By Owais Iqbal
Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece and views expressed in this article are not necessarily reflective of The Beehive or The Beehive’s associated writers.
It is nearly five years to the day Sir Alex Ferguson managed his last match in charge of Manchester United, a 5-5 draw against West Brom (with a certain Romelu Lukaku scoring a hat-trick), and ended the most illustrious managerial career to date.
The post-Ferguson United has not done as well as it should have — that is well-known and cannot be denied. The team’s demise, however, has been exaggerated to such an extent by the sports media that it would seem to anyone out of touch with the football world that Manchester United have become a mid-table team no longer able to challenge for silverware.
It is quite remarkable that Manchester United have not received any praise for their progression since the Moyes and van Gaal days. Not one football fan can honestly say that Manchester City do not deserve to win the Premier League. The way City have played football this season should be the new benchmark for the rest of the league’s big teams. But why change something which is not broken, Mourinho will argue. United have actually won only one less trophy than City in the last five years (United have won the EPL, FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League. City have won the EPL twice and the League Cup thrice). So tell me what’s successful? It’s more than what Liverpool and Tottenham combined have achieved in a long time!
It has been made out as though United have not achieved anything in the last five years, when (comparably) they haven’t. In no way am I proud that my beloved football team was in the Europa League in the first place. Louis van Gaal failed to qualify for the Champions League in his last season and rightly got sacked — although I have always disliked the timing and nature of his sacking given that he had just won the FA Cup (United should have had the decency to at least wait a short while before sacking him).
Rather, I am merely suggesting that the “fall from grace” was bound to happen after Sir Alex left but United’s success under Mourinho has been largely downplayed (again, because of everyone being distracted by the brilliance of City this season). Expectations have lowered significantly (because of failure under Moyes and van Gaal) since Sir Alex Ferguson retired but that should not be an excuse to be used against United’s relative success in a much more competitive league. I, no doubt like every other United fan, have high expectations for next season. Nothing but either the Premier League or the Champions League will do. I expect this summer transfer window to be Mourinho’s “getting rid of any dead wood still left” moment. Only time will tell if United will finally find the consistency needed to return to the summit of English football, which they occupied for many years under the management of possibly the greatest football manager to have ever lived.