Rock Bottom is the New Limit for Manchester United
The title might look confusing but my thoughts are crystal clear. And this might seem like a rant for the next 5 minutes, but please go through it to have your share of laughter at the expense of a Manchester United fan. Remember, dementors from the Harry Potter universe? That’s what watching this team for 90 minutes does to you. Sucks all the life and joy of watching football from you. The brand of football which everyone recognises Manchester United for has already been in the grave for almost a decade now and there’s no hope to see it rising anytime soon from its death. While you wonder how low this team can stoop, you still never run out of surprises.
I have been a cynical fan for a few years now but what else to be when the team just derails all the confidence come halfway point of the season. While a draw at Aston Villa after being 2–0 up isn’t the first of such incidents, it just twists the knife in the wound. One can still win after being down but can never win in the absence of a belief. A belief to win the match, be champions, win silverware. Something which seems to be missing on and off the pitch. Rightfully were we mocked before this match by Gerrard who continues to haunt United even in non-Liverpool colors.
The feeling in the United camp was different at the start of this season with star signings of Sancho, Varane and the return of the favourite son, Cristiano Ronaldo. Turns out to be all sizzle and no substance. This team needed to walk before learning to fly. But guess what, these guys cannot even crawl at the moment, it seems. We went from Ole at the wheel to the same Ole thrown under the bus. We brought in the so-called Godfather of Tactics, but not sure if he forgot his notes or everyone is just sleeping in the classes. Nonetheless, it feels a different side for sure.
One thing which you could still feel better about a United team of the past was the effort and accountability of the players. These intangibles more often than not kept the team in the game. It feels these lads aren’t taught the meaning of these words. I have never seen a bunch of whinier and privileged players in that red shirt. Absolute lack of character, competitive attitude, work ethic, consistency, physicality. There’s no sense of urgency until there’s a sword hanging above the shoulder. But until then, it’s already too late. A dead man shows more life than this team. Some players do need a special mention as their contribution has been extraordinarily ordinary.
There are a few players United should trade for a chump change just to show them the mirror. Maguire should be the captain for these players as well and lead them out of the stadium and the club. It’s a shame this guy is able to sleep in the night after snoozing on the pitch. I have never seen a man captain his club and country after dismal performances day in and day out. At this point, the best he can do for the club is warm the bench for the players who are subbed out. Where do I start with Pogba? Let’s just be done with this ungrateful individual and let him go in peace. Letting go of this drama queen with assists and goals in single digit won’t hurt this team anymore.
Even if we let the players off the hook, what do we do about the coaching staff? It’s a clueless bunch of people who seemed to have ridden in the coattails of Ferguson. They look like a deer caught in the headlights when asked to contribute something to the team. Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal have all parted ways with the old-age belief in English coaches. It reflects in the team performance on the pitch when the United team looks clueless against the tactics of these rival teams. It is no longer an era where teams could stroll towards the finish line of the season and win it all. With Manchester City’s dominance in the Premier League and Chelsea Liverpool winning the Champions League, United has been left in the dust. So far that you can’t even catch their glimpse in the rear-view mirror. There’s no confidence heading into a fixture against the top teams, especially when we have got used to being thrashed in our own backyard.
It’s also a club that has shifted its focus from football to brand value. No one’s telling these geniuses that it can’t happen with such a terrible display on the pitch. United is no longer in contention of attracting star players. No one wants to play for them, not even the ones on their payroll. They have got 99 problems and yes football is one amongst them. American team owners fail to understand tier structure in European football and hence the importance of competition and staying at the top. In American sports, the team that finishes last gets the best pick of the rookies. While in Europe, it pushes you out of the premium leagues. More so, United has made signings just for the sake of it and not keeping the team’s vision and progress in mind.
While all the teams have made significant strides, we have gone back to the days when David de Gea was our best player. The team has been consistently inconsistent in various departments like set-pieces, corners, possession-based playmaking. There’s no identity to this team and the opponents are no longer intimidated by this club. There’s a reason why Old Trafford is no longer a fortress but rather a giveaway stadium where everyone gets 3 points. I am not sure how long this team will rest on its laurels. Not long when the fans could see the United Trinity hanging their heads in shame while greeting the home fans.
Cristiano Ronaldo recently said that the club should aim for nothing less than a top 3. Easier said and done for a man who has never played for a team that settled for anything less. But someone please tell him that the players are breathing in the air of mediocrity and it has settled in their mindset to fight only for the bare minimum, i.e. top 4. Everyone got angry at Mourinho for saying that United finishing second in the season was one of his highest accomplishments. Guess what, we haven’t done anything better since. This is a stubborn breed of players who can’t own their mistakes but rather cry and jump ships on criticism.
Manchester United has been a laughing stock and rightfully so. They are a mere shadow of their past and will no longer stay relevant at the current rate. Football is supposed to be joyous but being a United fan currently is anything but the opposite. It’s all but over this season but it is tough to watch the impending doom. The seemingly little progress the club made over the last couple of seasons has vanished in thin air. At this point, we are way past rock bottom for the club of this stature. Let’s just pray this team finds something to hold on to while they can.