The Emperor’s New Clothes
The first Devil in Me post came before the 2006/07 season and things were not looking great. Liverpool were resurgent and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were the pre-eminent force in the land. United were under a mountain of debt and had an ageing squad and a manager in the twilight years of his career.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s determination and, dare I say it, the steady hand of David Gill saw United climb to the summit of Europe once more and collect another five titles before the Scot swaggered off into the sunset. That Ronaldo chap also helped a bit.
As we enter the 2015/16 season the club and the team have had to reshape themselves after Fergie’s retirement and Gill’s departure. The Glazers still oversee and their man Ed Woodward is now using the commercial cash he has generated to rebuild the squad under the instruction of new manager Louis van Gaal.
An enormous chunk of this cash comes from Adidas, who will be paying United 75 million pounds a year for the pleasure of making their shirts for the next decade. The first of these kits is released today and has a distinctly 1980s feel about it. There is more than an echo of Norman Whiteside in the design.
But United need to be posting better results than they did at the end of that decade if they are to keep all of these financial plates spinning. Almost 230 million has been spent in the last couple of years and the team have put in about five decent performances.
Everybody is impressed with the quality of the acquisitions in the past couple of months, Schweinsteiger in particular is a real statement of intent. But the football was often stodgy last term and Van Gaal has to deliver now.
The club will watch on uninvolved in this weekend’s Community Shield match between Chelsea and Arsenal but those two clubs are the standard bearers as this this season begins. If United are not in that game this time next year, expect some heads to have rolled in the meantime.