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Manchester United’s board needs to act now to save their season

by Scott Eckersley

If there’s any substance to the ‘cultural reboot’ Manchester United have supposedly made this calendar year, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have been sacked by the time you finish this sentence.

For too long the business of being, first and foremost, a sporting outfit seems to have been neglected by United’s owners.

Running a football club has often felt secondary to maximising profits, generating clicks and coasting along on the receding wave of goodwill that the club’s rich history has generated.

It feels like the Red Devils’ board regard the nuts and bolts of operating a cherished football institution as an inconvenience that gets in the way of their pursuit of riches.

The result of this lack of focus is that the once-mighty Manchester United are now a directionless basket case. There’s no other way to see the current state of limbo.

Watching the latest car crash unfold against Watford, it was tempting to see the on-pitch failings as a living, breathing document of a club trapped in a permanent death spiral.

While the morale-sapping defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City were appalling, somehow the manager and players managed to construct an even bigger catastrophe.

United came up against another struggling outfit but still managed to look second best in every regard. The defence, ‘led’ by the woefully out of form Harry Maguire, was shambolic.

The midfield was again overrun, lacked bite and showed little imagination. The attack again hinged on moments of quality rather than any sense of cohesion.

It’s little surprise if this sounds like deja vu.

You have to wonder if any watching United fans genuinely expected to see anything else. That time is gone. There’s no cause for optimism.

All that’s left is a morbid curiosity about how many levels of shame and embarrassment are yet to be plumbed. Can it get worse than this? If the board doesn’t act then it almost certainly can.

We’re in a permanent endgame now, the stage where saying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to be relieved of a job that’s beyond his capabilities isn’t even controversial anymore.

This season’s rapid regression made it clear that he reached the end of the line weeks ago. The players look lost. The fans have had the life sucked out of them. Enough is enough.

United’s hierarchy passed on the services of Antonio Conte, presumably because having a demanding winner at the helm would make them uncomfortable.

Well they should be uncomfortable. After all, it’s their shirking of responsibility – their failure to act on what is staring them in the face – is an major reason for the current shambles.

Running a world famous football institution like this has gone beyond carelessness and neglect. It is starting to look like an act of vandalism.

They need to start making the big decisions. Immediately. No more holding out for a miracle or ‘managing the narrative’ by crafting airy fairy social media messages about engaging with fans or correcting mistakes.

No more public apologies, aimless drift and subterfuge. Change it now.

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