Manchester United are an absolute travesty.
How many colossal pitfalls will this fanbase have to endure before there is even a semblance of light at the end of this long and circuitous tunnel??
The owners (the Glazer family of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fame) and Chairman Ed Woodward have flatlined any joy that historically gushes out from Manchester United. Their distinct lack of a plan in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era (keep in mind, SAF retired over SEVEN years ago) is galling. Their strategy of placing bandages on fully torn off appendages is equal parts hopeless and criminal.
Which brings us to current day. You know your club is struggling when you lose 6-1 at home and that’s not even the top story. United’s farcical approach and execution in the latest transfer window took care of that.
Jadon Sancho was United’s top target this summer. The player wanted to come and Borussia Dortmund had no problems with selling. What proceeded was United vehemently ignoring Dortmund’s August 10th deadline and then refusing to pay the asking price. The aspect of not paying an obscene amount (€120m) for a super young Englishman is not the issue at hand. Having only one target to chase (when in reality the club not only needed a winger, but a central defender as well) with no competition, spending an entire window chasing fruitlessly and then categorically failing is more the issue.
United’s hierarchy were so focused on Sancho, and still are, that it affected the rest of their business. When the deal seemed dead (which it was two months ago but nobody at United wanted to realize that), they tried finding replacements on deadline day for loans. Why? Because they want to revisit this wholly stupid process again next summer when other teams will be in for Jadon and the price will undoubtedly be even higher (or at the very least, the same). Well, guess what, nobody wants to fucking loan out really accomplished wingers. Barcelona wanted to sell Ousmane Dembélé not loan him to United. Watford wanted to sell Ismaïla Sarr not loan him to United. So, the entire noncomittal endeavor led to nothing.
Well, almost nothing. United did capture some young guns. Facundo Pellistri signed from Peñarol in Uruguay. He’s a teenaged winger who is thoroughly untested. And, Amad Diallo will be arriving in January from Atalanta. Diallo is an Ivorian winger with quite a bit of potential. Both will be pushed into the first team to try and add depth that is severely lacking (Jesse Lingard may yet be shipped to a Portuguese team as their window is still open and Daniel James is in way over his head at this tier of football). But, these two newbies aren’t the answers. United need to be pushing for titles right now and they don’t have the elite manpower to do so. Not with every other top competitor better than last season and others (read: Tottenham and Everton) in drastically superior form to the Mancunians.
And United do need this firepower on the wings. Marcus Rashford is inconsistent in front of goal. Mason Greenwood looks the part and can finish with both feet but is still developing (when was the last time you saw him head the ball?). And Anthony Martial is too streaky to be relied upon as the main goal scorer. If one of these 3 gets injured, then what? United did address that to some degree by signing Edinson Cavani on a free. Cavani will be asked to come off the bench to try and ignite the struggling offense. He has a history of scoring goals (although he’s been playing in France’s porous Ligue 1 for most of those) and has experience that is sorely absent in this squad. And if you’re wondering how he fell to United…well, when you need someone to pay exorbitant agent fees and ludicrous wages to attackers on their way out, you call Ed Woodward. He is your man.
Cavani can teach the aforementioned trio some valuable tips on how to score on the big stage. Greenwood, especially, eventually needs to get off the wing and be United’s #9. He is not seen as a winger and will be asked more and more to sharpen his striker instincts. Martial and Rashford need to just put the ball in the back of the net. It doesn’t matter how. They have to get dirty and prowl in the box as nobody else (besides Bruno Fernandes from the spot) is scoring goals. You cannot win pots missing chances at the clip this 2020 United does.
But, alas, as the world witnessed in the most recent thrashing, it is not only United’s front line limping about, the back four is a cataclysmic shambles. A central defender should have been top priority. Harry Maguire is not world class. He is above average and has at least shown that he is durable. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer loves Maguire’s temperament, which admittedly seems quite even-keeled, but I wish his best quality as a human was his defending of a football. He is slow and seems beatable at all times. His arrest in Greece has only added to his woes as he is currently a disaster in the middle. Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelöf are inadequate partners as well. Bailly has his moments, but they are rare and sprinkled in with rash behavior. Lindelöf is a good option as a substitute, but has no presence or pace to scare any forward. Going ahead with these 3 will be annihilation. The only bright spot is that now maybe Axel Tuanzebe takes his opportunities and becomes the star that he definitely has the talent to be.
United did buy Alex Telles from Porto to shore up the left side of the back line. The upside to the Brazilian is that he can bomb forward and contribute to the attack, which is something Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams are truly woeful at. To be a fullback at United, you need to patrol the flanks and join the forays into opponents’ areas. It isn’t easy. Especially today as Rashford and Greenwood are not the best at tracking back, so Telles and Wan-Bissaka are told to go up but also sprint back and cover, which is not all that sustainable over 90 minutes. But the club need an injection of energy and a peach of a left foot so Telles is a positive signing.
Look, the window went poorly. There is no other take. United did not get the only player they were after and they did not address gaping holes in the lineup (they did add Donny van de Beek from Ajax who never plays and seems to not be able to line up with Paul Pogba and Fernandes). And they also did not offload any of the deadweight. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are still collecting checks as Manchester United players. I do not understand that. I don’t even think Rojo lives in Manchester anymore. Sergio Romero is one of 4 goalkeepers just getting paid to never play (Dean Henderson is far above him in the pecking order). The club did loan out Diogo Dalot to Milan and Andreas Pereira to Lazio as well as finally sell Chris Smalling to Roma. So, there was slight progress in that department. But in general, it just wasn’t good enough.
How many chances does the Board get to right this ship? When can the club finally figure out that they need a Director of Football or anybody who knows the sport to close deals? How many sponsors have to leave before the Glazers try to remedy this free fall? The world is watching and results will need to change quickly. The club needs to catch up. Otherwise United if not careful could be staring genuine collapse in the face.