Structure, midfield and focus: what Manchester United need to sort out now | Manchester United


The structure must support the manager

Manchester United’s peers in the Premier League have succeeded in different ways. Manchester City were designed especially for Pep Guardiola, with Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano in place as executives ahead of his arrival. Jürgen Klopp is Liverpool’s leader but works in tandem with Michael Edwards, a sporting director who has occasionally called off the German on transfers. Edwards will be replaced by his deputy, Julian Ward, this summer.

Chelsea have embraced chaos in multiple executive sackings while winning titles and the Champions League twice in the past decade, but have the structure to withstand turbulence, their back office expertly managed by Marina Granovskaia .

United’s structure beyond manager has been amorphous since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Each of his four successors left as an isolated figure, with David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho complaining of a lack of support and self-determination. Ed Woodward has normally taken the blame, but United insiders will tell you that part-owner Joel Glazer ultimately makes the big decisions. Woodward is expected to leave in January, although it is reported that he may retain a consulting role.

John Murtough was appointed director of football in March, with Darren Fletcher technical director. United sources suggest that this makes the transition process easier for the new manager, but there are sincere questions about the extent to which this duo can influence the bigger picture. The time to find a new manager must also be spent fine-tuning the relationship between Florida and Carrington’s training ground.

Midfielder overhaul

Michael Carrick’s role as interim manager before the interim is a reminder that 15 years ago, in July, United signed him as the last player to really improve his midfield. Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger are part of a gallery of thugs unsuited to the midfield bought since.

Fred and Scott McTominay are the butt of mockery, but it’s tempting to think Ferguson could have made them useful team players. They are not, however, of the caliber of their Liverpool, City and Chelsea counterparts, especially as a pair. United, who have spent a lot on defense and attack in recent years, need to sign at least two top midfielders if they want to be able to control the games. Too often, under Solskjær’s rule, they found the center of the park dominated by supposedly less important opponents.

Solskjaer 'honored and privileged' to have been Manchester United manager - video
Solskjaer ‘honored and privileged’ to have been Manchester United manager – video

Cut the cord Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo now appears as a vanity buy, with a record of five wins, two draws and seven losses since returning in September, although it can be argued that United’s only bright spots of the season have been spectacular goals. of Ronaldo such as those against Villarreal, Atalanta and Tottenham.

If this season is seen as a prolonged job search, then it should be used as a victory lap for Ronaldo while another home is found for him. He will be 37 in February and few serious coaches would appreciate having to engage such a player in modern pressing tactics. Losing him could affect the club’s market value and the share price, but a series of continued failures would be much more damaging in the long run. Ronaldo is no longer a player to build a future around, but his exit can be made easier, and probably also dealt with financially.

Quick guide

How can I subscribe to sports news alerts?


  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhones or the Google Play Store on Android phones by searching for “The Guardian”.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you are using the most recent version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the yellow button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Activate sports notifications.

Thank you for your opinion.

Try to forget the past

Solskjær was reported to have used Eric Cantona’s “when seagulls follow the trawler” line when speaking to Watford manager Claudio Ranieri after Saturday’s loss. It was the latest in a long line of chilling references to the long lost golden days at United, and Solskjær is by no means the only one trying to relive history.

Ferguson’s influence has regenerated in recent years. The power vacuum at the club allowed it, but Ferguson will turn 80 on New Years Eve and even would admit his united regime only succeeded once he emerged from the shadow of Sir Matt Busby . Liverpool’s recent successes came after the club modernized and decided to treat past glories as happy memories rather than a plan.

Sir Alex Ferguson (right) with Ole Gunnar Solskjær in 2019. Manchester United must treat the glories of the past as happy memories rather than a plan. Photograph: Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

Focus on football

At the heart of United’s problems is the feeling that the club are less focused on football than acting as a content provider and marketing tool. When Phil Lynch, the club’s media CEO, spoke last month about “fan sentiment charts” to gauge social media reactions to players, it gave the impression of a lost institution in show business rather. than in football.

Woodward has said on several occasions that the club is focused on football, but the club’s activities have suggested otherwise.