When exactly did our decline begin?

TheLord

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Definitely the final couple of years of Fergie's tenure.

I know we continued to win a lot despite Fergie's decline, with a combination of managerial brilliance, a winning mentality in the senior players, and only Chelsea and a budding City to deal with in the League. But the decline definitely began in his final few years and it has been downhill since.

I always felt he should have called it a day after overtaking Liverpool's PL tally in 2011 (and then losing to Barcelona in the Champions League). But in all honesty, even if he had retired then, the succession plan would still be non-existent and we would be not much better than where we are right now.

The single biggest reason why we are where we are is because the club didn't have a proper post-Ferguson succession plan.
 

Theonas

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Very illuminating posts @Theonas ! They make a lot of sense.

btw Bayern hasn't sustained 20 years of success either (yet). Our 00s were rather poor. Around 2006, for example, I would have considered us a much weaker team and club than Arsenal. Something to remember when thinking about the trajectories. They built a stadium, we built a stadium. Getting kicked out of CL by Mourinho's Chelsea in 2005, I remember feeling like we were in 2nd division compared the English clubs and would never reach them. We only started to get better again around 2009, through a mixture of investment, a fundamental change in management (getting in van Gaal and settling on a possession-based style with this doing), and a reaction to the shock to the system that Klopp's Dortmund provided domestically.

Also, looking with a bit of distance your decline isn't that epically massive so far, honestly.
Thank you! You are right about Bayern. I remember that game when Chelsea beat you home and away scoring four twice I think. Lampard was brilliant if I recall. Your win again us thanks to that Robben volley and that very harsh red on Rafael was around the time when things started to change. Wouldn't you say you also benefited from the restructuring of German football in the '00s with a shift in focus in academies all around the country contributing to the production of what many would now consider legendary players like Neuer, Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Müller?

Dortmund's and Klopp's influence is almost aching to Mourinho's on us. It forced us to change gears and elevated us. On the whole, yes, football is cyclical, we were luckier than any team in recent memory in the sense that we were competing for the top honors up until April/May for twenty years straight with the exception of maybe 2 seasons. No club in a major European league has given its fans that level of consistency in terms of always looking forward to those late spring months. It was a privilege in that sense and an end to it was always coming. It was/is up to us to do what Bayern, Barcelona, and many others did and start building again. We are yet to see a coherent strategy from the club and that is what we should be talking about in my opinion. Dissecting where the decline started might be an interesting intellectual exercise from a historian perspective where you look at how an empire ended. However, I don't find it relevant to our state today.
 

Ludens the Red

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Exactly. This idea if a "rebuild" is nonsense. Top clubs can put together a team fairly quickly if you know what you're doing. United don't. People here act like every manager deserves absolute power a blank cheque and 5 years. It's ridiculous.
Aye and whilst I’m sure fans views don’t really impact what the bosses at our club do, this mindset is heavily outdated and unhelpful especially as it’s used to preset yourself as a ‘better fan’.
 

Foxbatt

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In that case when Fergie decided he owned The Rock of Gibraltar and decided to take the Irish Tycoons to court.
That's when it started.
 

Tyrion

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Aye and whilst I’m sure fans views don’t really impact what the bosses at our club do, this mindset is heavily outdated and unhelpful especially as it’s used to preset yourself as a ‘better fan’.
Anyone who disagrees is told to "remember Ferguson" or "support the team". People should support the club, not necessarily the manager or players.
 

m1tch

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When we had to sell Ronaldo I'd say. Sure we didn't decline dramatically in that instant, but we were unable to replace him in terms of keeping the squad at that level. "No value" is how failing to replace him was sold to us at the time, and that seems a fair reflection of our transfer spending, especially since SAF retired.
 

frutti di mare

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I can see the logic in it.

