he was outdone by Benat, Rico, and Iturraspe regularly, hence him being subbed so frequently) and won’t be arriving with much confidence. Who is signing these players, incidentally? van Gaal hadn’t even set foot in the training ground before Shaw and Herrera rolled up! Another scary thought.
So what’s the problem? It’s going to sound a little out there but I believe the problem is Wayne Rooney. No player is bigger than the club; that’s how it’s always been and how it always should be and it’s time he left. He gets paid too much to play in a position (attacking midfielder) which he’s not very good at. He’s not good at passing (save one in every seven in terms of range). He plays when he feels like. He’s become extremely lazy. He sulks a lot. If he doesn’t play then he creates a bad atmosphere so what do United do? Force him into the playmaker role, play our naturally gifted playmakers on the flanks, and then drop wingers like Valencia, who was our best player at the time – madness. All this comes from Rooney, though. Everyone else produces their best when he isn’t playing; hasn’t anyone noticed? Strike the problem at the root and cut out the negative players. Bring in the players that want to play, that want to play good football, and the players that will fight for the badge. They may well be sat in the academy or even sat on the bench but they are there.
It’s impossible to say for sure what the season ahead will hold. With my rose-tinted glasses on, I’d love to believe that we’ll be title challengers once again. Realistically speaking, if someone said that to me after they’d just lost three out of their back four then I’d have fallen about laughing at them. I hope for a UCL place so that this club doesn’t start to go down the pan because it’s very hard to get back on when you’ve fallen off the wagon but I really don’t know what to expect. Too many new faces and not enough consistency never bodes well.