Opinion: The slow decline of Manchester United

It was always going to be a major problem replacing an icon like Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. We only have to look back to 1969, when Sir Matt Busby informed the board that he would be stepping down as manager.

Those of you who are old enough will recall that Wilf McGuinness, Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton and Ron Atkinson all tried to fill the large shoes left by Sir Matt.

Throughout that period, United managed to lift three FA Cups. But the glory days of lifting league title’s didn’t return until 1993 when a certain Alex Ferguson finally found the winning formula.

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The problem with finding an adequate replacement for Sir Matt Busby is parallel with the challenge that the club faced in 2013.

United have been in the post Sir Alex Ferguson slump since then. In that time, we have gone through David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds himself facing the same fate as his predecessors.

Following another string of poor results, Ed Woodward is at a crossroads. Yet it is still unclear on which way the club should turn.

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But United haven’t helped themselves. Sir Alex always seemed to bring in the right kind of player – with the odd exception – but under Woodward’s stewardship in the transfer market we have been way off the mark.

The return on the level of investment has been nothing but woeful, with no real title challenge and a handful of disappointing Champions League campaigns. The hurried signing of Alexis Sanchez just to prevent City getting him, the most calamitous example.

How can other clubs seem to get their scouting and recruitment decisions spot on, Leicester unearthing players like N’Golo Kante, Rihad Mahrez, Harry Maguire, Çağlar Söyüncü and James Maddison for next to nothing.

Time and time again, we find ourselves bent over by chairmen who know full well that if they set a price for a player, United will cave in and pay it.

Our approach last summer was to sell the most reliable goalscorer, not replace him and expect unreliable goalscorers to become reliable goalscorers.

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These are football decisions taken by businessmen at an establishment that will no doubt cite again during the next quarterly investors’ call how United is the biggest club in the world.

The club needs objective voices, qualified people with proven track records. Not former players who are simply passionate about Manchester United.

A different manager is needed, a proven top class leader rather than an under-qualified interim boss like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The struggle for goals, the apathetic away days, the squad limitations… it is all so predictable and all so avoidable.

My fear is that mediocrity is beginning to become the norm.

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