Manchester United have been a rudderless ship since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. Since that time, the Glazer family and Ed Woodward oversaw one of the most disastrous tenures in the history of modern sports. United went from perennial champions of England to a laughing-stock in global football within under ten years.
The Glazers, and by extension Woodward, have overseen this decline without a shred of decency, responsibility, but most significantly, guile. They’ve made mistake after mistake, consistently lied to fans and players, but most importantly not once has Woodward or the Glazers learned from their errors as they stumbled from one disaster to the next.
That is until now. Assuming they don’t find a way to screw it up, which I’m confident they will.
I’m talking of course about the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as “interim” manger for the remainder of the season. This “interim” period will then transition to a “consultancy role”, all left intentionally vague because United brass have no idea what they’re doing.
In Part 1 of this series, we’ll explore how the Glazers led the Club down a trail of despair and preview why Ralf Rangnick is the perfect man to clean up the mess.
Rapid Decline & Lack of Decency
Since I’m not a masochist I’ll try and keep this short and sweet. United’s recent decline under the Glazers is best captured in the three words I used above. Decency, responsibility, and guile. The Glazers’ and Ed Woodward’s deficiency of these critical characteristics precipitated United’s rapid decline.
Decency. Woodward forced-out, demeaned, and lied to countless Manchester United legends during the most important transition for the club since the departure of Matt Busby. Evra, Ferdinand, Rooney, and countless others we’ll never know about.
Beyond the treatment of former players, I can think of few things more despicable than owners continuing to take their £23 million dividend, through a pandemic. That’s above and beyond the £500 million plus in debt that remains on the Club’s balance sheet almost 20 years after their acquisition.
Responsibility to Club & Sport
Responsibility. To the Club, to the fans and to the sport. By crippling Manchester United financially they have failed the Club and the fans, leaving United ill-prepared to challenge against better-financed and better-run upstarts in the League. Chelsea first, then City, and now more recently the Aston Villa’s and Newcastle’s of the world. The Premier League has never been more competitive than it is today; because of that, our board and owners have never been more exposed.
Beyond failing United for nearly two decades, United’s owners went a step-further. The Glazers and Ed Woodward oversaw the most treasonous coup attempt in the history of the great sport, attempting to make it a closed-shop. I’m talking of course about the dreaded Super League flop. Woodward’s reward for a failed career was to oversee a closed League similar to the American sports model, where greed, nepotism and incompetence is often rewarded.
Thankfully fans of the sport collectively rose up and condemned the Super League. United’s reward, apparently for our collective sins, was an additional year with Ed Woodward that will likely be indefinite. Yay!
Einstein’s Definition of Insanity
Last but not least. Guile.
This is the most important trait for us fans, as it most closely correlates to success on the pitch.
The Glazers watched as Woodward made one mistake after another, without ever learning from even the most recent punch in the proverbial jaw. In 2013 they brought in Sir Alex’s pick in David Moyes and basically screwed the pooch from the start.
Woodward allowed Moyes to gut the entire staff Ferguson built over decades, failed to back Moyes in the transfer market and then sacked him after 10-months. The third shortest reign in Manchester United history for a Manager, at the time lol. They followed Moyes with the appointment of Louis van Gaal, after both Klopp and Guardiola turned down Woodward, smelling the desperation and incompetence a mile away.
As United fans know, Woodward handled van Gaal as poorly as Moyes and that track record has continued. Unfortunately, for American Red Devils around the world, the examples of deficiencies in this area are numerous enough to fill a college dissertation. Angel di Maria, Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Paul Pogba… I could go all day and this is only a sampling of errors around transfers and the managing of player contracts.
Time to hand the reigns to a competent German. Enter Ralf Rangnick.
Right Place, Right Time
Manchester United are in desperate need of a new footballing godfather to bring Manchester United back to the promised land. The history of this club has been built by men cut from the same cloth as Rangnick. Mangnall, Busby, Ferguson…. Every period of sustained success has been overseen by a trusted figurehead.
Ralf Rangnick is the perfect vanguard to oversee a proper United rebuild and prepare the club to compete in the modern era. Next week in Part 2 we will explore exactly why the German is the right man for the job.
Until then, here’s a message for the boys in the locker room in the meantime: