Sunday 4 December 2016

Manchester United could easily suffer Liverpool-style title drought

Ger Gilroy

Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30

The cameras keep picking out Alex Ferguson whenever there's a moment of crisis at Old Trafford (Photo: PA Wire)
The cameras keep picking out Alex Ferguson whenever there's a moment of crisis at Old Trafford (Photo: PA Wire)

The cameras keep picking out Alex Ferguson whenever there's a moment of crisis at Old Trafford. He's in shot a fair bit these days. He haunts the incumbent in the manager's seat and will until there's success again.

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But maybe fans should remember that what happened under Ferguson wasn't the norm, it was truly exceptional, a peak unlikely to be equalled again.

Ferguson took over Manchester United in November 1986, and it was the 1992-93 season before he finally won the league. The rest is a crazy history that has unleashed ridiculous levels of expectation

Imagine the abuse he and his players would have got on social media today for finishing 11th, 2nd, 11th and 13th (!) in his first four seasons.

Perhaps the 'fans' leaving early, screaming at Louis van Gaal and demanding to be entertained are ultimately just consumers who will head off to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars when they move to London, or maybe they are real supporters who have just forgotten that success takes time, serious talent in the dug-out and oodles of luck.

Flakiness

It's 26 years since Liverpool won the league. United bridged a similar gap in 1993. Sure it was part luck, part bravado but Ferguson had time and resources and power. No-one is getting time ever again like that at United. No United manager will ever finish 13th and keep their gig.

The Liverpool drought will stretch into another season at least but in Jurgen Klopp they have found a rallying point.

Resources won't be an issue for the next United boss, but who knows what state the club is really in? The fans who keep saying such and such isn't a United player are living in some alternative reality where 19-year-old superstars are rolling off the production line, where Ferdinand and Vidic are impregnable and Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo are rampant.

Oh happy alternative reality where it never rains in Manchester. The truth is Darmian, Memphis, Fellaini and Herrera are all United players. Reality is a cold wet place with no dreamweavers there.

Liverpool's decline was hastened by picking the wrong managers in Graeme Souness and Roy Evans.

So far United have panicked on Moyes after not backing him in the transfer market and squandered a fortune on players of dubious value under Van Gaal.

There's no indication that the officials picking the managers know how to do that part of the job well. Three and out or third time lucky? Twenty-six years go by in the blink of an eye.

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