This coming Wednesday,10th April, Barcelona come to Old Trafford for the first leg of what could and should be a mouth watering quarter final clash in the Champions League. However the reality is that Barcelona are the European royalty on show as Manchester United are now a shadow of a football team when you talk about the higher echelons of Europe’s finest. A bumper crowd and massive payday is a guarantee, worryingly that is how the English club seem to define their being ahead of improving on the pitch and challenging for the biggest titles and trophies.


United’s season has been one of downs really with the odd sprinkling of delight. Whilst the Jose Mourinho times are long gone, the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reign has hit the buffers (they are in their worst form of the whole season) after an extraordinary run which culminated in that remarkable 1-3 victory over PSG which got them through to the last 8 of the Champions League. Sadly it is looking like that is as much as will be celebrated in regards to footballing achievement this season, though the share price went up so all is well for the suits.


Despite the remarkable turnaround in fortune that has somehow seen them in the mix for a top 4 place (that is their level now, despite fighting talk at conference calls from Ed Woodward) – the recent defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers showed everything that is wrong with the football team. Players who can’t play simple passes to teammates, players who cannot control the ball properly, players when the chips are down not being able to impose themselves on the opposition, willingly hiding instead of stepping up. The lack of leaders in this Manchester United team is alarming, not helped by the chosen captains (the club one does not even play nowadays) being average players which I’m sure are not listened to, especially when the chips are down, because their status as players is not up to the relevant standard consistently. Earlier in the season everything was all Jose Mourinho’s fault, he can’t be used as an excuse now. One thing is for sure the issues at the club don’t just stem down to one person as some people would have you think. Yes it is banter, but says everything when the Wolves fans are singing “can we play you every week” at the so called mighty Manchester United.


As it stands, it is looking like a tall order for Manchester United to qualify for next seasons Champions League as they are most definitely not going win it, unless the luck they got in beating PSG continues at an even higher rate as the other teams still in the competition aren’t as weak minded as the French champions. They do have 6 matches left in the league and in my opinion will need to win all of them to stand any chance of getting a 4th place spot or better. It does not help when the manager gives a 15 point target to the team when they had 7 matches to play, very naïve thought process, especially as he said it before and after the Wolves defeat. This team needs to keep winning, draws not good enough, even more so now.


No Champions League will mean an exodus of players. Club captain Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian will leave on a free at the end of the season. Also Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are likely to move on to pastures new as their contracts are up too. Bear in mind players such as David de Gea and Paul Pogba won’t want to be plying their trade in Europe’s secondary cup competition and they may well angle to leave and to be honest I would not blame them too much. At their ages coming into the supposed best years of their career, it is understandable they will want to be playing at a club that is actually going to challenge for the biggest of trophies, especially in the case of the Spanish goalkeeper who owes the club absolutely nothing in my opinion. If it wasn’t for ‘Big Dave’, who is currently in contract talks, though they are at a stalemate as we stand, United would be even deeper in the mire and that’s a fact nobody who understands football could dispute. Personally I feel he is worth every penny of what he is asking for, but the money men at the club make all the decisions, even if they are clueless about the game itself.


The thought is that the reds of Manchester will spend big in the post season, however after finishing, albeit a distant second in the Premier League in 2017-18 season they spent just over 70 million last summer, even though there were obvious gaps in the squad that needed filling. It should come as NO surprise they have gone backwards, even in January during the new manager uplift it was plain to see that they needed a new commanding centre back but didn’t even bother to try and get one, they are paying for this as we stand. Remember, the clubs resident football idiot Ed Woodward has previously said a number of years ago “We can do things in the transfer market that other clubs can only dream of”, clearly not, judging by his record, just the ramblings of a somebody whose football knowledge is the square root of very little, it has hardly improved over the years either.  Sadly it seems that football is seen as a secondary issue at the club – profits, share price and PR is a bigger priority, note the announcement of the new manager on a very slow news day, it was like it was planned for maximum effect.


Whilst Ed Woodward is undoubtedly a commercial genius, his running of the football side of the club has been awful. He has already sacked 3 managers, who got various amounts of stick, but the guy who has been there throughout since Sir Alex Ferguson left seems to have got away pretty much scot free in comparison. Players do not see Manchester United as a place where their football development will improve, seemingly they just a cash cow where you can pick up over inflated wages because negotiations are done with people who have no idea about football, they are to used to signing up sponsorship deals. Despite their decline on the pitch they are still one of the biggest clubs in Europe, as we stand, but they are not seen as a threat to any of the elite on the pitch. Sadly the arrogance of not having any sort of footballing structure within the club for the last 6 years has caught up them, who’d have guessed that, well anyone with any football nous, sadly there isn’t much (if any) in the board room at Old Trafford. Under the Ed Woodward regime their blue neighbours across the city are outdoing them in every facet in regards to the sporting side with an unprecedented quadruple still a real possibility and that’s not even mentioning that bitter rivals Liverpool may well win their first top flight league title for nearly 30 years, but the question is, does Ed actually care in this respect? They might as well just call themselves Manchester United Club nowadays as football does not seem to be the major priority it should be anymore.


Well apart from likely immiment Champions League elimination, expect a lot of outgoings, a few incomings, mainly official sponsors. Ignore the reports of all these so called players that United are in for, speculation is one thing but getting them over the line is something else. Ideally any deals will be done before United start their pre -season in July but don’t be surprised if the club are still scrabbling around come then as Ed seems to like a holiday in the summer, so it would not surprise me if they are there again close to the start of the season trying desperately to get somebody in before the deadline, which again shuts before the Premier League season begins. I hope I’m wrong but my advice to the new manager is – be prepared to not get who you want and have a contingency plan up your sleeve just in case, because you will be the one in the firing line once the competitive action begins, whilst Ed and his cronies, way out of the spotlight, count the money they have not spent just to keep profits up. Solskjaer failed at Cardiff, is he being set up to fail at Old Trafford, we will find out in due course.

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