Manchester United is in crisis. They have won just two of their last 10 Premier League games, at home to Norwich and Brentford, and have lost the last four matches scoring just once, an own goal. They haven’t won an away game in the Premier League since February.
Recruitment has been a disaster: the club almost exclusively sells players for less money than they bought them, their highest-paid star wants to leave and their new manager is already struggling despite adding several sorted signings on the pane to the team. Manchester United’s successful transfers over the past decade can be counted on one hand.
What’s more, Old Trafford has been left to rot, the training facilities need major investment and while the Glazer family remain at the helm, money will continue to be drawn from the club to repay around £500m of debts and associates. interest, as well as paying the Glazers themselves in bonuses and dividends. Other than that…
So how can it be solved? How can Manchester United be restored to the top of European football, or at least to the top half of the Premier League? Here are the succinct solutions from our sportswriters:
Ben Burrows: United remain almost unique in that a true low season could be tolerated on the record. They should take advantage of this and eliminate bad contracts – Ronaldo’s first – even if it means limited financial return and a step back on the pitch. Ten Hag can then select based on style, not reputation. Specific areas of need can be identified in January for summer recruiting with time to secure agreements. Hire a football manager or equivalent from outside with autonomy and consciously walk away from Ferguson and the class of 92.
Michael Jones: Convince the Premier League to get rid of live football and just show repeats of the 1998/99 season which won the treble. Failing that, United need to invest in a capable director of football and come up with a style of play to rival Man City and Liverpool. It’s not easy and it will take time (years, not months). In the meantime, focus on youth development, pull out the dead wood – is Phil Jones still around?! – and stop giving players ridiculous contracts. Sort through the transfer cases and keep faith in the manager… Or just go ahead and bring Fergie back.
Karl Matchet: Michael Edwards, Luis Campos, Michael Zorc, Dan Ashworth, Marina Granovskaia, Antero Henrique. All are available, [supposedly] retired or changed jobs this year and neither signed up or even apparently discussed by United. When club decision-makers appoint someone to make decisions for them – at least in terms of pitch, recruitment and strategy – then regeneration can potentially begin. A guy named Ralf Rangnick was also good at this job. The mentality of the team is damaged beyond repair in many cases, even though technically they are outrageously good players. Press the reset button.
Laurent Ostere: A viral Gary Neville rant persuades the Glazers to sell to a benevolent billionaire or a Gulf state. They appoint a world-class sporting director who is implementing a five-year plan by investing in hungry young players who retain their market value. Overpaid underachievers are sold cheaply to get them off the locker room and off the payroll, but Marcus Rashford is revitalized and launches his own cryptocurrency. Erik ten Hag is given time, backed by an elite recruiting team that prioritizes one or two key additions each window. Debt repayments are now invested in the stadium and training facilities.
Alex Pattle: Give Erik ten Hag time. On paper, he’s probably their most sensible appointment since the takeover (I know, football clubs aren’t registered in 100 words or less on paper…or maybe they really are?) . You have to give him a few seasons and many transfer windows to make the right signings, and the bad ones. A competent football manager would help. Also, forget the pretense that United are still a ‘big club’ on the pitch and be patient. The shortest answer would be ‘sell the club’, but the owners are the problem and you’re not firing yourself, are you?
Jack Rathborn: Short term? Give Erik ten Hag the power to make an example of someone, conveniently Cristiano Ronaldo would oblige, but Harry Maguire could also work. Sacrificing one of the many underperforming and overpaid stars would create space and fair opportunities in the team while setting clear standards to be met. For too long, those in the field have regularly acknowledged that this is not good enough. Ten Hag should have the possibility to insert repurcussions. Medium to long term? Give it the sporting director to compliment an overarching idea to at least observe progress, even through inconsistent results, on the pitch.