Is Manchester United’s current situation in the transfer market a reminder of “the chief cornerstone which the builders reject?”
United used to be the club great players wanted to play for. The 26-year-era of Sir Alex Ferguson brought the club out of the mediocre circuit in English football to become one of the European football giants.
No one ever thought Scot’s retirement in 2013 after years and years of trophy-laden sojourn at Old Trafford, will herald them into
one of the most difficult periods in their 144-year history.
The club’s history cannot be complete without the mention of the former Scotland manager. Sir Alex brought to United some of the biggest names in world football and developed a whole lot more from the academy. The successes he brought on the pitch literally on their own
made United a globally brand admired by top footballers who wished they laced their boots for the club.
Nine years after Sir Alex took the final bow at the Theatre of Dreams, the nomenclature has drastically changed to an arena of nightmare and gnashing of teeth. As the club slumped from the top of the football echelon in terms
of achievements, so is their brand in the eye of everyone, including their fans, who have become disgruntled over how fast the club has depreciated on all fronts.
The club didn’t have a road map to success post the Ferguson era. New club owners emerged in the Premier League, including across town at the Etihad, and Liverpool. Uniter lost reckoning in the league they once dominated, and a club that was known to see the league title as their birthright now struggles to make top-four.
Last season was one of the worst in United’s record. They finished with zero goal difference and again lost out on the UEFA Champions League qualification. They and serial top-four contenders, Arsenal, lost
the spot to Tottenham Hotspur who had struggled at the beginning of the season.
United’s record in Europe’s elite club in nine years is even worse. They have not reached the semi-final in the few times they played in the competition. Their best success in the continent is the Europa League won by Jose Mourinho in 2017.
Though they are still the second most valuable football club in the world after European kings, Real Madrid, and United have certainly not only lost their identity but whatever attracts players to the club has been lost.
Five managers in nine years underscore the struggle to return among the
elite sides in Europe. They have lost out on transfers for some of the best players in European football lately. They have linked to Erling Haaland back at Borussia Dortmund two seasons ago while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still at the wheel. Haaland was far less convinced about joining the club and will be donning the colors of their city rivals next season.
One of the major issues United faced last season was scoring, with 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo left to score close to half of the total number of goals they netted. The position is one new manager Erik ten Haag wanted to strengthen. The club moved for Uruguay striker, Darwin Nunez, who rejected them over the lack of Champions League football next season and chose Liverpool, who approached him much after United reached out to his agent.
United is also strongly linked with RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku. Leipzig picked one of the Champions League places in the Bundesliga, while United will only play in the Europa League. The young French forward may also break the English side’s heart and decide to stay back in Germany because of Champions League football next season.
So many are United’s afflictions and the way out is currently not feasible.