The importance of clearing out the deadwood this summer

Manchester United and deadwood seem to be three words which have stuck together for some time now. For six years, United has seemingly retained players in an approach which seems to protect the initial investment in the particular player, rather than rewarding constant top drawer performances from the said player.

In this era of football, player power is rife and at United, some players have now seen the back of three managers and are now into their fourth manager at the club. The achievements of Sir Alex Ferguson were never going to be replicated but the fact the club has fallen as far as it has was not solely down to any individual manager. There are a few factors here.

There are so many players at the club who would not get into another top six Premier League club, let alone a big club in Europe. The board of directors seems to be happy with the money coming into the club and happy to avoid looking at the problems on the pitch and lastly, the ownership and their stooge, Ed Woodward.

Woodward replaced David Gill and became the executive vice-chairman of the club and has been responsible for the hiring and firing of managers, getting the players the manager wanted during transfer windows and renewing contracts of players. The Glazers seem to be happy with the money the club has been making, cashing in greatly.

The fact remains that the deadwood of the club needs to be cleared out. This is not because I am disgruntled after the 4-0 defeat to Everton on Easter Sunday. I am disgruntled because this shocking style of running a massive club has been ruining the said club for six years now. The Glazers owning the club started these problems 14 years or so ago.

United, if they are to move in the right direction, needs to find a path to progress on. They need to stick by the manager they have employed, even if the players are complaining about them. The very fact remains that if players are moaning, it is not because they are being treated badly, most of the time it will be because they do not like what they are hearing.

Granted, there are many players at the club who are seen as the stars of the team but recently, they are not starring or performing to a level that would see them playing for big teams in world football. Paul Pogba has been jogging around the pitch during matches, showing no signs of that leadership role he had for France during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Anthony Martial signed a new contract at the end of January which will keep him at the club until at least 2024. Since then, he’s not put in any kind of performance that would see him being wanted by any elite clubs in Europe. As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said, the players cannot hide on the pitch but they did a good job of that against Everton.

I’m not saying that Pogba and Martial are part of the deadwood at the club but they are certainly part of the problem. This summer, it seems certain that Antonio Valencia will leave the club, Ander Herrera has reportedly signed a pre-contract agreement with Paris Saint-Germain and the likes of Juan Mata, Matteo Darmian are both out of contract, although Darmian has the option of another year at the club.

Woodward re-signed both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to long-term contracts, seeing Smalling at the club until at least 2022 and Jones until at least 2023. Both, however, have the option of a further year at the club. Both players have never really become the players they were touted to be. Both are injury prone and seem nervous in the team at times. Both are considered deadwood and are part of the problem, needing to be moved on.

However, who would want to sign any of the two players? Their wages will be higher than any other clubs would be willing to pay, meaning they will happily sit at United seeing their contracts expire. The ironic thing is that they are costing the club much more than the fees paid for them when they signed in the summers of 2010 and 2011. They are also costing United success.

Ashley Young has been given a new one-year deal and to be honest, after this season, nobody with any common sense would want to see him start for United for another season. This season, he has lost possession of the ball 726 times this season, an average of nearly 22 times per 90 minutes. However, that stat was before he came on against Everton on Sunday.

If United are to start finding the road to glory once again, ensuring the likes of Valencia, Darmian, Smalling, Jones, and Young leave the club would be a step in the right direction, however, there are more problems with the squad. Pogba seems to flirt with other teams, also getting his family to do it for him. It does not look like he wants to stay at United. Then you have Alexis Sanchez, who has rarely performed in the season and a half he’s been at the club.

Romelu Lukaku seems to want to move on in the summer, and after his recent performances, it would not be a bad thing. Herrera has seemingly not got what he wanted to remain at United with rumours suggesting that he wanted £200,000 a week to stay at the club. There are also suggestions that David De Gea and Pogba want more money to cope with the club not playing UEFA Champions League football next season, which seems likely.

If the club reward failure, there will be no coming back from the abyss that they are heading for. The club needs to start making the players toe the line. They all need to be held accountable for the absolutely abysmal performances they have been putting in. The supporters of the club are literally being robbed to see performances like that week in and week out.

Clearing the deadwood will not solve the problems for Manchester United, but it would put them into good stead to solving the decline of the club over the past six years. Some players do not deserve to play for a club like United and those in the hierarchy of the club do not deserve to be in their roles either, as the stagnation has happened on their watch.

United need to commit to moving the club in the direction of others. Bringing in a sporting director, a technical director or even a director of football. This will ensure Woodward is left to his own devices of bringing in commercial revenue for the club. Imagine if United are winning matches like they used to and are challenging for league titles, domestic cups and in Europe once again. The commercial revenue from success would be better.

Right now though, Manchester United seems to be a commercial operation that plays football on the side. It should be a football club with a commercial aspect on the side. When you start running a football club as a business, you start to see a massive decline in the club, which has been the case. One day it will be too late to overcome the damage and thw writing is on the wall bigger than ever right now.

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copyright: JW

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