Things at Old Trafford have not gone well in recent months. The great Manchester United sides of the 2000s are now a distant memory as the current iteration of the Red Devils looks a pale shadow of the teams that dominated the Premier League and were the scourge of Europe.
And now, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, it seems United are about to embark on a fresh new chapter. But is simply changing the manager the answer to their problems? We look at three key factors that need addressing as United bids to return to the pinnacle of English - and European - football once again.
1. Appoint a world-class manager
Right now United are a struggling club with no direction and the Premier League betting odds show United are a staggering 1/10 NOT to win a major trophy this season. For United fans, that’s unthinkable... but it’s the reality.
To change their fortunes they’ll need to bring in better players and better mould the ones they already have. And to achieve that, they’ll need a world-class manager in the mould of their legendary former boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.
It sounds blindingly obvious, but for a club like United it’s critical that they have a big name in the big job at Old Trafford. Simply hiring a competent boss without big-name value has proved to be insufficient at the club before - just ask David Moyes.
The reasoning behind that is the fact that, for United to compete they’ll need big-name players, and having a star manager will only help to pull those players in.
So, bringing in a big name to run the show is crucial.
2. Say “au revoir” to Pogba
Too often, it seems players are more interested in building their brands off the pitch rather than delivering on it. And nowhere does that seem more valid than in the recent behaviour of French midfielder Paul Pogba.
The talented midfielder may have won the World Cup with France in the summer, but his performances for United have been way below the level expected for a man of his ability. Clearly, he had issues with Mourinho, and his ill-judged and poorly-timed social media posts titled "Caption this" in the immediate aftermath of the Portuguese manager’s firing have only served to paint Pogba in an even worse light, with Manchester United legend Gary Neville firing back at the Frenchman on Twitter.
“ Caption This “— Gary Neville (@GNev2) December 18, 2018
You do one as well !
Sir Alex Ferguson certainly wouldn’t have tolerated the sort of behaviour we’ve seen from Pogba, and it would perhaps be some sort of poetic justice if the new man at Old Trafford sends the Frenchman out of the Old Trafford exit door next.
If Pogba’s attitude was deplorable towards Mourinho, there’s no reason to suspect it might not be the same towards any other manager. And for the incoming boss to show the Frenchman the exit door upon his arrival would send a clear message to the rest of the United dressing room: “I mean business.”
3. Invest in young talent
United’s great success under Ferguson was built off the back of a phenomenal youth policy that produced an incredible crop of players at Old Trafford.
But that model for success appears to have been abandoned in favour of big-money signings and seemingly scant regard for the development of the club’s own talent.
It’s a longer-term strategy for the club, but one that needs to be brought back in as the club looks to not just be competitive now, but to have a sustainable way of regenerating their squad without throwing countless millions at overseas players.
The mantra is simple: “Buy the best, but develop the rest”.