So if Fergie had stayed on for 2013-2014, he could possibly have sold Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra. Perhaps even Rooney. (Giggs the only one who would get to stay if Fergie was still ruthless in management)
After about 2006, due the Glazers taking over, SAF ended up keeping players long past their use by date. Without the debt of the glazers and all the financial restrictions then it’s most likely, based on past precedent, that SAF would have let Rooney go, replaced Ronaldo, kept Tevez, and found proper replacements for class of 92 instead of keeping them so long and even asking Scholes to come out of retirement.
 

Tom Van Persie

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I can see the logic in it.

So if Fergie had stayed on for 2013-2014, he could possibly have sold Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra. Perhaps even Rooney. (Giggs the only one who would get to stay if Fergie was still ruthless in management)
He was looking to move Rooney on that summer. I think Vidic, Rio and Evra would've stayed on for that season but the following summer they would've probably left. He maybe would've kept Evra.

Fergie had some big signings planned before he retired. We had been scouting Thiago for years, that deal was nearly done all Moyes had to do was sign off on it but he turned him down. SAF told Evra there was a chance of Ronaldo coming back and United were working on Bale according to Moyes. Money was there to be spent, Moyes' dithering and Woodward's incompetence is the reason why we only ended up with Fellaini.
 

Luke1995

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After about 2006, due the Glazers taking over, SAF ended up keeping players long past their use by date. Without the debt of the glazers and all the financial restrictions then it’s most likely, based on past precedent, that SAF would have let Rooney go, replaced Ronaldo, kept Tevez, and found proper replacements for class of 92 instead of keeping them so long and even asking Scholes to come out of retirement.
That explains why Fergie rarely made any big name signings after 2006. Although he could have replaced the likes of Rooney, Scholes and others with young players with potential like selling Beckham to get Ronaldo.
 

Luke1995

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He was looking to move Rooney on that summer. I think Vidic, Rio and Evra would've stayed on for that season but the following summer they would've probably left. He maybe would've kept Evra.

Fergie had some big signings planned before he retired. We had been scouting Thiago for years, that deal was nearly done all Moyes had to do was sign off on it but he turned him down. SAF told Evra there was a chance of Ronaldo coming back and United were working on Bale according to Moyes. Money was there to be spent, Moyes' dithering and Woodward's incompetence is the reason why we only ended up with Fellaini.
If Fergie had stayed and Ronaldo came back in the summer of 2013 like it was speculated, he would have smashed Charlton's record and Rooney most likely wouldn't have passed him. I'm not sure if Thiago would have been a sucess here, but at the time, he certainly was a better option than what we ended up getting. Moye's worst decision though was getting rid of Fergie's staff. Many of the players who were here had never worker under the staff that Moyes brought with him.

So if I understood this correctly, the Glazers are the main reason why we have been so uncompetitive these last few years. Does the debt still affects our ability to do big transfers ?
 

bringbackbebe

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When we moved away from being a club where finances were used as a tool to improve football to where football was used as a tool to improve finances.

This mentality started with Kenyon, but him leaving for Chelsea helped us quite a bit since David Gill understood the footballing side well and that success on the pitch was the first and foremost driver of everything else. With Woody taking over from him, we went back to Kenyon ways marketing ourselves with football as a side show, but this time with Moyes instead of SAF.
 

RedOldBoy

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when the Glazers bought us

Fergie managed to paper over the cracks for a while

but selling Ronaldo and replacing him with Valencia says it all

not a top club mentality
I vote this as the correct answer.
Absolutely true.
 

Redlyn

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Basically from when SAF left. Whatever cracks were there in his last years he would have fixed it with all the money we have thrown at it through all these subpar managers. He always managed to rise up to the challenge. When we went from champions to 7th place for the first time since 1990 is when the shit hit the fan.
 

lex talionis

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I get the argument that the decline began when the Glazers took over, but in truth the appointment of Moyes is the right answer. The Glazers had the good sense of letting Fergie run the football side of the operation and we all know about the trophies, but after Fergie handed the keys to the Ferrari to Moyes, the young Scot drove it straight into the ditch and watched the beautiful machine burst into flames.

We still haven't recovered from what Moyes did to United. How this is even debatable boggles the mind.
 

