The revival of Manchester United is a cliche that has been constantly repeated in English football since Alex Ferguson left. Everyone remembers that dominating club that was respected not only in England, but also all the way in Europe. “You know Cristiano Ronaldo, Tévez, Berbatov, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Ferdinand, Vidić, Van der Sar. It was an incredible team”. This is what Pep Guardiola said in 2019 to BT Sports on remembering the 2009 Champions League final. He was Barcelona´s coach when they beat United.
“That Manchester United was amazing, they were an exceptional team”
Guardiola to BT Sports
The club has a very different aspect now. Actually, it seems normal to assimilate that those glorious days will not come back shortly. However, they still have a strong financial structure. According to the KPMG consultancy (one of the top 4 of most important companies in the industry of the world), Manchester United is the second most valuable club in the world: they are worth 3.342 million euros. But this economical power is not reflected on the team´s outcomes.
The club´s investment on Solskjær´s era:
Edward Gareth Woodward, more known as Ed Woodward, is the executive vice president of the club. That means that he is the one in charge of completing signs on each transfer market. That makes him to be one of the fans´ targets for critics when The Manchester United don´t succeed. If we take aa look at his job so far, he added Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo to the squad the first entire season under Ole Gunnar Solskjær. This way, while James and Ighalo are meant to be substitutes , the other three strengthened key spots that really needed an improvement.
No doubt that Bruno Fernandes is the one who has performed at his highest level so far. After 28 matches played, his numbers show that he has produced 28 goals (between goals and assists). He has become into one of the stars in the team and he is already a key part on Solskjær´s lineups. Moreover, he is one of the leaders in the locker-room. He even was the captain at their last game against PSG in the Champions League, as Maguire was out.
However, the central defender´s performance is under criticism. His individual mistakes are on the spotlights. The high expectations on him due to the price of his transfer (£80M) are the reasons for the fans to demand more from him. On the other hand, Wan-Bissaka has turned into a decent full-back and very effective on defense. However, he struggles to make offensive runs and is not providing too much forward. It is true that he was shown some improvements in the last few games or, at least, when dribbling. He is only 22 years old, so he still has time to grow.
The latest transfer market brought Donny van de Beek, Amad Diallo, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri and Edinson Cavani. We must remind you that Diallo will joint the squad in January, as he will obtain his work permit by then. Furthermore, Pellistri, who is only 18 years old and must get used to the new league and country. His addition will only give results in the long term.
On the other hand, Van de Beek has created a lot of debates around him. It is true that Solskjær loves his versatility, and there is no doubt that he provides the team with more options to enter from the bench, which will be crucial as the season gets to the last stage. This way, he will start once in a while to give some rest to other players.
“It is a new league for him and he is a top player. Of course he is anxious to play more. You will see him throughout the season. It will be a long year and he has impressed me”
The Norwegian coach on Van de Beek at the October 23rd´s press conference.
Cavani has not made his debut with Manchester United yet and Telles played his first sixty seven minutes in the meet against PSG. For this reason, we can´t really make any conclusions from his performance so far.
The investments that have not been made, such as the exciting sign of Jadon Sancho that did not happen, or the central defender that can improve that area´s level (discussed due to Lindelöf and Maguire´s performances), also have an influence on possibilities for the staff along the season. Anyway, they still have another chance to strengthen the team in January´s transfer market.
What are Manchester United goals?
Ed Woodward recently explained on an interview conceded to Daily Mail in October 21st that the Board of Directors is committed to the objective of winning titles and and display an attractive and offensive football. All this with a team “formed by academy players and top quality signs while we carefully manage our resources to to protect the club´s resistance in the long term”. The reality is that Manchester United´s owners, the Glazer´s family, have proved during the last seven years that they do not have the capacity, or even the will to run the club towards the right direction in order to return to the elite.
On the other hand, Solskjær has bet since he arrived to United on creating a squad with academy players in the base along with English players. Even though he has been questioned several times for his lack of experience at the highest level, and even mentioned as as a coach with little tactical knowledge, he has obtained acceptable outcomes if we take into account the tools he has been given. In fact, the board of directors have defended his role so far they consider that he needs more time to earn better results.
This season (his second at the club), all the spotlights are on him. Their start at the Premier League has not been exciting at all. a loss to Crystal Palace (1-3), a suffered win against Brighton (2-3), an humiliating defeat versus Tottenham (1-6), and a victory against Newcastle (1-4). By contrast, their debut in the Champions League ended with a win against PSG after a great team´s performance and a decent tactical job.
The season is long and the Norwegian coach has been given time from the owners. Qualifying to the next Champions League and a proper outcome in the current edition seem like reasonable goals for them. The FAA Cup and the Carabao Cup are also two big opportunities to conquer the first trophy on the Solskjær´s era.
It is clear that the measuring stick of the current Manchester United can´t be the same one than the Alex Ferguson´s one. The club has suffered a tough crisis due to the poor management by The Glazer. It is not easy either to repeat what the Scottish coach accomplished. In conclusion, the team is expected to take a step forward this season comparing it to the last one. We will see if the investment, apart from what could happen in January, is good enough in order to fulfill the goals.