Everybody knew that the day Sir Alex stops handling the affairs at Manchester United, things will never be the same again. But nobody ever realized how much will be the magnitude of the change. Everybody thought at a mammoth club such as Manchester United with such a huge purse will buy the best players and the best manager and the road to the Premier League title will be rosy again. Past three years have only shown how wrong these football pundits were and what a colossal impact Sir Alex had, not only in the united dressing room but at world football.
It’s been three seasons since the great man retired, and we are already in the 10th game week of the fourth season, but that gaping hole left by Sir Alex seems an impossible task to fulfill now. Doesn’t mean the owners at united are not doing everything they could to bring this giant club back to where it was. This season alone they have signed the best manager in the modern era of the Premier League in Jose Mourinho, they have made the world record money signing in the name of Paul Pogba, and they have signed Zlatan Ibrahimović, the name is enough. Still, the giant sits 6 points behind Manchester City and already looks out of the title race, so what’s actually wrong at United?
The Theatre of Dreams has lost its fear factor. And this is one of the biggest reasons Manchester United is not challenging for the title any more. Football matches are not won on the pitch, they are won in minds, and this psychological advantage which United has always had is all but gone, and this has had a telling effect on their title chances over past couple of years. During the 27 year reign of Sir Alex, teams feared coming to Old Trafford, The Theatre of Dreams, and believe it or not, time did stop if united were ever on the losing side at the end of 90 minutes. There’s no other reason extra time is not called extra time in Old Trafford but Fergie time, because till the time United were not back in front, the game never stopped at Old Trafford, Manchester United always came out victorious no matter what. This fear factor, and this fighting spirit seems lost in history, and so are the title hopes of this new Manchester United.
The second reason Manchester United does not seem like the United of the old is the players. When Sir Alex left, so did the players who played under him and won everything with swagger and bullish attitude. The new talents the club has bought are very promising, no doubt about that, but they are young, and the load of expectations on their shoulders is immense, it’s so huge that they seem to lose the race for title half way down the campaign. This has not happened once or twice, but three times in a row. Now they have bought Jose Mourinho as a manager who is a proven winner, and he will do these players a world of good in a longer run, but this season, chances look slim.
The third and the most important reason United are not the devils they used to be is their playing style and that never say die spirit. It’s one thing to lose a game or a campaign, it’s another thing to play the way they are doing right now. Teams feared United, not because they are the greatest champions in the Premier League era, but because when teams came on the pitch against United, they actually played against the devil, no matter the pitch. And the united of today plays like any other team, they might score 3 goals in one game, but they lack the killer instinct of the old, the pressing of the old, and the bullish attitude of the old, and if that doesn’t come back soon in these players, if Jose Mourinho does not make his players believe that they actually are the next generation of devils, the football we were used to seeing in the era of Sir Alex, will sadly, only be seen in the tapes of the class of 92.