Manchester United Football Club is enduring a testing and win less time that is strange and alien to them. They are now further adrift of the top of the league than they were ahead at the end of last season, and have gone four games without victory. Poor David Moyes is sure to have understood the scope of his challenge at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson left him with an aged squad short of quality midfielders.
The current state of things have naturally lead people to doubt Man United will even qualify for the Champions League. Moyes offered some explanation on Saturday, saying his side is in transitional period. There’s little doubt there are issues to address at Old Trafford, and I believe things will get worse before they get better. The mighty United might be looking at one or two trophyless seasons before they reassemble their strike force, something I think most fans are bracing themselves for. Former United manager Ron Atkinson, however, thinks that’s not an option.
Fergie’s predecessor has rubbished Moyes’s excuse that the team is going through a transition, saying that he can’t afford that as Manchester United manager. Atkinson even stated that the minimum requirement every season is a Champions League spot – something I think we all can agree on – and a trophy, the latter of which seems unfair on Moyes, as Fergie had the odd trophyless season himself.
But at the centre of Atkinson’s argument, we find his claims that Man United cannot afford to go through a transitional phase. Real Madrid and Barcelona never go through transitions, why should United?
Now, for the sake of the argument I’m going to pretend Barcelona didn’t go six years without winning a trophy between 1999 and 2005, because it seems like Mr Atkinson has chosen a similar approach.
Although United should consider themselves on level with Barca and Real Madrid in terms of international influence and size, it is near impossible to ever compete with the Spanish club’s pulling power. Especially in recent years the two clubs have displayed their merit by attracting the biggest names away from the Premier League.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s departures to the Spanish capital illustrates the prestige Real Madrid enjoy around the globe. Manchester United themselves have struggled to attract big name-signings ahead of the the south European giants before. It seems that few clubs can really challenge them. As an example, United were in a prime position to sign Alexis Sanchez in 2011. The deal was all but done, until Barca hijacked the deal at the last second. Alexis barely blinked, his choice was that easy. The same thing that happened with Ronaldinho in 2003.
Man United doesn’t even boast superior pulling power over fellow English clubs. The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and arguably Liverpool will all compete on level ground in the transfer market. Despite their massive dominance the last twenty years, the Red Devils will probably never enjoy the infamous stature of the two Spanish teams.
And now back to the point about Moyes not being allowed to go through a transition. Most Man United fans are clever enough to accept that the period immediately succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson – the man who took the team from mediocrity to immensity, built a new club virtually with his bare hands and established reign of power that spanned across three decades – might prove to be slightly less fruitful. The fact that the entire entire back room staff is replaced as well will only further prolong the process.
Even Fergie himself experienced a transition in the mid 00’s. After three seasons without a trophy between 2004 and 2007, Ronaldo and Rooney suddenly released their ability upon the world. The reward for having patience with Ferguson back then was four league titles and a Champions League win.
Manchester United are in the middle of a transitional period. The board knows it, David Moyes knows it and the fans know it. As with every transition, it will be unpredictable, and things might seem worse at times than they actually are.
No Ron, Manchester United have no choice but to endure the transition. We will just all have to be patient.