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OPINION: Mourinho wasn't what was wrong at Man Utd

OPINION: Jose Mourinho wasn't what was wrong at Manchester United

December 18, 2018 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
Jose Mourinho may be gone but Manchester United's problems are far from fixed.

Football, in its beauty, operates on a grand scale of time. The successes currently enjoyed by big European clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, among others were not achieved in just a season but over time. In that respect, the platitude that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail is emphatically rehashed and the downward spiral Manchester United has gradually fallen into can be associated with this.

Regarding the plague parallel with the English club, a few educated guesses can be made as to what its root cause is. But one fact that remains is that Jose Mourinho was not the problem at Manchester United… at least not all of the club's problems.

While the Portuguese manager can get a fair share of the blame for his inability to make the right signings after spending over 350 million pounds, publicly criticizing his players for inconsistencies in their performances, while failing with 'sentimental' matchday selections, other factors which features roles played by the club's board, chief executive Ed Woodward and the players can be underlined.

For starters, the final two to three years of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure as Manchester United served up glimpses of the mishap yet to unfold. Ardent fans of the Red Devils can attest to the fact that for some reason, the legendary Scottish coach successfully managed to get the best out of a squad that was in every sense average. But the success was not sustainable considering the club had not put any measures in place for a smooth transition – both managerial and playing personnel-wise. 

All things being equal, David Moyes was never going to provide an instant fix despite being recommended by Sir Alex. The board, in every sense, failed with his appointment as he came in without any notable accomplishments under his belt. It was only a matter of time until the Scot's inexperience at managing a top club revealed itself in the dreadful transfer window he had.

With the weakness in the side now wholly established, Louis Van Gaal had to inherit a team that finished seventh in the league upon the abrupt termination of Moyes' contract. Mind you, the former Everton manager's initial contract as Manchester United manager still has five months to run.

Regarding Mr. Van Gaal, the club failed by exposing its players to endure the ordeal of dealing with a manager with the reputation of being dictatorial. Despite making 13 signings to supplement the fringe squad he adopted, the Dutchman's authoritarian nature evidently didn't reap dividends neither did it motivate the set of players he had to adapt to the 'philosophy' he consistently trumpeted.

Fast forwarding, Mourinho arrives and he is faced with the colossal task of managing a group of players that have been very disjointed in the last few years. He has to undo all of the prejudice before him and implement a new tactical system (again) that's supposed to produce great results in the shortest possible time.

As it turned out his League Cup and Europa League successes in 2017 proved to be inadequate although the tale could have been different if he indeed had the club board's backing in the transfer window this season. But one would expect him to have done better with the £350 million+ he already spent, right?

According to David Conn of the Guardian, the Glazers – the current owners of Manchester United – milked £87 million out of the club last year. The family had £18 million dividends paid to them, another £56 million made from a share sale and finally £13 million in executives' salaries. Their 2005 takeover, executed by banker Ed Woodward (current Chief Executive of the club), has cost the club £1 billion while debt of £487 million has been accumulated.

As the Manchester United Supporters Trust has called for following the departure of Jose Mourinho, a fundamental review of the football operation to reset Manchester United culture and playing philosophy is very much needed. However, there is serious doubt that the activity will materialize knowing the club's hierarchy has failed to put measures in place in order to keep the 'cash-cow' attractive and alive.

So Jose Mourinho may be gone, but the Manchester United's problems always transcended the Portuguese manager's "Third Season Syndrome." Go figure.


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