Red Thoughts: Do Manchester United really need £600m to compete?

by Red Debate

In a recent press conference, José Mourinho stated that he doesn’t think he will buy any players in January and said that United would need in the region of £600 million to build a squad to compete with City, adding that the club simply does not have that kind of money. In this discussion, the Red Thoughts team exchange their views on the manager’s comments.

REX: Do we need major investment? Yes we do. But most of our downfall this season has been of our own doing. Otherwise we’d still be in competition with a team like City. Games like Huddersfield, Bristol, Leicester, Burnley, Southampton and even to an extent the loss vs. Chelsea could have all been avoided if players didn’t decide to go on holiday instead of defending set pieces. So for me, it’s a 65-35 issue. 65% players (team) and 35% investment. I doubt Perisic could have done anything to help the goals we conceded in these games if he’d been acquired.

Also doesn’t Mourinho himself prefer a small squad? That’s why we’re not doing well when players get injured. There’s no replacements. I’m just hoping this isn’t one of his 2 year episodes, where he guarantees leaving in the next by breaking all possible bridges.

RICK: The problem is not the size of the squad, but the quality of players we have in that squad. Apart from our first team, we don’t really have strength in depth and that is our problem. In theory, we should have strength in depth, but the performances are not up to scratch. Mhki is the perfect example of expectations and talent setting a much higher bar than actual performances when on the pitch.

BETS: Whether or not we are as rich as City is not the point. I look at the players we have and most of them are capable of playing so much better than they are right now. Maybe Lingard, Young, Jones and de Gea are playing well but I expect more from Pogba, Lukaku, Rashford, Herrera and others, and especially Mkhitaryan. So it’s all very well saying we can’t compete with City but as Rex says, we have a far bigger budget than the Huddersfields of this world and yet we are failing to beat them. I’m concerned that Mou’s moaning about money, refs etc. at his press conferences is letting the players off the hook when they are underperforming.

RICK: It doesn’t take shitloads of money to win the league, it takes everyone putting in 100% every game. Not 30 or 40% in half of the games then maybe 80% in the rest.

CARL: You don’t have to be the richest, we have more than enough wealth to compete with any club. Correct recruitment is the key and unfortunately, most of the signings we’ve made since Sir Alex retired have underwhelmed and not been consistent enough.

JIM: José’s right that we will need a complete overhaul to challenge City, but a lot of his points sound incredibly defeatist. Yes, the glory days are over, but there’s no reason why we can’t at least compete and pick up a few league titles and cup wins here and there. I think we’re also seeing now the real effects of the Glazer ownership – we don’t have as much money to spend because of them sucking money out of the club and putting us in enormous debt.

I’m sick of Mourinho’s persistent negativity. I’m still backing him, but his dour attitude is creating dark clouds over the club, which is creating a toxic atmosphere, not only amongst the fans, but also possibly amongst the players as well.

DAN: His comment of we need to spend £600 million to compete makes me laugh. I don’t think we do. Yes, we are still a few players short, but you can’t put what we have seen over the past few weeks down to that. It’s been poor. We have players at the club not pulling their weight.

For me, the manager coming out and saying we aren’t good enough, we need to spend £600 million to compete isn’t going to do the players any good. When the football is awful on the pitch, it spreads to the fans and frustration boils over. All around me, all you can hear lately are groans and moans. We have been a spoilt bunch, but it seems to take us two years to pull off a transfer. A lad behind me summed it up perfectly, it’s like we are trying to rebuild a Ferrari using cheap bits for important parts then put it on a race track and picked the most cautious driver in the world to get us round the track and secure a decent prize pot.

We don’t have enough winners and leaders in the team, we have a bit of spirit, a bit of skill, but not enough heart. The team only seems to panic in last 10 to try and make something happen and by then, with the way we are playing, its not enough. You see the energy some sides with less talent put into the game compared to us and it’s a disgrace. I don’t expect us to win every game, but I expect us to have a bloody good go at doing so. As Sir Alex always said to the players before a game, go out, entertain them, entertain me, you give them what you can do and they will back you. It’s up to Mourinho to prove why he’s one of the best in the world.

COREY: To be honest, Mourinho needs to can it. It seems like he is blaming everyone but himself. The players are out of form, The club isn’t spending, etc etc. What exactly is he doing to fix the issue? Unless I am mistaken, the role of the manager is to get the best out of the players he has. In that regard, Mourinho is failing miserably.

All this talk of Griezmann, Ozil, Bale, and whoever else is pointless, because Mourinho is just going to ask them to defend.The person most guilty of United’s recent form is Mourinho. All the warning signs are there, and I fear that Mourinho is going to lose the locker room.

