Manchester United finished sixth last year and won nothing. It’s been six years since we won the Premier League title or, for that matter, even managed to mount a title challenge. Ahead of the new season starting, the country’s best journalists have contributed to the RoM charity season preview to discuss several things, including who is at fault for our current predicament. To read their thoughts in full on the transfer window, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment and who our most important players will be this season, buy the preview and help contribute to a great cause.
Daniel Taylor, Chief football writer for The Guardian/Observer:
It has to go to the top of the club and, by that, I mean the Glazers. But it’s a bit of everything: Fergie, for instance, choosing David Moyes when you could have had Jose Mourinho in his pomp (rather than the sour and damaged version we saw a few years later). The players have been unfocussed and, in many cases, just not good enough. I mean, it sums up how low United have fallen that a midfielder such as Ander Herrera – decent but nothing more – leaves and there are supporters pining for him on Twitter. But there’s more to it than that . . . I’ve spent more time at City than United this last year or so and they seem to be ahead in everything behind the scenes. They might not have your fanbase. But pretty much everything they do, they do it better.
Henry Winter, Chief football writer for The Times:
The Glazers. If you’re so obviously all about money, then that sets a tone where some players focus on finance rather than winning. The culture has been wrong. It’s taken Solskjaer’s return to restore proper principles. Focus on the football, and the rest (the rewards) will follow.
Woodward is no Gill, another reason why the clubs values have drifted. But he seems to have understood the need to be United again, focusing on the right characters rather than marketability.
A couple of things to say as a journo: United’s media team are one of the most likeable of the Premier League clubs. I respect Charlie Brooks who’ll walk round the press room pre-match and occasionally mention certain things he thinks I’ve been unfair on; he defends the club well without being blind to the issues. Plus your stewards in and around the press box are brilliant; passionate Reds and always good for a chat.
James Ducker, Northern Football Correspondent for The Daily and Sunday Telegraph.
It’s been a collective failure. The anger towards the Glazer family is entirely understandable but I’m not so sure it would be anywhere near its current levels had a proper structure being implemented behind the scenes with the right people in the right places making better decisions. Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to operate on a relative shoestring during the early Glazer years but there is little doubt the club have spent heavily since he retired – just really badly.
The recruitment has been a shambles. I recently compiled a list of United’s 10 best signings in the decade since Cristiano Ronaldo was sold – and did the same for their domestic and European rivals – and it made for very sorry reading.
Successive managers and Ed Woodward and those around him need to take the blame for that. Even the best coaches will suffer if the structure off the pitch is not right. You look across the road at Manchester City and they have a shrewd, experienced, visionary CEO, a respected director of football with extensive contacts and experience and a trusted scouting network and an inspirational coach who improves players. The contrast with United could not be more stark.
James Robson, Manchester football correspondent for The Evening Standard:
It can’t be put down to just one factor. There have been a catalogue of mistakes that have led United to this point.
Appointing the wrong man in David Moyes set them on their way – as did Louis van Gaal’s wastefulness in the transfer market.
Mourinho brought a period of stability and success – even if it ended up in failure.
I still believe that after delivering two trophies, another final and a second place finish, he deserved the chance to build on his first two seasons.
Who knows where it would have ended up. It’s hard to see signings like Yerry Mina and Willian turning United into champions – but the failures of last season date back to Mourinho’s frustrations in the transfer market.
Compare Liverpool’s spending last summer to United’s and what a difference it made to Jurgen Klopp’s team.