Manchester United needs to end its Los Galacticos farce
Another weekend of Premier League football, another loss for Manchester United. After a bad week (1-1 draw against Wolves at Old Trafford, losing out in the Carabao Cup), a victory was needed to boost the side's flagging morale.
The background noise before the match had been dominated by off-field issues. Manager Jose Mourinho had stripped Paul Pogba of the vice-captaincy after the French star's "attack, attack, attack" comments.
The issues with Mourinho, Pogba and poor results are not new. Post-Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United has been a mess footballing wise. After the failed appointments of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, the club was adrift and in need of direction. Mourinho was brought in to fix this but has been unable to.
Vice-chairman Ed Woodward has never hidden his desire for the Red Devils to eclipse Real Madrid as the world's premier football club. With that in mind, he sought to adopt Real's infamous "Los Galacticos" policy, the signature move of the Florentino Perez era. Time after time, Real broke transfer records; Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale.
The policy brought huge financial success for Los Merengues. However, sporting wise, it never delivered the expected trophies and left the team horribly unbalanced. Why Manchester United felt this was worthy of emulation may never be known. The club has spent £860.58m on playing talent since Ferguson left, yet there is little to show for it.
This is in sharp contrast to rivals, Manchester City. The Abu Dhabi Group had identified Pep Guardiola as the man they wanted. A plan to attract him was devised and followed diligently. The team from the academy to the first team has been built to fit in with his philosophy.
This clarity of thinking (backed by financial might) is absent at Old Trafford. Like a drunken lush, United have swung from coach to coach with no mid to long-term plan in mind. Four very different coaches (Ferguson, Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho) have led the team in the last decade. The result is the horribly misshapen team currently stinking up Stratford.
The cries for Zinedine Zidane show a lack of understanding of what is needed. Manchester United needs to forgo the overbloated ego with which it currently operates. There needs to be a realization that times have changed. More than a superstar big-name manager, the club needs a plan.
Mourinho represented a quick fix solution. He was appointed solely as a reaction to City's choice of Guardiola. In his mind, Woodward saw the Manchester Derby as an English "El Clasico". Given the attention/income generated by the original Clasico in Spain, he could be forgiven for wanting the same for the club.
However, Mourinho's methods/tactics have been shown to be inadequate. The Manchester Derby has had little of the competitiveness of the original Clasico. Manchester City has dominated its city rivals much like Pep's Barca did to Mou's Real Madrid.
A parting of ways with Mourinho seems inevitable. As unpalatable as it sounds, it could be a good thing. Without him, Manchester United will be forced to devise a plan.
Real Madrid; the club United are desperate to be, have abandoned the ruinous "Los Galacticos" policy and have reaped the dividends handsomely. A director of football is needed at Old Trafford to give the team direction. The old manager-is-everything policy which Ferguson operated with is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
A long-term plan backed by finances and hiring a manager who would execute the plan is needed. No superstar coach; be it Zidane or Mourinho will be able to solve all the issues Manchester United currently have.