Really good, and massively comprehensive post , but so very depressing in conclusion.But there’s an argument he had to sell to buy to address the major problems. And that is a process that was always going to take several windows.
Regardless, we can break the problems down across both micro and macro scales:
Micro - The Manager
- On the positive side he has shown good tactical awareness and flexibility playing against teams that attack and leave space across the pitch. Hence his hood record against the other big six. On the negative he has proved alarmingly easy to nullify with a low block defence, hence his shocking record against everyone else. Bottom line, transition or no transition, results are nowhere near good good enough, and he’s shown no aptitude to learn how to address his weaknesses. His in game tactical tweaking, especially use of subs, has been alarmingly poor.
- While he positively identified fitness as being a major cause of our woes last season; there has clearly been something very wrong with our preseason training, with a huge volume of players suffering soft tissue muscle injuries over the opening month of the season. This likely came as a result of overtraining with improper recovery. Trying to do too much too soon. Dan James did his own pre-preseason fitness work, as I heard did Rashford. And I bet we’ll see those two be the most durable across the season.
- His signings have been excellent. Best we’ve had in years. But they’ve come at a cost. Several players have been moved on, all of whom I agree with, yet replacements have not been bought. I’m all for bringing the young players through, but the over reliance on them for squad depth has been preposterous. If we had signed a CM and a forward in summer, we’d be much better off right now. You need depth. Since Ole came in Valencia, Smalling, Darmian, Herrera, Fellaini, Sanchez, and Lukaku have all gone out, and only Maguire, Wan-Bissaka and James have come in. Not going to argue with the outs - Herrera could’ve stayed but we’ll never know how much he really wanted for his new deal - and the ins have been great; but the squad is short on numbers now and when you have key injuries you realise how desperately short on quality it is.
Young, Bailly, Rojo, Matic, Lingard, and Mata are not of the required quality to be at the club, and offer next to nothing.
Shaw is hugely injury prone, so we have no reliable left back. In a team where all our width comes from fullbacks.
Fred and Pereira are squad player quality.
Pogba is 100% of our creative threat, and he doesn’t want to be here.
The squad is moving in the right direction but the way it’s being done, you have to be either naive or incredibly stupid not to see that we were always 1-2 injuries away from finishing between 8th and 14th in the league. That’s inexcusably bad planning.
The Macro - The board
- Hired Moyes and let him gut the most successful back room team in British football for Jimmy Lumsden and Steve Round.
- Sanctioned the signing of Fellaini for 4m more than his release clause after pulling the plug on a deal for Thiago.
- Fired a counter attacking coach and replaced him with a methodical possession obsessed coach and let him move out 14 first team players in 11 months.
- Fired said possession based coach after 4th and 5th place finishes and a cup win, and a complete squad overhaul at the cost of 300m; and replaced him with diametrically philosophically opposed coach, ensuring no continuity of desirable player attributes.
- Sanctioned a further complete squad overhaul, moving on another 15+ first team players in 24 months, and at a cost of 400m, to fit the new philosophy.
- Fired this coach 30 months later, and hired a caretaker manager with another diametrically opposed approach, now focused on high pressing and workrate and fast fluid football (supposedly).
- The board preach calm and consideration about making a new permanent appointment. Yet despite assurances no appointment will be made until the close season, jump the gun and offer caretaker manager a permanent contract after a run of excellent results and one famous away win in Europe. Nostalgia reigns.
- Consequently, they sanction another complete squad overhaul and start moving out first team players with gleeful abandon. Players who are not adequately repacked, leaning the squad woefully short and underperforming.
No prizes for guessing where this is going. Results will continue to deteriore. Ole will probably make January if results are just about good enough. Will make one or two desperate signings there, and then get sacked when it’s clear we will finish 8th or lower. The board will then hire yet another new coach, with another contrarian approach and the whole process will begin again. Yet each time declining revenues and financial pressures will make it harder and harder to both fund and attract players.
Bottom line is that we have the worst executive management team in charge of football operations of any major club in the world. The timeline of strategic decisions is so appallingly negligent and lacking any long term strategic intent, that any insightful, ambitious, competent company, would make major changes to both its key personnel and organisational structure.
Anybody who thinks any of this is going to get solved by firing Ole is painfully naive. There is NOTHING that is going to happen positively here, other than a short term upturn in results for a few months or even a season, under a new manager, until the ownership and/or organisational structure of the company changes significantly. Sooner or later any manager is going to be victim of the deep, deep flaws in our recruitment strategy, and invariably starting from scratch with a demoralised squad.
At this point the only way to save the club is for a United and relentless pressure on the Glazers to sell. This would require mass boycotts of games, and merchandise on a scale hitherto unseen, and for all the key figures in United’s recent history to speak out and stand for the cause. I am talking SAF, Sir Bobby, all recent legends. Something to cause global damage to the brand and pressure. And I am afraid NONE of that is going to happen.
Bottom line, the club is currently fecked. It needs massive Infrastructure investment, massive playing squad investment, and a complete football operations overhaul. Until the Glazers are gone, this is an utterly hopeless situation. I am at the point of tuning out. Everything that happens is so alarming predictable, and I would bet my bottom dollar that the exact same pattern that has played out for the last 6 years, will play out for the next however many, until they leave.
There are so many threads on here about sack this manager and hire that one, or sell Lingard and buy Sancho. But frankly we could hire the ghost of Sir Matt Busby, and sign Roy of the Rovers, and we’d still be fecking hopeless. It’s all a moot exercise. You can only rip up the playbook so many times. It takes years to lay down foundations for success, and you may have two or three or even four managers building on those foundations before you get the house you want; but the foundations are there nonetheless. What we’ve been doing is saying “nah, don’t like the way that looks, knock the house down, rip up the foundations, change the elevation of the lot, stick a moat around it, make it 6 stories instead of two..”, and then the next manager comes in and says “nope, none of that works, the entire thing needs to be subterranean.”
It’s truly laughable that this keeps going on, and is being allowed to go on. And our owners are too fecking thick and clueless about football to realise what a fecking terrible CEO Woodward is. “Oh but he’s making them money” I hear some of you mew, but he really isn’t. Growth is stagnant, expenses have been flagrantly high for no return - all because of poor strategic planning -, the asset is under pressure across the board and about to suffer sponsorship penalties for underperforming. The club should’ve have grown hugely in the last six years, instead it’s watched all our rivals catch up to us economically, and lesser clubs surpass us on the field.
It’s a fecking disgrace and I advise you all to stop giving a shit about what happens in the short term.
Please write it again, and next time give us a happy ending ........ in other words Enid Blyton the feck out of it!