The Manchester United of old has always found a way back. When the old United were trailing, there was a certainty that they would come back, or you knew that the last 10-15 minutes of the game they would throw the kitchen sink. When Ashley Young came as a substitute for Falcao against Preston to inspire a comeback win in the FA Cup tie, Henry Winter of The Telegraph said on BBC5Live that Manchester United “went back to their old DNA and came back alive.” However, it is fair to say that this engrained football style was completely lost last season under David Moyes. This season although the system and philosophy of Louis van Gaal has placed United in the top four, he has been blamed for trying to experiment with it too much. These past two seasons that feeling of invincibility has long gone, replaced with an uneasiness and insecurity despite leading games, even at home. But what exactly is this United Way- the United DNA that everyone refers to and what would it take to restore it?
Gary Neville wrote in the Telegraph Sport saying that this new era of United should not be judged by former glories and dominancy of the premier league, and that the era of Sir Alex’s champagne football is over. Surely the fans have been spoilt by decades of dominance, attacking and entertaining football, stunning comebacks, and winning games week in and out with passion, tempo, and pace. That type of play certainly seemed to be the United Way, a tradition that has continued since the Busby era. Rene Meulensteen pointed that Ryan Giggs was the last one linking the club’s DNA and holding on to it. Sure, United have attracted world-class players despite not making it into the Champions League but restoring the United Way has been stormy to put it simply.
This United Way will have to be built from within and must come from the Academy itself, similar to the foundation laid by the Class of ‘92 for an era of supremacy. The club can shell out big money on star players but the focus should be to support the foundation built within, not to build a team around these incoming players. Faith, trust, and care must be kept on the likes of James Wilson, Paddy McNair, and Tyler Blackett as they are the footing of this new United DNA. Bringing the youth players through, which United have done well, but making it count for the first team is what matters. The backbone of the new United will be its youth and academy, which will be key to restoring the United DNA.
This article was written and researched by Prajjwal Panday. You can follow him on Twitter.