Manchester United have undergone a painful transitional period from the retirement of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The legend is often used, but in Ferguson’s case, it is an apt description. The fact that United have struggled to replace the fiery Scot just shows how good a football manager he really was for United. The Red Devils have since employed David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
Meanwhile, current incumbent Jose Mourinho has now been at the club for close to two and a half years. Many are now questioning whether the Portuguese boss can move United in the right direction.
Slipping further behind City
On Sunday, United suffered a 3-1 defeat against arch-rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. In reality, a defeat against the Citizens is nothing to be ashamed of, as most teams suffer defeat against City, not just the Red Devils.
However, what is more, important than the defeat against their rivals is the fact that as a team they have fallen so far behind them. United for much of the last two decades were the standard-bearers in the Premier League. Now everybody connected with the club has to look on in envy, as City are the league’s dominant force. However, instead of getting closer to their neighbours in terms of quality, United have slipped further behind in recent years.
Poor recruitment by United
There is no question that Manchester City have spent more money on players than Manchester United since Ferguson’s exit. In fact, the Citizens have spent more money than most clubs in the European game in the last decade.
United have spent money, but it is how you spend the money that is important. Just spending money is not enough to bring success. The investment has to be strategic in nature.
While City have identified the weaknesses in their squad and brought in quality players, United have struggled for success in the transfer market. The high-profile signings such as Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku has yielded mixed results.
Pogba has produced flashes of his brilliance, while Lukaku has spent recent games occupying the bench. The signings of Viktor Lindelof and Eric Bailly again have produced mixed results. United have failed to sign the necessary quality of player for vital positions in recent windows. That has resulted in the team struggling to challenge for the big trophies.
Boss Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful head coaches in the last two decades. Yet even he cannot fathom a way of bringing success to United.
United now just scrapping for fourth-place
United boss Mourinho has faced the reality that the Red Devils are unlikely to challenge for the title. A 12-point gap to champions and league leaders Manchester City is not going to be bridged with the Citizens in their current form.
The Red Devils are now in a real fight for a top-four spot and are now down to fifth favourites to claim a Champions League spot this season. Their odds to clinch a place in Europe’s elite competition are hardly surprising, as they are currently seven points behind top-fourth place Spurs.
United can still bridge the seven-point gap to the north London team. However, there are no guarantees that the men from Manchester will claim a Champions League spot this season.
Their current situation is worlds away from the majority of the Ferguson years. It must hurt United fans to be so far behind their neighbours, but it is a reality they might have to get accustomed to for foreseeable future.
Will Manchester United finish in the Premier League’s top four this season?