We Are Not United | Can Ole Stitch the Club Together?
Manchester United, the entire institution – the club itself, and it’s global fanbase, is currently plummeting haplessly like a dysfunctional satellite forced to re-enter earth’s atmosphere without an adequate heat-shield or mechanisms for deceleration. This chastening descent is abrasively ripping at, and threatening the structural integrity of the United body as it tries to withstand all the frictional forces that have come to bear.
📷 Tanguy Ndombele scores for Spur leaving United defenders in his wake
Not unlike how Mourinho’s men of industry ripped through United at Old Trafford. Spurs left a wake of puzzling chaos at United’s backline, Maguire and Shaw did not cover themselves with glory and the reds double pivot of Pogba and Matic looked as if they were at sea, and at loss on how to cope with the torrent of incisive questions asked by Tottenham – It was a complete capitulation.
The United environment, the fabled theatre where dreams are realized, and the social media arena that contains it’s worldwide fanbase of red devils in the millions, has turned decidedly toxic – and we have to identify and recognize this to have any hope of reversing it. Some might feel there isn’t unambiguous evidence that the club environment, both on the pitch and digital landscapes, have descended into toxicity. But we must be alert to the tell-tale signs…
Natalie Thomas staging of toxic environments is both simplistic enough and regrettably telling -
We've all been in them. Situations so dire we lose hope, becoming the very person we pitied, dreaded, swore we'd never become.
While unhealthy intimate unions can wreak havoc on the psyche and may inform the way in which we treat others, it's usually an insular thing. Group dysfunction, however, is far-reaching and often much more dangerous. They say there's safety in numbers, but there's also destruction - Natalie Thomas
Three painful barren seasons and seemingly perpetual rebuilding cycles has left United’s passionate fans apprehensive about the club’s commitment to regaining the apex position on that pedestal that Sir Alex Ferguson helped conquer and retain. The chief antagonists in this tale are the American capitalists, the Glazer family, who own the enterprise and who have compromised the integrity of the institution by placing an executive structure captained by non-football merchants, and are also compromising the natural immunity of the club by riddling it with debt.
📹🎙 Footie Fantasy Podcast Reviewing United Vs Spurs Result
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was seen as an unseasoned manager without an immaculate resume, but a club man who might be able to re-animate the club once again, bring it back to its culture of impulsive fearless attacking, relentless hard work, and a commitment to a no surrender attitude.
There was, and still is, healthy skepticism about Solskjær’s bonafides, however his vision of how he wants to re-make the United team has been for the most part appealing. The players he has brought in, and those targeted in the most part represent a departure from some of the haphazard recruiting of the past.
His team has so far has proven streaky at times, going on impressive if not dominating wins, each one fueling momentum for the next, while in contrast, they have also been frustratingly slow out the blocks at other times, including the present.
Finishing 3rd in the EPL was probably the best position the club could achieve in light of the opposition; any objective observer would admit that was the most realistic position the club could have hoped for. The letdown was really not going further in the cup competitions. Three semi-finals are a fine haul but is also an indication that Solskjær’s project was still somewhat undercooked.
United slow frail start to this season’s proceedings also seem undercooked, whether due to fitness issues, a truncated preseason, over utilization of core players last season, or too many players not hitting form – whatever the reason why United have been shadow boxing, falls squarely on the manager. However, we have seen Ole lead this unit through rough uneven patches before. What we have not seen is the United board and owners actually delivering for the team in any consistent manner.
Take the recently closed transfer window for example. United negotiators spent the entire window chasing the top target, Jadon Sancho, who was identified before the close of last season and yet they could not close that deal or any other top tier deal save one, Alexis Telles.
Every other player was a secondary or tertiary target. Cavani represents a proven even if aging performer who brings both pedigree and a different dimension to United’s frontline, hopefully one of those dimensions is consistency. Alex Telles is one of the best attacking backs in the business and adds to United’s portfolio of dead ball specialists.
Pellistri and Traoré (joining in January) represent United’s attempt to groom their own Sancho, both are well-regarded young players with loads of potential. The delightfully tricky and guile Traoré has a dash of box office to him, but it took a failed attempt form Parma who were in the process of acquiring the player to give United an opportunity to prise him from a delightfully blooming Atlanta academy.
Leaving it to the very last hour dovetailed seamlessly with the already existing sentiments that the way the club went about navigating the market was an embarrassment, and not befitting of a big club. Lot’s of literature will be written about the Sancho escapade but the persisting truth is that the club owners failed to sanction the deal, if they had, Sancho would be suiting up for United now.
For these reasons and a myriad of others, most especially the outcome of transfer business of other EPL clubs, even considerably smaller ones, the only deserving measure of United’s performance in this window is a failing one.
This distaste left in fans mouths, and fans anger towards the board and owners has permeated through the entire United contraption. Fans have channeled their anger erracticly at times, lurching from one target to another. It was the at times uncommitted French maverick Paul Pogba at one point who attracted the scrutiny of fans (one fan even verbally accosted him on the field), the moody Martial, Fred, Periera, De Gea, Lindelöf, and now in the cross hairs is Shaw and the captain Harry Maguire.
Criticisms of any player or actor in the club who is under performing in relation to the high standards aspired to should be fair game, however, some of the rhetoric is devolving into the dark shadowy recesses of humiliation, personal attacks, up to the accusations of mutiny – especially following the fan frenzy on social media.
📷 Ole Gunnar Solskjær sternly looking onto the pitch as United fall to Spurs
It was recently reported that top senior club officials have had a chat with Mauricio Pochettino, sounding out for a potential takeover. This is a classic stick and carrot tactic United’s board employs to light a fire under their current manager, and signal to the public who lies in waiting in the wings if results don’t improve.
It was done in the same exact way to Moyes, Van Gaal, and Mourinho before him. Solskjær now more than ever must look to stabilize the ship, and get his team to hit their optimum potential and effort. Winning will be good medicine for the club and its beleaguered fans. If he can not succeed in this endeavor, and move decidedly if not selfishly, to instill some visible leadership and esprit de corps on the pitch, then he should either step aside or be swept aside. As it stands United are a house divided.