The sorry state of Manchester United
Manchester United is the richest and the most famous football club in the world. Once a legendary side that inspired awe and respect, they have fallen far indeed. Sure they perform decently in the Premier League, placing within the top tier teams every season (apart from a few hiccups). But for a club with Manchester United's pedigree, every season without a trophy is considered a failure in the fans' eyes.
The 1990s and the 2000s were fantastic decades for Manchester United. In a period of 20 years, they managed to win 11 Premier League Titles, 16 Domestic Cup Trophies and 4 European Trophies.
Their relentless attacking football was a joy to behold and world class players like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo did the fans proud, week in and week out. Most transfers proved to be solid although with varying degrees of success.
The youth academy was in full swing, producing players who were not only talented and hardworking, but were also fiercely loyal to the club with a few exceptions.
This winning combination of fantastic youth development, astute transfer market business and a stable management capable of inspiring the team to famous victories meant that the 2000s were a good time to be a Manchester United fan. Like all good things though, this came to an end.
On the 9th of May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson announced that he would be retiring from his position as the manager of Manchester United. This announcement sent shock waves throughout the footballing community.
Sir Alex had been with Manchester United for 26 years by then and had been an integral part of their successes in the previous decades. How would an aging Manchester United squad manage without him?
They didn't. Things began to fall apart the very next season, under David Moyes, ' The Chosen One' appointed by Sir Alex himself. A disappointing transfer market followed Sir Alex's departure, with Marouane Fellaini being the headline signing.
As for the Premier League season, Manchester United finished 7th, outside of the designated European spots. Unsurprisingly, Moyes was sacked and Louis van Gaal was appointed to right the ship.
Van Gaal didn't do much better and departed under acrimonious circumstances two years later. Enter Jose Mourinho. A highly regarded manager who had proved himself in not only the Premier League, but also the La Liga, Serie A and had also lifted the Champions League Trophy with Porto in 2004. He was tasked with bringing Manchester United back to its former glory.
Two years later and we can conclusively say that he has not achieved that. Yes, Manchester United placed second on the table last season, but they finished 19 points behind the champions Manchester City in the Premier League and were eliminated in the round of 16 against a lackluster Sevilla side.
While fierce rivals Liverpool reached the finals in Kiev and yes, signings such as Lukaku and Bailly and Pogba have been fairly successful, but previous signings such as Shaw, Martial and even youth products like Rashford have been neglected and denied regular playing time.
Coming into this season, there were many areas in which Manchester United needed to strengthen, including defensive and midfield positions. However, the transfer market has been a fairly quiet one at Old Trafford, with the Brazilian Fred and the Portuguese young full back Diogo Dalot being the only signings.
To make things worse, Mourinho seems to have reverted to his Chelsea ways by throwing his players under the bus and firing shots in every direction. There seems to be a dissonance between Mourinho and not only the Manchester United board, but also the players and it is reflected by their unimpressive performances on the pitch.
Things are looking bleak at the moment for Manchester United, with only two weeks to go before the transfer market closes and with Mourinho publicly criticizing his players during pre season.
At this stage, it seems to me that it would take a herculean effort on Mourinho's part to keep his position beyond this season. Maybe that would be for the best though. It has been too long since Manchester United havlost their fear factor and it is high time for the long missing Red Devils to terrorize opponents once again.