By Adam Joseph
It says a lot that after the weekend’s horrendous defeat to Sunderland that Manchester United are now in arguably just as bad a position as they were when under Moyes this time two years ago.
Not many would have thought upon Van Gaal’s appointment that they could plunge the depths they did with the Scotsman once again, but they have been proven wrong. Every time a new low is hit it seems to be topped by the next “performance”.
According to Albert Einstein, a definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results.
This is what is happening at Old Trafford, as the Manchester United hierarchy have failed to learn from the calamitous David Moyes era and are now repeating the same mistakes under the equally disastrous Louis Van Gaal.
Ed Woodward has been a protected species for a long time, his commercial success buying him good will in the boardroom and, crucially, with the owners. For many though, he will always represent the Glazers ownership and all they stand for, which is the bottom line above all else. On-field performance is beneficial, but it is always second best to financial prowess.
The club signs sponsorship deal after sponsorship deal. United have monopolised their brand in a way that has never been seen, but may have sold their soul in the process to do it. The Glazers don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon despite continued fan outrage at their ownership, but the club as a whole is not learning lessons from previous experiences.
Under the Moyes regime, the Scotsman’s sacking was inevitable for a long time. Performances got worse and worse as Champions League football slipped out of reach, as the team failed the beat the simplest of opponents home and away. It was only until Champions League football was mathematically out of reach that a decision was finally made and Moyes was given his marching orders.
The obvious reason that the club made this decision was finances. With the Champions League out of the question, it activated a cheaper payout clause in Moyes’s existing contract. Is lightning about to strike twice with Van Gaal?
Performances have been better than they ever were under Moyes, particularly in big fixtures (the Dutchman has a perfect 100% winning record against Liverpool). But the fact those performances are so few and far between that every single good display can be remembered is the problem. They shouldn’t be an anomaly; they should be the standard at this point. But they aren’t.
The first half against Stoke was a scintillating 45 minutes of attacking football, where United started to resemble the team who put together a brilliant run through March and April last season. However, since then until they scored against Chelsea, it all came to a halt. Normal service resumed against Sunderland, and they were outplayed and defeated by the team 19th in the league. It is not good enough.
Eighteen months and counting into Van Gaal’s reign, United’s on field routine is one that lacks inspiration, innovation, attacking play or defensive solidarity (sometimes both at the same time), heart and ultimately all characteristics fans demand of their team. The club as a whole is a laughing stock, now bordering upon becoming what Liverpool slipped into after years of success.
Mistakes aren’t becoming lessons learned, and with each mistake the problem itself worsens. It seems as if it is Groundhog Day in Manchester. When will the cycle end?
Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.
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