Manchester United stopped being a football club when Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, according to the club’s former-translator Debora Gomes.
An ex-Man United employee, Gomes has slammed the Reds for their current philosophy in the transfer market. She claims that Angel Di Maria was signed back in 2015 for financial reasons, because United’s senior figures thought he’d sell a lot of shirts.
Di Maria joined United from Real Madrid for a then-British record transfer fee in a £59.7m deal.
Gomes worked closely with di Maria, who failed in the number 7 shirt for United despite his high reputation.
“I noticed a lot,” Gomes said, speaking to Esporte Interativo. “So much so that I had the opportunity to talk to him. And he was unhappy at the club.
“Firstly, he couldn’t communicate with anyone. And second because he realised the club bought him not because the club thought ‘oh, he will bring titles to us because he is a good player.’ No. Because they simply wanted to sell his shirts.
“This I heard inside the club, the people talking. ‘Di Maria sells T-shirts, so let’s buy him’. So he was not happy.
“Then I realised, after Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, the club lost interest in football. It’s money, money, money. It’s making money and that’s it.
“So the players, when they try and decide who to buy, they will meticulously say: ‘what will bring more money?’ They are not thinking of bringing joy to the fans. They are thinking of selling.”
It’s damning from Gomes, though obviously her word alone cannot be taken as 100% truthful.
There is no doubt that United have lost much of what made the club unique in its history. However, the real changes began occurring in the late 1990s and early 2000s, most notably at a few points, signing a huge commercial deal with Vodafone and the Glazers’ controversial takeover in 2005.
Did it all change with Ferguson left? Perhaps a lot did. Certainly a lot of key figures left, including David Gill, who did far less commercially than his successor Ed Woodward, an absolute machine when it comes to signing sponsorship deals.
Woodward generates the club a huge amount of money off-the-pitch and there’s little doubt that the focus on off-pitch matters has led to less focus on the football side of things. Is it as bad as Gomes suggests? We can’t say, but hopefully not.