Tap

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When we moved away from being a club where finances were used as a tool to improve football to where football was used as a tool to improve finances.

This mentality started with Kenyon, but him leaving for Chelsea helped us quite a bit since David Gill understood the footballing side well and that success on the pitch was the first and foremost driver of everything else. With Woody taking over from him, we went back to Kenyon ways marketing ourselves with football as a side show, but this time with Moyes instead of SAF.
Well said. The club’s focus is on branding, social media, profits and stock prices.

Similar to lots of companies in other industries where the CEOs focus on brands and stock prices at the expense of product and service quality.
 

lex talionis

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Right, but we were still comforting destroying the league and made the CL finals 3 times in 4 years under the Glazers and Ferguson. Blame the Glazers to some degree, but once Fergie handed the Ferrari to Moyes, said Ferrari burst into flames.
 

shamans

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Well said. The club’s focus is on branding, social media, profits and stock prices.

Similar to lots of companies in other industries where the CEOs focus on brands and stock prices at the expense of product and service quality.
Sad thing is it works. United still makes a ton of money due to its brand. We're all gonna love the club
 

Siezard

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But the Glazers were willing to spend. It was SAF and his own sense of ego who decides he doesn't want to renew players so he just played the players who can just wins the title for him and he leaves an aging squad for his successor.
 

bringbackbebe

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Sad thing is it works. United still makes a ton of money due to its brand. We're all gonna love the club
(Most) People want to be associated with success. They will shift to supporting teams that win. I had a friend who was a hardcore Arsenal supporter during their "invincibles" era having t shirt of every player Arsenal bought. I remember him laughing at me all week after the Wiltord goal that sealed their title at Old Trafford. I lost contact with him for a decade and caught up with him recently to find out he's always been a Man City fan since childhood :lol:. Only 10% of the fans outside of the UK are truly loyal to the club they support. 90% are in it for the success or marketable players. We have neither (maybe Ronaldo is an exception - but the other 50m+ players we've bought have all been dog crap ... Maguire shirt anyone? Fred? Sancho?). It will only be a matter of time before we start shooting ourselves in the foot financially.
 
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frutti di mare

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That explains why Fergie rarely made any big name signings after 2006. Although he could have replaced the likes of Rooney, Scholes and others with young players with potential like selling Beckham to get Ronaldo.
Yeah definitely, but who were the great young players that came through at that time? Also our players as good as they were were not really sellable as they were already past 30 etc.

Benzema at 21 went to RM for £35m most likely cost plus he choose them.

Aguero from what I read was not signed due to wages, transfer fee , and or agent fee.

Varane got hijacked by Zidane

De Gea we managed to get

I imagine Smalling & Jones didn’t work out
the way SAF imagined it.

Anderson and Nani right potential, right age, but neither had the mentality to reach their full ability.
 

The Plump Poet

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Quantity of good central midfielders SAF bought in 27 years: Two.

Stands to reason that when Scholes and Keane left/got older, you began to look a little shaky.



Sorry, but that's not on the Glazers at all.
 

pacifictheme

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Think if you take it from our peak, probably after 2008/ 09 season.

Ronaldo leaving was a big blow and we've never hit those heights again.
 

Charrockero

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The transition from Fergie to Moyes was awful. The Board had no plans, they simply gave their blessing to Fergie's choice and did not focus on changing aging players or obtaining a manager that would help consolidate these changes. Van Gaal - more or less- gave some stability, but wasn't brilliant. United should have used that to ther advantage but trusted in Mourinho's prestige rather than in somebody capable of bringing new and refreshing ideas. Honestly, I don't place any prestige into Mourinho's EL win. It was mandatory to win that title, just like Solksjaer should have been able to defeat Villareal last year and he didn't.

Competition also improved, greatly.

City began spending more, with better results and better gameplay. They finally obtained constant success with Guardiola.
Liverpool deployed a 5 year plan with Klopp and resulted in them winning a CL and a PL title. Although they are not at City's level of spending or have a broad squad, they are very well balanced.
Chelsea, although somewhat inconsistent, have been able to re-structure quickly and capable of obtaining success.

