Nobody would’ve envisaged that Manchester United would fall so far away from the top when Sir Alex Ferguson retired, not even the most rabid fans of rival clubs.
The Red Devils have not won the Premier League title – and haven’t even come close – since the departure of the legendary Scottish manager.
Three managers have come and gone, and now it’s the turn of former player and club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to turn things around at the club, but it hasn’t gone well so far.
Manchester United are far, far away from the leaders, and could fall to the bottom of the top 10 or even further.
But, where did it all go wrong? Let’s take a look at 3 biggest mistakes Manchester United have made since Sir Alex’s departure
#1 No football men in the boardroom
Following the dismal start to the 2019-20 season, the criticism of Manchester United has not only rested on the manager and the players, but also people working in the board room, especially executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
While Manchester United have made record revenues and added numerous new sponsors, they have failed on the pitch time and again.
United fans have never been happy about the club’s owners, the Glazer family, as they feel that the American owners are not passionate about the club, but rather see it as a revenue generator for them.
Woodward took over from David Gill after he left the same season as Sir Alex Ferguson, but he has not endeared himself to fans as he has made several mistakes in his role at the club.
Most importantly, fans believe that Woodward is not a “football man” as he has no prior experience of running a club. Fans and pundits have been demanding that United sign a director of football, who can act as a link between the manager and the board and make footballing decisions.
#2 Tactically dissimilar managers
United have had four permanent managers since Alex Ferguson’s departure. David Moyes, who was touted to be the “Chosen One” did not even last a season at Old Trafford as the job was too big for him.
Moyes’ successor, Louis van Gaal, came with an impressive CV, having managed some big clubs in Europe, including Barcelona, but he too was sacked, despite winning the FA Cup.
Then came Jose Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles with Chelsea in two stints, but he was sacked in the 2018-19 season, which led to Solskjaer being appointed on a temporary basis.
Each one of the managers that the club have hired is different tactically and in their preferred style of play. Moyes tried to continue what Ferguson did at the club, but couldn’t replicate his fellow Scotsman’s magic.
Van Gaal brought in a more possession-based football to Old Trafford, which fans grew tired of eventually, while Mourinho had a more pragmatic approach with physically strong players to dominate games.
The board have not hired managers that have a specific style of play – or the Manchester United way – rather gone for big-name managers. This change in tactics means that certain players would not fit a particular manager’s style of play, which in turn means that new players would need to arrive and others who will be shown the exit door.
If United had a plan on the kind of football that they want to play, they could have hired managers that match their style of play, which has been missing.
#3 Not making the right buys or sales
It’s quite a shock that players like Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, who have been at the club since the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, are still signed on with the club (Smalling has left for Roma on loan and still has a contract with United). Both players have been given numerous opportunities and several years to show their potential, and have not been sold yet.
The same goes for players like Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata – the former who was sold earlier this year, and the latter given a new contract despite underperforming.
It’s not just been player sale decisions that have been surprising. Some buys have also been equally strange. The signing of the likes of Falcao or Angel di Maria, both players who were on huge wages, and didn’t quite fit United’s style of play, seemed to be signings just to please the fans, with no thought going in before signing them.