While a draw against a team that had gone 19 games unbeaten doesn’t seem to be the worst result in the world given the circumstances around Manchester United this season, it wasn’t long ago since fans demanded perfection from their club – and would receive it under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Arsenal have not beaten Man United at Old Trafford since 2006 in the Premier League, and while that record still remains intact, there were glaring chances for Unai Emery’s players to put the game out of sight and return back down to London with all three points. Such is United’s demise in recent years, a draw against the Gunners at home is now celebrated and seen as an act of defiance.

In the five years post-Ferguson, it’s clear to see that Manchester United have lost their way on the pitch. While revenues are at an all-time high and business is booming, the same cannot be said for performances and results on the actual football field. It appears as if the football has been put to one side while the commercial executives take charge of United’s profits and make them a priority.

Of course, every football club who envisage constant success needs a functioning commercial arm that can aid in bringing in the required players and pay the wages of the world-class stars, but that should not become the overall purpose of its existence. Man United have been led down a path that boasts about the riches they are making year-on-year, but have lost track of what is truly important: winning on the pitch.

 

The David Moyes experiment and Louis van Gaal’s struggle

David Moyes only managed to last 10 months in the job, but it was an appointment that should never have been made. The Scotsman struggled – as anyone would – to fill the shoes of Ferguson and only managed to bring in one player during the summer transfer window: Marouane Fellaini. Moyes was rightly relieved of his duties, but even in 2013, the tide was turning as Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, begun to focus on off-field partnerships over what was happening on it.

Manchester United's newly signed Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini (L) poses during a photocall with Manchester United's Scottish manager David Moyes at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on September 13, 2013. Fellaini became Moyes first United signing for a fee of 27.5 million GBP (32.7 million Euros).

The same can be said for Louis van Gaal. It was clear that there were disagreements between the Dutchman and the board over who should and shouldn’t be signed, which worsened relations and, in the end, performances. Over the Christmas period in 2015, van Gaal should have been sacked for his lowly performances and stagnant style of football, but it was said that Woodward didn’t want to rock the boat as LvG was his choice of manager.

Wind forward three years and Manchester United are in the exact same position. They might have won a few more trophies, but since the Portuguese manager’s second year in charge, the football has become worse and the mood around Old Trafford sour.

 

Business has taken priority at Old Trafford

It is said that Woodward wants to wait until it is mathematically impossible for the Red Devils to qualify for next year’s Champions League before sacking Mourinho, because the payoff is considerably lower. That’s good business, obviously, but it’s also admitting to wasting a season with someone you don’t want as manager just because of the money involved.

Not many can deny that commercial business has taken priority at Manchester United over what is being played for all to see week in, week out. The mood in the camp is as low as it has been for years given the rifts between certain players and the manager, while Mourinho himself has a strained relationship with Woodward over the players he is not being authorised to sign.

From top to bottom Manchester United are as disorganised as they come. It has been five years in the making, but the Red Devils are at their lowest ebb without any identity, philosophy or clear direction.

The startling aspect of all of this is the fact that they appear resistant to change. Perhaps that is Woodward not wanting to relinquish any power that he has at the club, but in the modern era, just having a coach and a team of scouts is simply not enough to compete at the highest level.

Man United only have to look across town at Manchester City to see how a football club should be run, but they are too obsessed with bettering their yearly revenues. After all, that’s all they have left in this era without Ferguson.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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