Having said all that, I don't think United is in shambles or so far from winning titles... But they lack a manager that establishes a solid football style around the whole Club.
 

Luke1995

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Yeah definitely, but who were the great young players that came through at that time? Also our players as good as they were were not really sellable as they were already past 30 etc.

Benzema at 21 went to RM for £35m most likely cost plus he choose them.

Aguero from what I read was not signed due to wages, transfer fee , and or agent fee.

Varane got hijacked by Zidane

De Gea we managed to get

I imagine Smalling & Jones didn’t work out
the way SAF imagined it.

Anderson and Nani right potential, right age, but neither had the mentality to reach their full ability.
Alexandre Pato and Bojan were higly rated at the time. Maybe it would have worked out here but i'm just guessing. I'd say Fergie did a great job with what he got.

Smalling didn't turn out too bad. He just didn't develop into a world class defender.
 

adexkola

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Valencia is mentioned too many times in this thread. The fact of the matter is that any replacement for Ronaldo would have been a step down (yes, even transfer muppets' wet dream Robben) and Valencia was a great player for us. Maybe not as sexy but whatever.

Owen and Obertan, fair enough.

Rather than focus on who we brought in, why not focus on the fact that we let a club who was a joke both domestically and in Europe, poach Ronaldo from us for cheap, and we didn't think it was prudent to keep Tevez in the aftermath?
 

fastwalker

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The seeds of United's decline began in the 2010/11 season (three years before SAF's actual retirement). Any credible organisation has a succession plan. They know ahead of time who their critical personnel are and diligently prepare and plan for their eventual departure and replacement. The point of that is that it avoids the thing that businesses fear most which is 'single point of failure'. The thing about succession plans is that they are not cobbled together in the year before or the year of departure,. Truly successful organisations plan for succession years before the event. The idea that Manchester United, a billion pound global brand did not, as Sir Alex entered his 70s, appear to have made plans for life after him beggars belief. It frankly beggars belief.

They believed that the seeds of success that we enjoyed for a quarter of a century would continue without appreciating that all of the success was, as it turned out, invested and about one man. Had United consciously brought in someone to work alongside Sir Alex for three years with the clear understanding that they would be succeeding him, things might be different today. Over those three years, SAF could gradually have ceded profile and responsibility to his would-be replacement making the eventual transition relatively seamless.

As the old adage goes, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.
 
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GifLord

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Valencia is mentioned too many times in this thread. The fact of the matter is that any replacement for Ronaldo would have been a step down (yes, even transfer muppets' wet dream Robben) and Valencia was a great player for us. Maybe not as sexy but whatever.

Owen and Obertan, fair enough.

Rather than focus on who we brought in, why not focus on the fact that we let a club who was a joke both domestically and in Europe, poach Ronaldo from us for cheap, and we didn't think it was prudent to keep Tevez in the aftermath?
It's about the quality of the player he was decent sometimes even very good but god was he bad at crossing the ball.
Also when he got the #7 jersey he played like he was space jammed :lol:
Both him and Young should have been sold in 2015, Instead we converted both to fullbacks
What a joke
 

Wolf1992

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(Most) People want to be associated with success. They will shift to supporting teams that win. I had a friend who was a hardcore Arsenal supporter during their "invincibles" era having t shirt of every player Arsenal bought. I remember him laughing at me all week after the Wiltord goal that sealed their title at Old Trafford. I lost contact with him for a decade and caught up with him recently to find out he's always been a Man City fan since childhood :lol:. Only 10% of the fans outside of the UK are truly loyal to the club they support. 90% are in it for the success or marketable players. We have neither (maybe Ronaldo is an exception - but the other 50m+ players we've bought have all been dog crap ... Maguire shirt anyone? Fred? Sancho?). It will only be a matter of time before we start shooting ourselves in the foot financially.
Well, technically that's the way most "foreign support" works.
Pick the trendy/successful team, support them , and then change team if they stop being successful or become irrelevant for a long time.

