Manchester United have struggled since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013. In the last seven years, the club has simply not been good enough despite being one of the richest teams in the world.
Manchester United looked like a side on the ascendency during the latter parts of last season when football resumed after a COVID-19-enforced break. Much of that run, which culminated in a top four finish and a Europa League semi-final place, was down to the signing of Bruno Fernandes.
However, the same old problems have resurfaced this season. A lack of key signings has threatened to derail the progress made from last season and the signs are already on the wall.
Manchester United may have signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax – and the Dutchman could be a fantastic signing – but more marquee signings are needed if the club is to once again challenge for top honours.
While the transfer saga involving Jadon Sancho continues to drag on, clubs like Sevilla are showing Manchester United on how a football club should be run.
The Spanish side does not boast the clout or financial muscle of the Old Trafford outfit, but they are currently more stable and are a better football institution than Manchester United.
In Monchi, Sevilla has a Director of Football who understands the game and knows what the club needs to compete. Sevilla’s spending over the years has been procedural and planned, as only players who fit in their system walk through the doors of the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
By contrast, Manchester United seem to be clueless in the transfer market. Too many players have arrived at Old Trafford and ended up being square pegs in round holes. Take Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao, and more recently, Daniel James.
There is a lot that the Red Devils can learn from the structure of Sevilla. The Spanish side is not just winning on the pitch, but off it as well.
They have a manager in Julen Lopetegui who is equally made for their system. That is why as Sevilla was matching Bayern boot-for-boot in the UEFA Super Cup with a clear identity, Manchester United fans may have been envious of the Spanish side.
They may have lost to the European champions, but it was clear that this was a team that came to compete. They hassled Bayern and looked dangerous at times, and could have won on another day, had lady luck smiled on them.
Sometimes it’s not all about spending. A team that is well-drilled and well-coached can make a difference as well. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have helped the Red Devils qualify for the Champions League, but his managerial nous is still suspect.
The Norwegian still has a lot to prove, especially when managers like Sevilla’s Lopetegui and Wolves’s Nuno Espírito Santo are doing better and squeezing good football from less expensive squads.
"We come to this game with high hopes. We have a real desire and we are excited to compete again. Playing against this team has to motivate us and make us grow,” Lopetegui said ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup.
"We are going to need the best physical, mental and collective characteristics of the whole team to be able to beat Bayern. We will try to get them to give their best version and face the game in the best possible way."
That is the mentality that Manchester United should have. Unfortunately, the Red Devils are currently a side that gives up far too easily in games. This Sevilla team is definitely going places, and it is this structure that Manchester United should be learning from, instead of it being the other way around.Published 25 Sep 2020, 11:00 IST