They have won a record 13 English Premier League titles. They are the most valuable football club in the world. But since the departure of Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have become a shadow of their former self — a team that reigned supreme for most part of the last two decades.
In the post-Ferguson era, United have acquired the services of three managers — David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho — but they have failed in keeping the club’s ship steady. Under these managers, the team has remained inconsistent and lacked the firepower required to win major trophies.
When Mourinho was appointed two years ago, it was hoped that he would bring the club back to glory days owing to his successful stints at the top clubs of Europe.
But two years down the road, crisis is deepening at Old Trafford. They have made the worst start to their league campaign in 29 years.
Besides the below-par performances, the players have fallen out with Mourinho. He has criticised his players publicly on a number of occasions following ignominious displays.
A manager picks his players up every time they fall. But Mourinho’s smugness has taken him way too far, which is hampering the progress of the club.
This is not the first time in his managerial career that he has lost the support of the dressing room. That’s what caused his downfall at Chelsea, too.
Mourinho knows very well that to cement his position at a club as big as United, he has to deliver trophies. Having failed in doing so, he has seen the writing on the wall and is employing face-saving tactics by putting the blame on certain players.
United have been winless in their last four games, and are gradually falling out of contention for the league title. They exited the League Cup last week at the hands of minnows Derby County. They then succumbed to a humiliating league defeat away to West Ham.
Their Champions League encounter against Valencia on Tuesday night was a drab draw. They didn’t even bother to attack against an opponent which is living dangerously in the Spanish league.
Manchester United currently sit at the 10th spot in EPL and more dismal results will compound misery for Mourinho.
Instead of basking in the glory of his previous accomplishments, Mourinho needs to dig in deep and pull the team out of the mess that he is partly responsible for.
Today’s football is different from that played 10 years ago, and that’s what some managers don’t realise.
Mourinho has complained about not being allowed to bolster his squad this season. But the same crop of players propelled the club to second position in EPL last season and helped punch the ticket to the Champions League by winning the Europa League.
The lacklustre performances clearly show that there is a crisis of confidence in the team and Mourinho is struggling to resurrect their stuttering campaign.
The brand of football that Manchester City and Liverpool have adopted — attacking football — is the one that has always been associated with Manchester United.
Can Mourinho mount a fightback and help United turn their fortunes around?
The chances are bleak. And the question is no longer if, but when he receives his marching orders.