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Is this the worst it has been since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and can it get better?

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 as Manchester United manager the loyal Manchester United supporters have fallen upon hard times. When supporters look back at the glorious era under Sir Alex Ferguson those times can only bring a smile to the face of any supporter. The last-minute goals, the vibrant football and the iconic players like Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo who graced the Old Trafford turf made it a magical time to be a Manchester United supporter.

Since the great Scots retirement to say the Red Devils haven’t scaled these heights is probably one of life’s biggest understatement. From the debacle of David Moyes to the lunacy of Louis van Gaal it really has been a shambles. David Moyes’ reign was over before it began. There were many low points in the David Moyes reign. This included a terrible 2-0 defeat away to FC Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League which was one of the worst performances in United’s history away from home in Europe.

Aligned with this were harrowing 3-0 home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City. It really was tough to watch for United supporters. Manchester United looked lost under his stewardship and unfortunately, the job of replacing his fellow Scottish counterpart proved too big a task for him. Likewise with Van Gaal. The Dutchman had a big presence and a big ego to match, but the football under his management was turgid.

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Even though Manchester United kept possession better than they ever did under his management, the team would often struggle to score. In his first season, Van Gaal did a respectable job. He got Manchester United back in to the UEFA Champions League with a top four finish and there were signs of progression towards the back-end of his first season with a famous 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield it being a highlight. It all started to unravel for Van Gaal in his second season.

A disastrous UEFA Champions League campaign culminated in an awful night in Wolfsburg in which the Reds lost 3-2 and Van Gaal made a bizarre substitution, bringing off Juan Mata for Nick Powell. Also Manchester United did not win for eight games in all competitions from the end of November to the end of December. A truly terrible run which included defeats to Bournemouth, Stoke City and Norwich City.

Even though in the second half of that season results picked up and the team went on to win the FA Cup, missing out on the top four meant Van Gaal’s time was up at Old Trafford. When Jose Mourinho came in many Manchester United supporters were excited. After all, Mourinho was a serial winner. Wherever he has gone he has won so why would it be any different at Old Trafford? In his first season, he did win trophies. He won the UEFA Europa League, which was impressive and the EFL Cup.

This was a good start for the Portuguese manager. In his second season, the team ended up empty-handed even though they finished a respectable second in the Premier League and lost in the FA Cup final to Chelsea. It has all started to go downhill rapidly this season. Rumours of dressing room fallings out and Mourinho unhappy at Manchester United’s signings in the transfer window, it is starting to look ominous for Manchester United supporters once more.

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With Moyes and Van Gaal, Manchester United had some tough times, but those tough times seem to be rearing their ugly head again with Mourinho. The present state of Manchester United, it could be argued is the worst it has been. Leaking goals like a tap-in defence and an absolute country mile off the leaders in the Premier League, it really has been a humbling season for all involved with the club. Some would say that this season is the worst it has been at Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson has departed.

The results have not been good of course, but the performances of the team are the most alarming. Failing to beat teams such as Brighton and Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Southampton are signs that all is not well at the club. There is no doubt the players are underperforming. They are nowhere near the level of Manchester City but United should be able to beat the lower teams in the league with the right attitude. The players are to blame as much as Mourinho.

At times it looks as if some of the players are not playing for Mourinho. Once the players stop playing for the manager then it is very hard to turn things around. With all that is going on behind the scenes with player unrest, the lack of team cohesion and the continued murmurings of issues between Ed Woodward and Mourinho, it really has become a circus at United.

There is no consistency at Old Trafford anymore on or off the field. On the field, the team can produce a fantastic win against Juventus one game, but in the next game struggle to beat a team in the lower half of the league. Likewise, against Arsenal on Wednesday, the performance level from the team was better but it wouldn’t surprise United supporters if the team dropped points against Fulham on the weekend.  With all these issues it is very hard to see how Mourinho can turn this around.

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He has made some poor tactical decisions but also he wasn’t backed by the board last summer and there are certainly some players not backing him either. For two decades under Sir Alex Ferguson, United were the benchmark. The great man ruled the roost. Whatever he said was the gospel. He was always backed in the transfer market and if the players didn’t back him on the field then Sir Alex Ferguson would have no hesitation in getting rid of them.

High profile players like Paul Ince, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roy Keane all left the club when Sir Alex Ferguson wanted them to go. Mourinho doesn’t seem to have this support. The board seems to be fighting against him and it is creating a hostile environment not only off the field but on the field as there may still be players at the club who Mourinho would rather get rid of.

All of this unrest has created the shambles at United at the moment. The love of watching Manchester United has drained away from the supporters. It is becoming more of a chore watching the team now. The team will continue to fail unless things change. For Manchester United to become successful once more everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Written by Ross Struel Clarke

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