Manchester United are being destroyed from within

by Darren
11 comments 6703 views

Since 2012, it has been an unmitigated disaster.  Everything that’s great about United happened prior to his tenure, since then they have gone from one calamity to the next and the people responsible for those calamities haven’t even once hinted they’ll hold themselves accountable.  Instead they appoint new manager after new manager giving the illusion of change when it’s nothing more than an optical illusion. 

It is truly unfathomable that Ed Woodward and his staff could inherit a Football Club in the condition that they did and proceed to run it in to the ground and leave it in a position where you have to go back to the 70’s to find the last time United finished this far behind the leaders.  No other Football Club in the world would tolerate this level of ineptitude.  Take a look at Bayern Munich, a Football Club run by Football people who make Football decisions because they know why they’re making them.  Everything at that club is synchronized, the academy plays in the image of the first team, by the time they reach maturity they can be surgically brought in from the youth team to play in the first team. 

When they decide what managers they want, they look for them based on specific set of criteria, they make sure that individuals teams play in the image of Bayern, the individual that comes then seamlessly adapts to Bayerns identity and they don’t require huge turn over with every new manager to fit his style.  They scout the best players in the world to fit the system so you rarely get players signed that look like a fish out of water after 4 weeks, they know exactly who they are as a club and they know exactly what they want, they are what one would call “a proper football club”.

Compare and contrast that with Manchester United, the club went for Louis van Gaal without any serious consideration about what it would take to get the best out of him, the squad he inherited was nowhere near good enough to play the way van Gaal wanted or to deliver the success Woodward thought he would get by hiring him.  Signing after signing was made with exactly the same thought process managers were hired with, ‘he’s a bit good, he will do’. 

No thought of how they fit a system, no idea what a system even was or looked like beyond commercial monetization, big money signings looked like Sunday League signings within months, destroyed of confidence, desperate to leave and finally sold at a loss when they reached rock bottom.  Incredulously, lessons were never learned, after growing bored with van Gaal and feeling the pressure from the tabloids, he would soon be sacked because he failed to deliver success without Woodward ever asking why.

At most clubs, this would be enough to get the decision maker sacked, but they’re football clubs.  Predictably Jose Mourinho was signed for the same reason van Gaal was, ‘he’s a bit good, he’ll do’.  Now even the most casual semi conscious fan knows that to get success under Mourinho you have to completely bend to his will, you have to sign players that may not necessarily sell shirts but they will embody his image. 

Just like van Gaal, Woodward started to lose faith and interest by the 2nd season.  First of all, the Glazers aren’t in this to spend big money every summer, when Mourinho demanded certain players in his 2nd season, Woodward the businessman got in the way.  He balked at the idea of signing Perisic for 35m due to him failing the United algorithm, age, sell on value and commercial potential, as mentioned earlier, he didn’t fail Bayern Munich’s algorithm so Woodward decided it made sense to deny Mourinho the players he needed to do the job he was hired to do inexplicably after handing him a new contract which would later cost the club millions when he sacked him. From that point on it was entirely predictable what would happen next, it took 6 months but it happened all the same.  Another expensive failure for exactly the same reasons. 

Next up was Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, a darling of the fans but by no stretch of the imagination a top manager.  One thing we do know, Ole didn’t get the job due to his body of work, it was about being in the right place in the right time.  Three months later, that same man went from temporary manager to permanent, if anything illustrates that vision and recognizing one gets you the job at United it’s this.  What should have happened is, an exhaustive process should have been undertaken by football people to find the best candidate to deliver success for Manchester United consistent with an identity that is set from the top down and doesn’t change every time you sack someone.  The problem is, to accomplish “a mold” it has to be set in place by Football people who actually recognize what one looks like, the people who are making Football decisions for United have no idea what it looks like, their vision is winning trophies every year, capitalizing on that commercially and think that can be achieved by hiring people who are a bit good. 

Every United manager since 2012 has complained the squad is unbalanced, that’s exactly what you should expect when the club is rudderless and who half commit to managers with very different styles.  Solksjaer to be fair has done a fantastic job, it has been down to him and his coaching staff to restore some of United’s identity, the club have stumbled upon a solution rather than unearth one.  However in order to retain that identity, the club must sign the players the manager asks for rather than the ones Joel Glazer and Woodward think we need.  Fans of this club are left clasping their hands together in hope that the people who have taken United from league title winners to one who has to borrow enough cash to meet it’s basic obligations both have the resources left to support Solskajer and have the self awareness to acknowledge, that they owe it to the fans of this club to not make the same mistakes again.  

