It’s been a tough couple of years bring a Manchester United fan. We all knew it would be a rebuilding process from the time Fergie decided to call it a career, but it’s been the years now and it feels like we’re still in demolition stage and have not even broken ground on the rebuilding process. Goals like the beauty you see from Scholes above used to come around at least every couple of weeks, a result of an absolutely cavalier style of attacking football United used to play. I can’t remember the last time I saw a goal like this from United, at least not these past two seasons. And the games are just a dread to watch, mostly a long series of back passes or wishful attempts.
First there was the David Moyes era, where a series of desperate or questionable buys were made to ‘beef’ up the squad. Why were United, still reigning Champions then, going after a mediocre defensive midfielder from a mediocre team, such a big fuss? Fellaini’s subsequent performances only made things worse. 30 million for an unproven left back with injury issues didn’t help either, when other clubs grabbed equally young but far superior talent for less. Even the moguls at City and Chelsea seemed to be spending their dough more wisely than United.
Then in came LVG, a proven and multiple title winning coach in top European leagues. Hailed as a savior and the true successor to Fergie they should’ve hired from the start, he was given free reign from day one to mold the squad as he saw fit. In the blind belief that LVG was building towards a masterplan of sorts, fans tolerated as one by one he axed the remaining of Fergie’s fledglings. Out went Rafael as LVG saw fit to pay Antonio Valencia as the primary right back. Next came the wild spending the likes which have never been seen before even in United’s heyday as the undisputed richest club in the world. Di Maria, Bastian, Memphis came in proclaimed as the next generation who would make United world beaters again. So far, it’s the lesser names like Darmian, Blind, and Herrera who have shown promise, yet have whose contributions have been limited by LVG’s refusal to play them at their natural position or to play them at all. Watching Di Maria’s performance as PSG knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League, you really have to wonder if it was the fact that United lacked world class talent, or was it that LVG had no idea what to do with the talent who were brought in. Mata, Herrera, Rooney, Memphis have all seen better days under different regimes.
So here we are this season, with no real shot at any silverware, we’ve sunk to the point of hailing Jose Mourinho as the ‘special one’ who will save United. A lost season indeed, but there is a bright side yet. After two decades, this is the season it seems there is a shift of power beyond the traditional ‘Top 4’ (or more recently, 5 including City). Chelsea and Liverpool are both faring worse than United. City are only one point away, while Arsenal have fallen behind Tottenham in the title race. Leicester might just shock the world when all is said and done. You could say this has been a transitional for most of the top clubs, but let’s just hope there is an actual masterplan beyond this season. Or we could be staring at yet another offseason of ‘Gareth Bale for 100mil’ headlines, but starting next season with some 50mil teenager.