Why Manchester United Need To Solve Their Off-The-Field Problems

After another disappointing defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their most recent Premier League game, Manchester United have, for the first time since Ole Gunnar Solskjær stepped in, come under a fair amount of pressure with Barcelona just around the corner.

While the Norwegian has only just been appointed as full-time manager moving forward, fans are already looking to the summer transfer window and wondering what is next. There is no time to be sitting back and waiting for the season to finish before thinking about the summer months, the Red Devils have to act now.

As seen in Solskjær’s first few months as manager, there have been some incredibly positive moments, but also a few lows. The 12 game unbeaten run in the Premier League was always going to eventually end, even if fans were love drunk, but a limp and unenergetic performance against Arsenal was not expected – especially just after their triumphant battle in Paris a few days before.

Manchester United's Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans following the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on February 12, 2019. - PSG won the match 2-0. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Norwegian has the tools at his disposal to turn things around for the better and make Man United compete for major honours again, but he can’t do it alone. He needs help from the people above him in terms of funding, but also to make sensible, footballing decisions; Manchester United have to remove the sentimentality they currently have when deciding on important matters.

For one reason or another, Manchester United, since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in the summer of 2013, has not been able to succeed in the transfer window. If it’s not poor recruitment that simply hasn’t worked – Ángel di María, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay and so on and so forth – it’s also the willingness to hand contracts out for merely ‘sticking around’.

Football is not won on emotion. It never has been and it never will be. Emotion is what comes with football from a fan’s perspective, but when the club starting making decisions based upon affection, there is no real surprise as to see why the Red Devils are stagnating.

Manchester United's Argentinian defender Marcos Rojo and Manchester United's Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez arrive for a training session at the Carrington Training complex in Manchester, north west England on February 11, 2019, on the eve the first leg of their UEFA Champions League football match against Paris Saint-Germain. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

But after handing out lavish contract extensions to Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the last 12 months, fans are rightly beginning to question why these decisions are being undertaken. It also adds further fuel as to why the club have not yet appointed an experienced Sporting Director who can take emotion away from the equation.

If Manchester United are going to improve on the pitch and truly be a global powerhouse once more, they have to first amend their off-the-field policies. Bringing in the likes of Alexis Sánchez, for example, must be a thing of the past. While the Red Devils still want to attract some of the best talent in the world, being held to ransom for extortionate wages is only going to cause detriment to the dressing room.

This is something United have seen in the past 14 months, ever since the Chilean arrived. Most recently, it has been Ander Herrera’s turn in asking for a huge increase on his contract, which is something the club are not yet prepared to do. The Spaniard has been a great servant over the years, but United are, at this moment in time, reluctant to fork out £200,000 per-week for him.

With over 50 scouts registered at the club, it’s time Manchester United started to unearth a few gems of their own. Instead of going for the obvious and enormously priced players, the club have to start acting smart in recruiting players that have the actual desire to take their game, as well as the team’s, to the next level.

Until Man United step away from the glitz and glamour of constantly spending eye-watering figures for players, the same cycle will be ever present. It’s simply time, under a new manager in Solskjær, to move away from that era and start thinking outside of the box – something simply has to change.

*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article

Liam Canning

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Sports Broadcaster & Journalist

Liam Canning is an NCTJ-qualified sports journalist that writes from the Premier League to Serie A to the Champions League and back.

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