Man Utd sleepwalking into a nightmare in life after Sir Alex Ferguson


NOBODY saw it coming when Sir Alex Ferguson racked up 1,500 games and called it a day.

He had just won his 13th Premier League title and while, as Wayne Rooney has this week pointed out he left an ageing squad behind him, Manchester United were still the team of the ages.

Sir Alex Ferguson lifts his final league title in 2013

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Sir Alex Ferguson lifts his final league title in 2013Credit: PA:Press Association

During Fergie time they did as he had promised when he started out and knocked Liverpool “off their ****ing perch” to overtake their record as top flight title winners.

There were two Champions League triumphs, multifarious domestic cup triumphs.

Old Trafford had become a Milky Way of stars like Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and many more.

Sure, normal service might be temporarily interrupted while David Moyes settled in as successor to the most successful manager in English club history.

But he was the Chosen One by Sir Bobby Charlton, who also brought down Ferguson from Aberdeen in 1987, and given the nod by the great man himself.

Yet United remain on the 20 titles.

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They won’t be adding to that figure this season.

Next year will mark a decade since Sir Alex retired and only crazy money would suggest they will mark that anniversary with a 21st league triumph either.

In fact as things stand, with Manchester City only getting better, likewise Liverpool and surely Chelsea, while Steve Gerrard maybe developing something special at Aston Villa, it is anybody’s guess when United will be crowned champions of England again.

As things stand they won’t even make next season’s Champions League.
If they beat Atletico Madrid to reach the last eight of the competition it will be a major surprise.

They are out of the FA Cup having lost at home to Championship side Middlesbrough, while the Carabao Cup went over four months ago with a 1-0 defeat to Moyes’ West Ham.

Southampton, having just won at Tottenham, will fancy their chances of doing the same this weekend at what has become the Theatre of Screams.

United are a mess off and on the park.

Manchester United have looked rudderless at times this season

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Manchester United have looked rudderless at times this seasonCredit: Reuters
Ralf Rangnick has struggled to vastly improve his side

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Ralf Rangnick has struggled to vastly improve his sideCredit: Getty

Questions continue to be asked about not only the leadership of skipper Harry Maguire but even his place in the team.

Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be trying to make the place his personal fiefdom since his return.

Bruno Fernandes, the crucial, inspirational figure before CR7 re-registered, is now splitting supporters with displays that can be exceptional but have become increasingly erratic.

A cloud lies over the club thanks to Mason Greenwood’s arrest.

When Marcus Rashford scores, these days, it is a shock and not a regular occurrence.

Ralf Rangnick was brought in as interim manager to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the German technician of football.

He started out with a 60-year-old tactical idea of playing 4-2-2-2.

Having dropped that his new brainwave is that if United score more goals and concede less than the opposition then they will win games.

Sir Alex Ferguson chats with Mauricio Pochettino in 2013

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Sir Alex Ferguson chats with Mauricio Pochettino in 2013Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Cristiano Ronaldo's return has not yet gone as he'd have hoped

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s return has not yet gone as he’d have hopedCredit: Getty

This is the man who, once his interim role ends as it surely will this summer, will begin a two-year contract as an adviser to the club.

Really?

And now as new head honcho Richard Arnold is coming to the conclusion that Rangnick doesn’t have the Vorst sprung Technik to make it on the touchline comes SunSport’s revelation that the players want Mauricio Pochettino as boss next season.

This column pointed out some time ago that Poch couldn’t wait to leave PSG for United and the club has known this for even longer but left him hanging.

The way things are going right now he might decide the job isn’t that much of a dream for him anymore.

For United have never been more dis-united and a major clear-out and re-build is urgently required.

So make that a possible five years, at least, before title 21 comes along, if even then.

And where have we seen scenarios like the one at Old Trafford unfold?

At the club knocked off its perch.

For when Sir Kenny Dalglish, then not-so-plain King Kenny, rocked football by quitting as Anfield manager in February 1991 nobody saw what was coming either.

Kenny Dalglish quit as Liverpool boss in 1991

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Kenny Dalglish quit as Liverpool boss in 1991Credit: Getty – Contributor
The Reds struggled as the 1990s went on

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The Reds struggled as the 1990s went onCredit: Empics

Liverpool were reigning champions, having won three titles under him, and while the club was shocked by his resignation it was in a far better place than United when Fergie headed for the directors’ box.

But still, as United are doing now, they sleep-walked into a nightmare.

Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Dalglish a second time and Brendan Rodgers came and went as managers.

By 2010 when FSG bought the club from inept fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett, it was on the point of going out of business.
In the end Jurgen Klopp added title number 19.

Yet it took thirty years of hurt.

Thirty years of mis-management, poor acquisitions, the Spice Boys, the infamous white suits of the 1996 FA Cup final loss to United and never-ending Kop anguish and pain to get there.

The wait never seemed to end.

United are almost a third of the way through that time span and should Poch take the job, he will be the sixth, including Rangnick, since Fergie checked his watch for the last time.

Unless someone wakes up, a similar nightmare may now be unfolding.

Dreams were certainly not made of this at Old Trafford.

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Man United players want Mauricio Pochettino

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Man United players want Mauricio PochettinoCredit: AFP





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