RICK: I’d have to disagree that José isn’t getting the players to perform. Our squad is by far inferior to the other top six teams, yet we managed two major trophies last season and we are comfortably 3rd now. We would have been comfortably 2nd had the players finished the chances afforded to them. Our best CM in Pogba has been unavailable for half the PL games we’ve played so far, yet we managed to get results without him. The fans are so quick to start attacking José this season. We are in a much better situation than under both Moyes and LVG put together.

BETS: For me, what made Sir Alex the great manager he was, was that (a) he could help to make good players into great players (b) he gave youth a chance and could win the league with teams that cost much less than his competitors as a result (c) he could motivate his teams and put fire in their bellies – his hunger and passion rubbed off on the players and (d) he let players express themselves and entertain him and the crowd, as Dan said. I agree the game’s moved on since his day, and José may be right that ultimately, you just can’t do it any more without that bigger chequebook. But these four qualities that Sir Alex had are not really José’s best strengths, and right now, they are what’s needed the most.

Take the money we spent on Lindelof. I might be wrong, but I think Sir Alex would have brought Tuanzebe through sooner and we might have found that we didn’t need to buy from outside. I think Andreas Pereira would have had more chances and possibly be in the side by now. And I think Martial, Rashford and Lingard might have benefitted from Sir Alex’s approach too. So yes, we could do with a bigger chequebook, but I definitely think we are underachieving with the one we’ve got, and I do think José needs to accept some of the responsibility for that.

DEAN: Mourinho is simply putting pressure on the United board to back him. United need to invest and invest BIG. It’s not rocket science, but are the board backing him? Will they allow Mourinho to invest more in the squad or not? But the players’ attitudes are the biggest concern. There seems to be a strain on the togetherness in the squad, with no passion or desire from the players. But this has been an ongoing problem since before Mourinho even stepped foot into Old Trafford. It’s pretty clear that the issue lies with the players. Yes, Mourinho has to take some of the blame, and may need to make some changes, but Mourinho is only used to a system that has worked for him for many years.

EHSAAN: As for needing more money, Mourinho’s right to a certain extent, but really, we’re one of the richest clubs in the world. That can’t be our excuse. He needs to take some of the blame himself as well. And so should the players. And work hard to improve their performances.

HEMOR: Our squad is not bad, but most of them are inconsistent and that will probably affect other guys too. For example, there are games where Lukaku doesn’t get any reasonable chances created for him, there are games where De Gea has to cover the defensive errors … that’s his job, I’m not disputing that, but some errors are just shocking. I honestly agree with what José said about us making signings to maintain the squad instead of improve it, but I think £600m is also a ridiculous amount. The manager has to build HIS team and José said that there are previous signings he wouldn’t have made. I think the board need to give him the freedom to do an overhaul, sell whoever he wants and sign whoever he wishes to replace the sold players.

I’m very confident in Mourinho as a manager and I’m sure if gets the team he wants, the team that would execute his instructions in detail (even if it’s a negative tactic), and I’m sure the team will be almost unstoppable.

COREY: Just look at the squad Sir Alex had in his final season. Winning with players like Anderson, Cleverley, Buttner, Kagawa, Chicharito, Welbeck.

Just imagine what Fergie would be able to do with our current crop of players. Imagine what Fergie would be able to do with a Rashford instead of a Welbeck, or a Pogba instead of a Cleverley.

Fair enough, since then, Man City and Chelseas have strengthened. But so have we. Mourinho is failing to get the best out of his players, plain and simple. Pogba didn’t suddenly become shit when he left Italy, nor did Mhikitaryan suddenly become shit when he left Germany. Herrera, who was player of the season last year, didn’t suddenly become shit. Or Lukaku likewise.

We have excellent players at our club that are just under performing at the moment. If it’s not the managers job to light a fire under their arses, then fire the guy whose job it is.

Look, I am not saying this all falls on Mourinho’s shoulders. I am just saying that Mourinho has blamed everyone but himself. He has criticized the players, and the refs, and even Woodward and the other backroom staff.

RICK: Yes, José should motivate his players, but these days, there seem to be a lot of players who are spoilt, especially in our current squad. They lack professionalism and it shouldn’t take the manager to tell them to put in a performance. They know how to play football. It’s not the manager – the players need to take responsibility.

BETS: But I just don’t get why he’s saying we won’t buy in January. It’s sounding as if Zlatan’s out indefinitely or even permanently, and Carrick the same … surely we need reinforcements in January?

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