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Direction, the greatest enemy at Man Utd [OPINION]

Direction, the greatest adversary at Manchester United [OPINION]

April 21, 2019 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
Forget about the managers, forget about the players, direction has been the biggest problem at Manchester United post-Sir Alex Ferguson.

It is 2019, almost six years after the legendary Scottish manager Six Alex Ferguson hanged his tools at Old Trafford and things are far from being normal. Despite the blips of success witnessed in the timeframe, what we have seen on a regular basis is the never-ending talk of the Red Devils being in a transition. A team revered as the most successful in the history of English football has been primarily reduced to a commercial institution that profits on its past glory and prestige and celebrates mediocre milestones while its rivals are rapidly rising to supremacy on the European continent.

Nevertheless, one particular factor that remains constant throughout these trying times for fans is the presence of the club's chief executive Ed Woodward. Backed by the board, the former accountant and investment banker has massively boosted the economy of Manchester United by securing sponsorships, endorsements, and partnerships for the club globally.

While posing to be one of the finest in that department, the University of Bristol graduate has failed massively when it comes to matters relating to playing the game itself. His inability to clearly define the direction of the club by chasing short term fixes rather than what may be sustainable has led to his side's gradual deterioration. Recent times have seen Woodward go against numerous indications to award contract extensions to prima donnas in the persons of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Ashley Young. What is more baffling is the fact that he refused to back former manager Jose Mourinho to sign a center-back who identified the subpar tendencies of the aforementioned. 

The consequence of this was incorrigibly defined at Goodison Park on Sunday as Manchester United's defensive fragilities saw the club concede its 48th league goal in the 4-0 defeat – the worst-ever tally in its Premier League history. With Woodward's incompetence becoming prevalent in that respect, news of the imminent appointment of a director of football could have brought some sense of purpose. However, it's been more than half-a-year since the speculations emerged and the said DOF is yet to arrive to salvage what is left of the Red Devil's wrecked ship.

Let's not even get started on the player-power at play in the dressing room at Manchester United. Yes, the previous managers after Sir Alex may have been catalysts in their own downfalls but would the situation have been the same if they genuinely had the backing of the board? Taking Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho as case studies, both managers saw the demise of their respective careers at Old Trafford as soon as doubt emerged about their futures. Once again, where is the direction when players do not heed to the words of the man placed in the dugout to call the shots or are not even certain of the length of his spell?


Now, there have been talks that Ed Woodward's permanent appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not be justified in the future as it was a sentimental call 'influenced by higher powers' at the club. While most decisions to appoint managers, sign players and sack managers in recent times have also taken a similar course, not much has been reaped from the frequent need to calm the nerves of fans and increase share prices with such measures. It is a borderline recipe for disaster and the signs could not have come earlier this season.

With Manchester United recording its worst away run in nearly forty years and registering five away defeats in succession for the first time since 1984 at Everton, it is fair to say that the players are not the only ones who need a reality check. Until firm decisions are made concerning the Old Trafford outfit's long term objective, fans will have to deal with the blunders of a man who needed more than 16 months to realize that handing Alexis Sanchez a £400,000-a-week deal topped up by lucrative bonuses including a £75,000 appearance fee was an error on his part.

Someone has been at the broken wheel for almost six years and it certainly is not Solskjaer and neither has it been Mourinho, Van Gaal nor Moyes.

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