When Manchester United host Leicester City on Saturday, it’ll be the first time the team have played together since tumbling out of the Champions League in rather meek fashion to Atletico Madrid. However, unlike the Prince B-side track “17 days,” there really won’t have been much singing and dancing in that seventeen-day break.
United are seemingly no closer to appointing a permanent successor to Ole Gunner Solskjaer than they were when he left the club on 21st November last year. John Murtough, a man with no qualifications to be an elite football administrator, is apparently the man tasked with making this call. Currently he is seemingly dithering between two men – Mauricio Pochettino and Erik Ten Hag – who oversaw equally embarrassing last 16 Champions League exits.
What’s more it appears United have had their heads turned to Thomas Tuchel. The current uncertainty at Chelsea has drawn United’s wandering eye like an errant husband weighing up whether to cheat on his partner at sales conference.
Such arrogance over appointing a permanent manager has encapsulated the Glazer’s stewardship of the club over the last seventeen years. The assumption that the club can cast its gaze wherever it likes and assume to object of such fleeting fancy will prostrate themselves in front of Joel Glazer for a job is ludicrous.
The arrogance of bringing in arguably the world’s best football administrator and tactical thinker of generation to act as a human shield for a toxic dressing room and not using his skills where he could really help the club.
The arrogance of appointing the deservedly maligned, Ed Woodword’s best mate from university as his successor, in Richard Arnold. A man who has a habit of not so much sticking his foot in his mouth as devouring the standard issue boots of the entire Black Watch Regiment for a midnight supper.
We are hurtling towards the close of the season, with little more than a distant hope of fourth place to play for. United need to be having the machinery in place to bring in and clear out playing personnel, especially with numerous players becoming free agents over the next 18 months.
Unfortunately, such planning is incredibly difficult without having a manager in place and with a blood-soaked World Cup dissecting the season in half, recruiting staff and players will likely be more complicated than before.
Should we be surprised that United are making the same mistakes as before?
We should not. United fans have been led into dead ends with attractively vague promises before. It is almost eleven months since Joel Glazer wrote a carefully worded open letter with some considered grovelling over the Super League fiasco that drew out the most vociferous fan protest since the Glazer’s bought in.
“I want to acknowledge the need for change, with deeper consultation across a range of important issues, including the competitions we play in. We also recognise the importance of fan and football interests being embedded in key decision-making processes at every level of the club, and we are open to constructive discussions on how to reinforce that principle.”
Joel Glazer, May 2021
The letter, in its entirety, was as carefully constructed as the extract suggests. Positive marketing-speak which seems to promise you the Earth but, on closer inspection is light on specifics and evasive on timescale. While the Glazers continue to evade accountability for United’s current ills, they pay themselves north of £16 million a year out of the club’s profits drawn through the heritage project of an expensive but poorly built playing squad, used to market all manner of products.
Bar some exaggerated headlines over rebuilding Old Trafford, nothing has changed since Joel Glazer briefly emerged from the shadows in May of last year. Woodward hung around like an unwanted bar fly at closing time, there are no serious offerings of empowered fan representation in the boardroom and the Glazer family have reverted to their standard radio silence in Florida.
We are again, met with the standard cold arrogance from Florida of an administration who are repeatedly allowed to get away with offering piecemeal concessions to disgruntled fans without needing to truly deliver anything. Unfortunately, like the club we support, it appears us fans have also allowed ourselves to be paralysed with indecision over what to do. Until something gives, United will stay in the same gloomy holding pattern it has been in for eight years.