From Flrent Macheda’s stunning debut season that propelled Manchester United to “Chicarito’s” vital goals that delivered fatal blows to other team’s’ title aspirations, Manchester United always prided themselves on being the club that were every youngster’s dream.
The Dawn of a new Ibra for Manchester United
Exceptions like Paul Pogba, Wilfred Zaha and Danny Welbeck were there but on a whole this was a club that all the supporters looked up to and opponents envied. Well that was till Sir Alex Ferguson decided to call time on his managerial career. Things were never the same again.
David Moyes’ disastrous reign and Van Gaal’s tepid tenure
David Moyes was supposed to continue the legacy and build on the foundations laid by his predecessor Alex Ferguson but he was shown the door just eight months into his tenure. Louis Van Gaal was brought to steady the ship and more importantly make Manchester United feared again. The fact that his track record boasted of unearthing talents unknown to the outside world from his days at Barcelona worked heavily in his favour. One could say that his tenure was a success of some sort as the arrival of Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah coupled with the FA cup victory can be testimony to the fact. However, his sterile playing style and his raw candour went a big way against him. The fifth place finish proved to be the final nail in the coffin of what was inevitable since December.
Mourinho’s appointment: A return to Manchester United way?
You could be forgiven to be surprised at Manchester United’s decision to appoint Jose Mourinho a few weeks after they had won FA cup under Van Gaal’s stewardship looking from the outside. But those with the knowings of the inside happenings didn’t bat an eyelid. Jose Mourinho is a serial winner and so is Man Utd. The reservations that legend Sir Bobby Charlton had against him were overlooked by the board after they had run out of patience with the results firstly under David Moyes and then under Louis Van Gaal. The signing of Mourinho, one can argue, signals a departure from the philosophy once held by the club. The signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic only serves to strengthen the fact.
With the arrival of Henrikh Mkhitaryan only a matter of time, Manchester United fans hoping to see more of the academy graduates debut in 2016-17 seasons or even expecting the continuation of blooding the promising youngsters from last season would be disappointed to say the least. But the things these signings and Jose guarantee are trophies: Lots of trophies. Yes, Manchester United may lose some of their sheen as a club which bloods youngsters into the first team on a regular basis, but it will bring back one thing the club sorely lacked: Making Manchester United feared again.
In the Ferguson era, the smaller teams were steamrolled when they set foot at Old Trafford and the same can be safely assumed with Ibrahimovic leading the attack. He may or may not produce the goods against Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspurs but he is surely going to guarantee all three points against the likes of Swansea, Bournemouth, Watford and Crystal Palace.
The way forward: A new era or the next Chelsea?
Chelsea, for all that they have won in the last decade sorely lacked one thing that all the champions from different leagues had: A clear blueprint for the future. Ten managers in 12 years are an indictment of the club’s impatience with losing. And hence the risk to plan and place your bets on young, unproven gems. The United fans may have had strong reservations against Mourinho a few years back but they will happily accept him now. However, there is a section of supporters who are concerned by the turn of events in the last few months. Winning trophies are an absolute necessity for Manchester United but they cannot afford to do that at the expense of becoming the next Chelsea. And therein lies the dichotomy of taking this new path. It seems the only way as of now.
Because even extensive planning, a rich legacy and promising youngsters don’t guarantee success. Just ask Liverpool.