Manchester United, the biggest team in Premier League history.
Since the English football completion’s name was changed to Premier League in the 1992/1993 season, United has won 13 of them, clearly marking a hegemony if we consider that their followers are Chelsea with only 5 Premier´s in their showcase.
Nevertheless, it now has been 7 years since the red devils won their last Premier League trophy. 7 years in which not only United fans but football fans are wondering what happened to great the United.
Most of the time great football teams pass through really rough moments athletically speaking but it doesn’t tend to last long. However, United´s poor performances had haunted the team frantically during the past 7 years.
If there was a precise moment in which United´s fortune started to change, it was when Sir Alex Ferguson stopped being the club manager.
Ferguson left Manchester United as the biggest history club legend and also as the best manager of English football.
Having won 13 Premier Leagues and 2 Champions Leagues during his time at Old Trafford, when Ferguson finally decided to step out of United´s bench in 2013, he left an immense hole in the team.
Ferguson was a man capable of making his United competitive regardless of the year, rivals, and play style he played against. Also, he represented the biggest revolution of English football history not only on the pitch but in society as well.
Sir Alex, turned United into the biggest club of the world not only with titles but with the millions of fans that his team accumulated around the world, without even mentioning the fantastic work he did with all the youngsters during his time at Manchester.
Ferguson simply left an irreplaceable mark on United´s history, a mark that is still empty in today´s Manchester United.
Additionally, Ferguson was a great sports director as he was in charge of all the transfer planning. This was a great advantage for the team because Ferguson usually bought players who he knew would fit in their playing philosophy in the short and long term.
Unfortunately, United hasn’t been able to establish a new playing philosophy since Sir Alex left, and therefore the team has been signing many players without knowing what to expect from them as the team doesn’t even know what it´s play-style is.
Identity crisis, the first key aspect behind United´s failure.
The team went from heaven to hell in just one day. They pass from being probably the most consolidated project in the world´s football under Fergurson leadership to a strayed team without a course to follow.
For 26 years, Ferguson was Manchester United manager. Now, in only 7 years the team has had 5 different managers in charge, and to add insult to injury, each of them with completely different coaching and playing-style.
David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been Manchester managers throughout these seven years and all of them implemented a different coaching method.
This was counterproductive for the team as the players never really finish to adapt to a play-style.
As part of the identity crisis of the team, the transfers became another problem, which takes us to the second aspect of the team fails, the transfer policy.
As it was mentioned before, with Ferguson, United signed very talented players but with a purpose behind the purchase, something that hasn’t happen with their latest managers.
Falcao, Di Maria, Marcos Rojo, Alexis Sanchez, Diego Dalot, Mkhitaryan, Depay, Darmian, and Schweinsteiger, are only some of the players that didn’t succeed at Manchester even when they arrived at the team as world-class footballers.
Then, we have some successful transfers like Pogba, Matic, Mata, Lukaku, Fred, and Fellaini. Nevertheless, in the cases of Fred or Fellaini, it is hard to understand how a team that used to have the best players in English football started to aim for this sort of player.
No, they are not bad players but they lack the hierarchy that a Manchester United player is supposed to have.
For instance, Ighalo its been having some good performances this season, but when Lukaku left the team we were expecting a great forward to sign for United, not a player how came from the Chinese league.
To sum up, the problem with the transfer policy is more than just signing good footballers without a purpose as it appears that Manchester United is now conforming with the signing of players that aren’t world-class ones, something that United was used to.
It is understandable that due to the no qualification for the Champions League, the team fails to attract the best players in the world, however, they still are the club which generates more money thanks to marketing and brand products and this make them a team hard to beat, economically speaking.
The truth is that despite many people say that United is a project under construction, for such a big team to be under construction for 7 years is more like a crisis.
A crisis is normally generated by a mixture of motives and in the football world it doesn’t come down only to what happens on the field.
Manchester United biggest problems come from outside the field. The team’s biggest problem during the last decade are their owners, the Glazer family.
If there is a reason why United doesn’t have a clear course to follow is that the owners hadn’t even bothered to try to solve the team problems.
Problems with the Glazer´s started since day one, as when they bought the club in 2005, they decided to pay the former owner 511 million pounds by lending them from the club. This means that they didn’t pay for the purchase of the club as they took the money from the team to pay the purchase.
And just in case you were wondering, the total amount of the debt is still of 511 M pounds in 2020, 15 years after the Glazers bought the club. This shows how much the family cares about the club, even when they have enough money to cover the debt as we will show next.
Fortunately for the Glazer´s, Ferguson’s success helped to forget the debt as the team earn more money thanks to the tittles won and all the commercial success. Even after the Scottish departure, United has managed to become the third richest team of the world.
However, thanks to the poor sport management that the Glazers are giving to United, every year the revenues of the team are decreasing and are expected to continue this descent line if the team keeps underperforming.
According to the Football Money League, the most reliable source for football team financial performances, United won’t be on the top 3 teams next year.
In comparison to the 2018 revenue, United has earned 37 million pounds more in 2019, meaning and increase of 6% (711 M pounds in total), but this little growth was due to the team qualification for the 2018/2019 Champions League.
But as the team fails to qualify for the current Champions League, the revenue will see a great decrease during the 2019/2020 season, just as it happened in the previous year as it is shown in the chart below.
United´s revenue decreased 12% from June to December of 2019 just as Football Money League predicted. According to the BBC news, this negative impact on the revenue is a direct repercussion of the team absence in the Champions League as their broadcasting revenue fell by 33.4%.
Furthermore, both the matchday and commercial revenue had either stranded or dramatically decrease during the past few years, as represented in the charts below.
If you thought it couldn’t get any worse, United is not only bleeding to death due to their poor performances and decreasing economy, because they are being robbed every year by their owners the Blazer brothers.
As the Blazers had decided not to pay the debt during the 15 years they had been in charged, the club had lost around 1 Billion pounds only in interest and fines.
On the other hand, the chairman/” sport director” (sports director between quotation marks because he doesn’t know much about football) they put in charge in 2013 is their former banker, Ed Woodward, which by the way is the most paid director in the Premier League as he won 3.16 M pounds last year, an exaggerated cipher.
Just as a fun fact, it is good to remember that Woodward helped the Glazers with the purchase of the club back in 2005.
Even worse, the Blazer´s relocated Manchester United company registration to the Cayman Islands a tax haven. There, they had been doing with the club´s money all sorts of transactions. Last year they took 23 M pounds for their self’s just in “dividends”.
In 2010, the Glazer brothers received 10 M pounds from the club in “management and administration fees” as each of them also borrowed 1.66 M from the club just because they need it.
The Glazers also decided to sell a huge amount of shares on the stock exchange of New York. Therefore, they won a lot of money selling shares that they didn’t even buy in the beginning. They have earned around 200 M by selling “their” shareholdings.
Currently, all this money doesn’t affect United´s balance, but if they continue walking this path the club will eventually sink in all these problems.
It’s disappointing to see how owners like the Glazer´s disrespect United as an institution and along with it all their fans. Thanks to this kind of people, many others around the world think of football as the Glazer´s do, a place to win money.
They can’t see the history behind it, or the sociocultural impact they caused by destroying a team because football goes beyond money, and that is something that nobody can forget not even the ones on top of it.