Manchester United and the Theatre of Broken Dreams

Manchester-United-Theatre-of-broken-dreams
Manchester-United-Theatre-of-broken-dreams

Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams has become the scene of a few nightmares this season. United’s 1-0 loss against Crystal Palace was their second defeat in a row at home and their third in four games in the Premier League.

The Red Devils are seemingly trapped in hell at the moment, despite investing hundreds of millions of pounds in the first team squad and a revolving door of managers to boot.

Is this as bad as some are making it out to be, though? And how can the club that dominated the Premier League in its first two decades get back to regularly winning silverware like they were so used to in the past?

Manchester United and the Theatre of Broken Dreams

Ten years ago, Manchester United were the envy of every other club in England. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United won 13 of the first 21 Premier League titles, well over 50% of the championships available during that time.

The Red Devils also achieved a treble long before Manchester City completed their historic treble last season. Love them or hate them, United were the most successful English club of the 1990s and 2000s. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool tried their best to compete, but none of those clubs were as consistent as Man United during this time.

Credit: The Mirror

All good things must come to an end though, and Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 was always going to signal the beginning of a difficult time for the club.

That in itself is not a sign of a crisis, Arsenal went through similar troubles after Arsene Wenger left and the same will happen to Manchester City and Liverpool once Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp eventually leave their posts.

The issue is that it’s now been ten years since Ferguson left and things aren’t getting better. In fact, it can rightly be argued, that it’s getting worse.

Off-field scandals

Things have been bad off the field, but we really need to talk about the trio of off-field scandals that have marred the club in 2023-24. We’ve already gone in-depth with the Jadon Sancho situation, which, incredibly, is the least controversial of the issues.

The public war of words between Sancho and manager Erik Ten Hag has culminated in a player that was meant to be a star at Old Trafford being forced to train in isolation and the club potentially face a lawsuit. This isn’t dissimilar to what happened between Ten Hag and Cristiano Ronaldo, either.

The allegations of assault against Antony has meant that he was out of the squad, he is now available for selection again. Of course, Anthony denies all the allegations, but whatever the result of this investigation will be, it will affect him and his teammates.

In theory, it shouldn’t affect the Brazilian’s form on the pitch, but of course, this has the potential to hang over the winger like a dark cloud.

What has to be the most disgusting of the off-field issues though, has to be that of Mason Greenwood. We won’t pass judgement on here, but we invite you to listen to the recordings if you haven’t already.

Whether you think it’s correct for Greenwood to be given a second chance by United or not, the club’s leaked preparation for the backlash are downright awful.

One of these sagas is enough for any club to handle, but three at the same time is almost unheard of and it could be argued that these problems are a symptom of a club rotten to the core.

Money in the wrong places

We said last year that Manchester United fail because they’re run like a business rather than a football club and that couldn’t be more true. The Glazers’ investment in taking over the club would earn them a ten-fold profit if they sold it now.

Results off the pitch don’t necessarily correlate to commercial success off it, but for the supporters of the club, silverware is success, not a positive balance sheet.

A lot of Manchester United’s current problems can be traced back to the Glazers, but not in the way that Gary Neville will have you believe. The Glazers invest a lot of money in the club, it’s just not in the correct places.

While Manchester United’s net spend is the highest in the Premier League, Old Trafford is crumbling. While its capacity of over 75,000 is the largest in England, it is decades behind in terms of facilities when compared with the Etihad, Emirates and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Even Anfield has received huge renovations in recent seasons, but Old Trafford needs around a billion pounds of investment to bring it up to scratch. That is too much for the Glazers to invest, the fabled Sheikh would have to complete his takeover for that to happen.

And that money that is put into funding transfers could and should be optimised more. United’s recruitment has been woeful, as great players do not fit the club’s system and they suffer as a result.

It’s no coincidence that the likes of Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire, Angel di Maria, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial & Sancho all look great before moving to Manchester, where their form drops off a cliff. It’s poor recruitment, many classic expamples of the wrong player in the wrong place.

United will improve this season, but they’ve got a real battle on to secure European qualification for next season.

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