Devils lost in a tempest
> United’s strategy of chaos proves how far they have fallen as Man City show them the way forward
term growth and long-term gain.
If United have a strategy, it is certainly not one they have adopted from City.
Yes, United have spent big, but they have rarely spent wisely. Woodward was unfairly criticised for the shambolic transfer window in the summer of 2013, when Moyes’s dithering and indecision resulted in just Marouane Fellaini being signed, minutes before the deadline, for more than his escape clause had demanded just a month earlier.
Since Fellaini, however, Woodward has secured many big money signings at the managers’ request, but we are still waiting for one that could be described as good value.
That term certainly does not apply to Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Angel di Maria and the seemingly invisible Henrikh Mkhitarayan. Daley Blind, perhaps, at £13.8 million (RM69m), but Mourinho would probably argue against that in the wake of his performance at Chelsea.
Handing a declining Wayne Rooney a five-year contract in February 2014 was another odd decision – by Moyes as much as Woodward – but then so was retaining Louis van Gaal in his position last December, when the team was clearly going backwards – or sideways, as his possession-based game suggested.
Woodward backed Van Gaal, but when Mark Hughes began to hit a trough at City, the Welshman was dismissed and replaced by Mancini to avoid the club drifting through the doldrums and having its progress halted.
Drift was a good word to describe Van Gaal’s final months, when United finished fifth, but at least won the FA Cup less than 24 hours before the Dutchman was sacked.
The drifting has continued under Mourinho, however, and that should be a major cause of concern for United.
Perhaps he under-estimated the scale of the job he had taken on, but the weeks of pre-season preparation already appear to have been mis-spent.
United lack creativity and authority in midfield, despite lavishing £89 million (RM445m) on Paul Pogba, and they still do not possess a defender who is comfortable enough to bring the ball out of the back four.
Up-front, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s impressive start has now evaporated, with the Swede producing the kind of impotent performances which led to Wayne Rooney questioning his own future as a centreforward.
Mkhitarayan, Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian, Depay and others have been cast into some strange kind of holding pattern, rarely used, but always there on the fringes.
Quite simply, Mourinho inherited a mess, but appears to have done little more than throw the furniture around in a desperate attempt to make it look better.
It is the strategy of chaos and it has been United’s problem for too long.
But the most painful realisation that they have fallen behind City is that, when the two clubs meet at Old Trafford in the League Cup tomorrow morning, Pep Guardiola’s team will be experiencing their own “crisis” while sat on the top of the Premier League.
How United would love to be in the same position as their neighbours. – The Independent
Pedro (right) scores Chelsea’s first goal during Sunday’s English Premier League match against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. –