As we approach the summer, 2nd summer syndrome seems to be rearing its head once again.  The noises coming out of the Football Club seem to be setting the table for disappointment again.  Solkskajer who is increasingly sounding alarmed has resorted to things that are out of character for him.  He said after Leicester that he gave the club a list of what he needed and it was now over to them, the club look no closer to securing a single name on that list than they were the day he gave it to them.  Solskajer once again spoke out after Sevilla with a not so subtle message about the fact it costs money to sign players that are better than what we have, I’m no Sigmund Freud but that has the sounds of a manger who has been offered cheaper and lesser talented alternatives, we’ve been here before. 

The new season is four weeks away, the only thing Utd have managed to do is move players on from a squad that was razor thin in the first place.  The first half of last season was 100% down to the club not signing the players it needs to fulfill its primary objective, win football games.  The men who fill these suits and who are responsible for running this club are almost offended they are criticized at all, they won’t feel responsible for leaving the club short in the summer and they certainly won’t if they do the same this season.  Solskajer got them out of jail, he saved every single one of them, they owe him yet they will behave like the opposite is true,  Every year the highlights clips gets older, the people of the present, forced to bask in the glory of an era they had nothing to do with.  As Chelsea move closer to the signing of Kai Havertz, the imposters who run this football club will shamelessly sit on their hands.  

They will think nothing of starting the season a month from now with the squad exactly as it is.  At United there’s always money for everything but Football, there’s always money for dividends, always money for massive Executive bonuses and always enough to cover the mistakes of the people who not once have demonstrated they possess the capabilities to run this club.  I pray against all hope that a magic wand is waved, competence is found and Solkskjaer is given the players he asks for but history is the greatest predictor of the future and it suggests otherwise.  Many United fans will react with anger then apathy at another disappointing summer but when the inevitable failures happen next season, please direct your anger beyond the manager.  


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John Moore 19 August 2020 - 7:23 pm

Two Fantastic articles in the last two days,alarming, depressing but fantastic,if the wider United fanbase could get to see things like this, especially the match going fanbase , maybe it could provide momentum to start something meaningful against the Glazers and Woodward,but looking back the anti-glazer sentiment usually dies away as soon as the season begins.How many more deep dark holes does this great club have to fall into before things can change.

Ed Woodward's State of the Art Transfer Committee (Joel) 19 August 2020 - 11:12 pm

Keep it up Phil, you were the one that made me realize what the true problem with this club is. I’m by no means a financial expert but I still expect United to deliver on Sancho once they’ve shipped off another player or two, won’t be enough but it’ll be the bare minimum I suppose… Not delivering him would be a monumental fuck and would show that the club isn’t serious, despite all of their bluster. You see what City and Liverpool are doing and I can’t see anything but the gap widening! I cannot see Solskjaer lasting, the gap in ambition between United and the top 2 is just too monumental for any manager.

It’s all so frustrating, never have I ever felt such hopelessness for the club… You really have to wonder what happens next, if stadiums remain empty and the money starts to dry up, will they look to sell? They keep piling up the debt, what on earth are the Glazers playing at? Based on what teams around United are doing, it’s looking harder and harder to even get top 4… Would the Saudis try and take another shot at it in a few months or have they given up altogether on the prem? Unfortunately, they seem like the only way out of a financial disaster.

Frustrating beyond belief, hope you’ll touch on what the future may hold in the next podcast, can’t make sense of this utter lunacy.

John Moore 24 August 2020 - 3:27 pm

Why are Manchester United fans not making life hell for the Glazers and Woodward and the board that back them, why is it that MUST (man utd supporters trust) stay silent for so long, I am ignorant to them what do they do as a body of fans.My thoughts are that United will never again really challenge for the premier League/champions League with the Glazers in charge,the only reason it happened before was because of the genius of Sir Alex,Phil you have been saying for a long time about the business side of the club being more important than the football side it’s never been more obvious,at the time of writing United are the only team of the top 6 yet to strengthen,for 15 years the United fanbase have not properly challenged the Glazers,now would be a good time to start.