As foreigners don't have any bond to England or the cities where english teams plays, of course as soon as one team stop being successful lot of them are gonna change team for a more trendy/successful one, and buy merchandise from their new club.

It has always been like this, there is a reason why the most followed clubs in social media are the most successful ones.

United cultivated big chunk of foreign "fans" during SAF era, but they might lose lot of them if they keep being irrelevant on the pitch, plus the younger generations might be following City or Liverpool instead, as the gloryhunters most of them are.
 

Roane

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Purely speculation on my part here but I think the mentality shift happened during SAFs end of times. The Keane saga and even maybe the Rooney saga.

Since SAF left we have had a consistent theme of players not putting in effort and even now we have the so called leaks and players on high wages but little effort.


Now imagine you are an up and coming youngster and you see the whole Keane saga wouldn't you think forget this if it can happen to Keano then who gives a stuff about me.

Similarly Rooney having SAF in years must have been some shock and showed a vulnerability you wouldn't associate with SAF.

Sounds kind of touchy feely and I'm probably completely wrong but I do wonder if these kind of events plus Moyes etc have moulded the mindset?
 

Gehrman

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He's not wrong. We also wasted energy and time on players like Bebé and that dude who was a bit good at dribbling. Micheal Owen etc. Having no replacement for scholes. Phil jones and Smalling being groomed to take over from Ferdinand and Vidic. No wonder we became so mediocre.
 

golden_blunder

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He's not wrong. We also wasted energy and time on players like Bebé and that dude who was a bit good at dribbling. Micheal Owen etc. Having no replacement for scholes. Phil jones and Smalling being groomed to take over from Ferdinand and Vidic. No wonder we became so mediocre.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but at the time they were 2 of the most highly promising CBs in the country
 

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Well, technically that's the way most "foreign support" works.
Pick the trendy/successful team, support them , and then change team if they stop being successful or become irrelevant for a long time.

As foreigners don't have any bond to England or the cities where english teams plays, of course as soon as one team stop being successful lot of them are gonna change team for a more trendy/successful one, and buy merchandise from their new club.

It has always been like this, there is a reason why the most followed clubs in social media are the most successful ones.

United cultivated big chunk of foreign "fans" during SAF era, but they might lose lot of them if they keep being irrelevant on the pitch, plus the younger generations might be following City or Liverpool instead, as the gloryhunters most of them are.
Sorry but this is just not true.

I could not have less ties to England and most of the people I know who follow football support a domestic team and a foreign team.

I am 34 so there are several clubs who were very successful when I was a kid but not anymore. Clubs like United, Milan, Arsenal, even Lazio and Roma. Lazio in particular were popular here as they had Mihajlovic and Stankovic playing for them back when Serie A was good and Lazio were competing for titles.

Anyway, I dont know a single person who supported one of these clubs and switched afterwards. Maybe it is a cultural thing, I dont know. Where I am from, you "pick" a club as a kid and stick with it.
 

stevoc

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Selling Ronaldo and letting Tevez go to City and thinking Valencia, Obertan and Diouf were suitable replacements were when it started, we went from the 2nd best team in Europe hoping to get back to being the best to accepting a lowering of standards. Domestically we were still able to compete because the quality of other top teams dropped off at the same time (I actually think if you were to rank the best league winning teams of the last 20 years in order, the bottom 7 sides would all be from 2010 to 2016) and the genius of Ferguson but it showed the lack of ambition. It also meant that Ferguson spent his last few years trying to get every last drop out of a not great side that weren't able to give anymore when he left rather than leaving Moyes with a younger, more dynamic squad.

Then you add the absolute mess that Woodward made of things and the sense that the commercial side was able to finally take priority over the football side once they had got Ferguson out of the way and you have the mess we have now now.
United didn't 'let' Tevez go to City United held up their side of the deal agreed in 2007 but Tevez and his owner understandably took the financial offer from City that was basically double what United were offering.