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Manchester United: Where has all the magic gone?

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“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” Sir Alex Ferguson? Abraham Lincoln? Barack Obama? Nope! These words were uttered by the fictional character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire.

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

Why does this quote come to mind? Perhaps it reminds one of a time when things were a lot simpler. When football was like magic. When victories were guaranteed and trophies followed. If things weren’t going your way you could close your eyes and dream of a magical comeback and sure enough Manchester United would overcome the odds and turn your dreams to reality. This is what made Old Trafford the theatre of dreams.

Now, the dream is a nightmare (hopefully temporary) and the magic is gone. The left wing was once occupied by a Welsh Wizard but now a diminutive Chilean fraud occupies that space. A quiet ginger prince once commanded the centre of the park, his role now taken by a want-away pretender to the throne. All over the pitch, Manchester United players are either sub standard, injury prone, distrusted or confused over their roles.

This incredibly ridiculous situation is being overseen by the Premier League’s greatest villain. Some would equate him to Voldemort himself. Maybe that’s the reason he could never be seen as the hero. If Alex Ferguson was Dumbledore then Jose Mourinho is clearly Voldemort. Now the most iconic club in all of England is being dumped down the drain by Jose. Ed Woodward is as much to blame for this shambles as Jose Mourinho, but fault also lies with the big name players such as Pogba and Sanchez who have not lived up to their blockbuster billing. Blame should also go to previous managers Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes for failing to do any better than the current villain, leaving United in the situation where they couldn’t avoid aligning themselves with the evil one. Blame goes to the Glazers,who do not care about performance but only focus on profits, even though debt levels are still high.

Manchester United lacks unity right now. When one looks at Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane’s tenure at Real Madrid, the key message was unity. Players, managers and executives all moving towards the same goal. Constant improvement is Liverpool’s priority. Man City’s key players from top to bottom are all motivated by the need to create history while Real Madrid from Florentino Perez to Castilla desire nothing less than domination. Their three Champions League titles in a row are proof of such intentions.

Everyone at Man United has their own agenda. Some players care for money, some players care about their ego, some truly want to play for the badge. The manager is concerned about his legacy while Woodward is concerned with revenue and has a bizarre obsession with social media metrics. United is a house in disarray with agents of chaos at every turn. Returning this once-magical fortress back to its past glories will require upheaval. This may be slow and it will be definitely continue to be painful, but one thing is for sure, the process can only truly begin with a change in direction. Either players like Sanchez and Pogba are cast aside or Mourinho is jettisoned for a manager with a better idea of how to steer the ship. Most of all, new direction is required at the top, or at least greater distance between the executives and management in the form of a director of football. Regardless, something seismic needs to occur for the magic to return.

Manchester United hired David Moyes because he was easily available. Louis Van Gaal did wonders with the Netherlands but again his was the easy, risk averse choice. Jose Mourinho was meant to bring easy success based on his track record. Ryan Giggs was overlooked because his appointment was the far riskier choice. The greatest times for both Real Madrid and Barcelona have come with risky appointments. Whether it be Giggs or someone else, Manchester United should not look for quick, easy, short term success. This reminds one of another Albus Dumbledore quote: “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

The club’s executives may need to use their imaginations, dream like fans and take a risk. Maybe the hard decision is sacking Jose and replacing him with a manager who isn’t a proven winner yet. Someone who is willing to be ruthless in pursuit of his vision but kind enough to bring players on board for the journey.

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

Perhaps only then with a risky, difficult and even crazy appointment, with a crazy philosophy such as playing to entertain, will the magic return to Old Trafford.

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