Manchester United officially respond to spending criticism – utdreport 26 August 2020 - 10:15 am

[…] This has lead onto a passionate piece by Pilib De Brún, titled ‘Manchester United are being destroyed from within.’ […]

Rafael Gonzalez 26 August 2020 - 2:03 pm

It´s so sad!! but also, it is the reallity and it has to be faced! Thank you for writting this, Phil. Someone had to.
By the time i´m reading this, the club has already sent you a response to this article. The same old lies, the same old excuses, a real offense, I must say
We´re ruinned as a club on the hands of these people.
I´m from Brazil, and I ask myself, what do the local supporters can do about it. The man United fanbase dissapointment over this whole situation has to be clear to the world.
This has to end, as soon as possible!!

Eugene 26 August 2020 - 2:42 pm

Brilliant, passionate, and absolutely spot on by Pilib. Always pointing out the root of the problem while everyone else is distracted by circus around signings. Podcasts are always excellent as well..

Alfonso Davidson 26 August 2020 - 3:11 pm

Hitting the nail on the head. All the comments are spot on too. This have been going on for too long. And it’s not just on buying players but selling players, the negotiation of players, the money being offered the reason behind ee have such a high wage bill and such a poor squad is all up to Mr Woodward and Co. Im sick and tired of how this club is run and we haven’t hit rock bottom yet. I don’t see no major trophies coming our way under this board/owners and what hurts me the most is Fergie and Gill is also apart of the board. This hurts man so bad. The amount of quality players we could have signed over the years at a cheaper price and would have added more value to our team. It seems like poor decisions back of poor decisions. And its all truth, once the games start coming people forget about the deeper issues and just get all caught up in matchday vibes.

I just want our Manchester United back.

Wilson 26 August 2020 - 10:20 pm

Re: Bellingham, Haaland – in the first case he has an easier path into the 1st team, so unhappy he didn’t sign but understand (he is that good, he needs minutes – not behind Pogba, Bruno). On Haaland – he’s using BvB as a stepping-stone. The clause is in place – he can leave for R Madrid/Bayern whenever he wants.

That said though, as you correctly point out, a fish stinks from the head.

Any other club and Woodward would be finished long ago, “learning on the job” is how I’ve heard it described. Not that any guarantee he’ll even be half decent! He’s a complete novice and his track record is awful. Any surprise both Van Gaal, Mourinho laid failure squarely with him. (probably worsened by way of how’s he supplicant to Joel Glazer.

Losing Ferguson was a hammer blow, but the club could easily and still find a replacement for David Gill… That’s the change required.

Wilson 26 August 2020 - 10:29 pm

One last note, all this commentary that UTD are somehow ‘well-insulated’ against Covid-19, bc of commercial arm – excuse me? Those contracts could be subject to rebates if stadiums don’t fill / shops close again.

The only aspect of UTD that won’t change is the level of debt, the interest, maybe the dividends (another 10m spent there!?)

The club is highly leveraged, exactly where it is most at-risk during uncertain times.

How nobody from the media picked up on this is mind-boggling.

Nana 27 August 2020 - 8:25 am

Manchester united, we pride ourselves as one of the top 3 richest football organisation In the world of sports.
How can the Mr Ed Woodward and the Glazers not think or plan ahead like clubs like top clubs are doing. You have really opened my eyes.
Look how swift Chelsea, Man city etc are making upgrade signings.
Why must Ole suffer, we all know we need better players not necessarily expensive players.
Phil, thank you. We need football people to make football decisions like Bayern Munich.
I am going through frustration, anxiety, sadness anytime I get an alert from @manutd.. Please We need a saviour from these financially driven Board and directors.
So help us God!

Ryan Garrett 27 August 2020 - 2:38 pm

I simply cannot understand why others cannot see what is obviously in the face of us all – United are quite possibly the worst run club in all of England, worst “top” club in all of Europe. “Eddy the Idiot” Woodward is such a terrible operator, it is UNBELIEVABLE he has not been sacked at this point. Money is seemingly the only thing he manages well as an advertiser, marketing, and investment officer. But by any single football standard, Woodward if abysmal. He and the Glazers are destroying the club I love and it is absolutely infuriating.
Thank you Phil for trying to honestly point this out as the bloggers and “journalists” of United continue to propagate lies and “leaks” that simply put the supporters off time and again. I think it is time the supporters rise up and boycott anything and everything Eddy the Idiot touches. Only money talks to these people – take it from them.


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