Wednesday 13 January 2016

United need change at boardroom level to revive fortunes

United's problems start at the top: there's a lack of football people at the club and change is needed at boardroom level.

It is no secret that Ed Woodward, the club vice executive, lacks football nous and expertise.
Since the Glazers took over in 2005 that has become the norm at Old Trafford and has become even more pronounced since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and David Gill left his position as chief executive in 2013.

Despite the crippling debt, the club remained successful and continued to rake in the silverware for years.
Gill received plenty of criticism for his "debt is the road to ruin" quote prior to the takeover which saw his attitude drastically change- in the public eye at least.

Fast-forward to 2013 when new manager David Moyes and new CEO Woodward were thrown into the deep end without inflatable arm-bands.
It was evident that both were small fish in a massive pond.

United had just won the league by 11 points under Ferguson yet the squad was in urgent need of strengthening.
The only signing was Marouane Fellaini from Everton for £27 million, £4 million more than the £23.5 million buyout clause United had missed earlier in the summer.

Moyes was nickname Dithering Dave at Goodison and his hesitation was clear for all to see, as instead of working with Gill, he planned his transfer activity under the inexperienced Woodward.

Now there are calls for a Director of Football at the club to steer United in right direction off the pitch as there's currently no plan, direction or structure.
It's certainly a red flag for any potential high-profile successor to Louis van Gaal or a big-name player looking to move clubs to see a green hand at the wheel.

Woodward appears supremely confidence in his abilities despite questionable evidence to the contrary but whilst he is part of the immediate problem, he is not the biggest call for concern.

The real brokers are the Glazers: renowned as savvy businessmen who find the football operations aspect alien.
Emphasis is placed commercially, even if their so-called product is stagnating on the pitch- much to the dismay of fans who pay their hard-earned money to watch United whether at Old Trafford or in Wolfsburg.

Ticket prices have been frozen for next season at a maximum of £50 but do the owners really think that they can continue premium prices for a less-than-premium squad, one which even the most disillusioned rose-tinted Red will admit is not only sleep-inducing but miles from winning either the League or Champions League.

One has to wonder whether the squad's lack of depth indicates a cost-cutting austerity plan from the American owners similar to the mandated salary-cap policy of their once glorious but now mediocre NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They can certainly point to Arsenal's success under the penny-pinching Arsene Wenger.

Yet if trimming the overhead is what the Glazers have in mind, it is a confusing contrast to Woodward's break-the-bank philosophy.

Worse, the once-productive United academy which, if it hasn't produced many first-team regulars for the senior side since Fergie's Fledglings has - and profitably so - for the rest of English football.
Ryan Shawcross is the most obvious example.

Yet that pipeline appears to have dried up with the club's failure to replace Director of Youth Brian McClair, once considered the second most important player at the club behind Ferguson, more than a year after his departure.

Priorities have definitely changed at the club, and not for the better.

United have become a complacent, lackadaiscal football institution- change is needed in M16, and not just from the dugout.

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