Those who have followed Manchester United over the past decade have experienced a team on a rollercoaster ride. From the top of the mountain to the crevices of the valley, United have found themselves experiencing both extreme success and the lowest of lows.
Pundits and analysts have toiled endlessly for the past few years to explain the Red Devils’ struggle to no end.
As a Manchester United fan, I always went into every game with an expectation of greatness, a sense of optimism and excitement. However, the past couple seasons, I have found myself sitting on my couch, often at an ungodly 7am (as many East Coast fans can attest), clouded by uncertainty and fearing the worst. This is not the feeling that a top side should inspire in its fans.
I would argue that the biggest problem United face this season, and in the next season to come, is changing the mood around the club. Unfortunately, I view United as the first major victim of the digital age in soccer.
Throughout European media and the world of social media, there is so much criticism and doubt surrounding the club; every touch of the ball, every new player signed. Undoubtedly, this is transferred into the minds of the players and staff, showing through via the performances on the pitch.
It was strikingly evident over this past week, as United recorded three consecutive losses between two competitions, losing to Manchester City, Feyenoord, and lastly, Watford. For all the expensive signings and hype around the Mourinho’s appointment, there seems to be very little difference between van Gaal’s United and that of the ‘Special One’.
So how do United turn their fortunes around? Is it possible to simply forget the past three years and return to the glory of the Ferguson era?
I would argue that this is impossible. The Ferguson era is long gone at Old Trafford, and to try and bring back that same feeling and emotion around the club is foolish.
The United revolution needs to start with the fans and culture around the club. The United community and media has to change attitude and rhetoric, and look at this group of players as a separate entity rather than holding them under the umbrella of expectation created by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Roy Keane, in the past.
This Manchester United squad needs time to develop together. There is a foundation of young talent that, with time to grow and learn, could form a dominant group in the years to come. To view the likes of Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as consistent match winners at this point in their career is to condemn the team to failure from the start. These players should be viewed as teachers and guides to the players of the future: Marcu Rashford, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.
In this day and age, we are constantly reminded to live in the present moment. However, I would urge United supporters and critics alike, to look to the future. Manchester is currently blue, there is no doubt in that, but, with the right mix of support and patience, Manchester will soon bleed red again.