New Dawn Fades

So new year, new Woodward leaving announcement. Although Ed’s time in charge has been characterised by indecision and incompetence, he saved one of his best until last. After taking an age to pull the plug on Solskjaer’s reign, he then decided to bring in Ralf Rangnick in an interim role. I’m not pouring scorn on Herr Rangnick’s credentials here, it’s just I can’t quite get my head around the decision to appoint an outsider on a temporary basis. Why not just pay any compensation due and bring in the preferred choice now? I don’t see what’s to be gained from recruiting a handful of new coaching staff who’ll likely be surplus to requirements in 6 months’ time. 

I know Rangnick has been promised a consultancy role beyond the end of the season, but we all know that’s just window dressing and his input will be negligible once the next manager is in place. I predict now that he won’t last very long because United don’t accommodate football people amongst the nodding dogs holding true positions of power. “We desperately need an overhaul of ze operating structure at zis club.” “Oh, cheers for that Ralf, very insightful. I’ll tell Joel when he calls in next week. He’s scuba-diving in the Bahamas, currently.”

If you think I’m exaggerating, recall what happened last time anyone stepped out of their lane and tried to challenge the power structure at the club. I know Mourinho went quietly bonkers during the autumn of 2018, but there was a time a few months prior to that when he still had all his faculties in place. Mourinho wanted Maguire in and to be rid of both Pogba and Martial that summer, yet the people above him at the club knew better. That turned out well, didn’t it? The pair of them still need bombing out of the place 3 years on and Maguire (rightly or wrongly) was signed 12 months later for a vastly inflated £80M. Do you honestly think the board will do anything other than pay lip service to the recommendations of a consultant? They decided not to listen to a manager who’d won multiple European trophies.  

Excuse my cynicism, but if United genuinely desired an experienced director of football to control budgets and make strategic decisions, they would made such an appointment years ago. Instead, they considered it for a while and then chose not to bother. That’s why we’ve suffered nearly 10 years of abject failure under Woodward’s direction, completely out his depth and haplessly veering from one catastrophic managerial appointment to the next. Consider the club’s global standing when he took charge back in 2013 and consider it now. It’s no exaggeration to say his time in charge has been an unmitigated disaster.

So does Rangnick’s proposed consultancy hint at some recognition of this and are changes likely? Of course not. By promoting Woodward’s long-term understudy and fellow Bristol alumni Richard Arnold, the club have signalled their intention to follow precisely the same path they’ve been on for the last decade. It’s a direct like-for-like replacement that shows exactly where priorities will remain until the Glazer occupation eventually ceases. The pursuit of profit trumps any desire to return United to the pinnacle of football. Millions will be squandered on meme footballers and share dividends whilst midfielders remain unsigned and OT becomes so decrepit it’ll resemble a relic from a previous century.

If Rangnick figured he had a job on his hands when taking over, a month later the full extent of the task he’s facing is quite evident. The response of the players to a more demanding regime has been every bit as underwhelming as you might have anticipated. There’s been no upturn in performance levels and the body language continues to speak volumes about the lack of character in the squad. Fair play to the lads, they gave it all of 3 weeks before the whining commenced and leaks began to appear in the press. One only hopes that the (checks notes) 17 players allegedly seeking a move get their wish over the coming weeks and months. 

The chances of a mass exodus are non-existent, sadly. Previous years have demonstrated how wildly off-kilter United’s salaries are compared to other clubs, so players are content to see out lengthy contracts without seeking a move. The manner in which we’ve accumulated such a bloated, underperforming collection of entitled “George Clooneys” is just another damning indictment of Woodward’s tenure. Failure and mediocrity have been rewarded routinely. Patience is shown when it’s simply not merited. Standards haven’t just slipped, they’ve been retired completely. 

Whether it’s Ralf or the next manger who’s tasked with plotting a course for the club over the next few years, something radically different is required. Signing players in their mid-thirties has to stop for starters. No matter the class of Cavani, I simply don’t see how the overall investment is worth it when the player is pining for warmer climes and constantly injured. Oh so they’ve had a chat and he’s agreed to stay until the end of the season? How very noble of him honouring a contract he only agreed 6 months ago. 

This is a more controversial one, but I still don’t see what Ronaldo has brought us aside from a boatload of hype and several last minute goals. You could justifiably point the finger at his teammates, but being totally honest, the lad himself has been largely anonymous in the majority of games this season. He’s not the biggest problem at the club by any stretch, but he’s certainly not improved the team in any way. There’s no sense in buying expensive cake decorations when you don’t even possess the basic ingredients to bake one. Or some such metaphor, I dunno. 

One thing we do have to thank Ronnie for is a place in the CL knock-outs, because we wouldn’t be anywhere near there if it weren’t for his timely contributions during the group stage. February’s tie in Madrid now represents the single bright spot on the horizon as the team continues to churn out successive execrable performances throughout these dark winter months. Call me deluded, but I’m clinging to the hope the team might possibly replicate what Chelsea and Liverpool have done previously; sniding their way to the final despite being miles off the pace in the Premier League.

I know, I know… deluded as I said. 

Copyright Red News – January 2022

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