Another season has come to a depressing halt for Manchester United, one that has seen no silverware again. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a mammoth task on his hands if he is to right the ship. With every day that passes the task looks harder and harder. It is tough to see a scenario where he pulls it off as well; in fact, it is looking more and more likely that Manchester United will never be successful again.
It all seems so long ago when he got off to a flying start, introducing attacking football and fluidity back to Old Trafford. This run culminated in a wondrous night in Paris and his celebrated appointment during the March international break, it was hard to see any reason for worry.
Since then however, it has been nothing but depression provoking hardship after hardship. Losses in the FA Cup, Champions League and a terrible turn in results at the end of the season has left The Red Devils in the Europa League. The pinnacle in Thursday night sporting entertainment.
The first port of call would be to blame him, but this is different, never has a team switched off completely until now. By the sorry end, the players looked bored, disinterested and unable to perform at a consistent level. Five-yard runs were treated as marathons, tracking back felt like a chore. Watching them was utterly painful.
The players tried to throw him under the bus, but after poking the hornets’ nest, they have received a very different reaction to the one they had anticipated. £90 million man Paul Pogba is the main culprit, a player who wants to be perceived as a leader but does not want to earn it. Players like Vincent Kompany, Roy Keane and Paulo Maldini all earned their leadership status through overcoming adversity; Pogba wants to earn it through social media gimmicks and a flashy lifestyle.
This seeps into the dressing room, Anthony Martial is just one player who saunters around the place without a care in the world. A slap in the face of fans who have put him on a pedestal despite multiple barren spells in front of goal. There is no urgency, no resilience and no quality, the eleven that started against Huddersfield are not a team, just individuals chasing money.
There is one man behind this, a figure who is omnipresent and ultimately the obstacle the club have to overcome to gain success once more. That man is Chief Executive, Edward Gareth Woodward.
First off, he has employed the wrong managers who in turn bought the wrong players, erasing the identity of the club. His transfer policy is reactive and sensational; he would rather target the name than a player who can fit into a system, creating a team of divas.
Divas who demand the most premium contracts, Alexis Sanchez is one of them. He is the worst signing in the club’s history, has hardly played and has thrown the wage structure at the club into chaos. His £500,000 a week he nets, if you are to believe the reports, has created a wall-street style stock market in the dressing room. Squad players like Ashley Young and Ander Herrera are demanding superstar contracts that they don’t deserve. Pogba and David De Gea are holding the club to ransom with the threat of their departures.
Woodward’s focus on business paired with his ineptitude at understanding football have cost United dearly. His vision for the club is one of “commercial success” not football success. He will back Ole with money, but not with the player’s he wants.
Manchester United will keep going in circles until someone just turns the Old Trafford lights off and calls it a day, unless the rickety old stadium falls down before that happens.