AS I watched this oh-so-ordinary Manchester United team losing, yet again, at home to Sunderland on Saturday I couldn’t help but think that the Old Trafford fans, so stunned and bewildered by their team’s fall from grace, will probably have to suffer for some time before they see a return to former glories. I remain convinced that ex-manager David Moyes inherited a dysfunctional, fading group and that winning the title with this lot last season was arguably Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest achievement.
More to the point, I reckon that whoever comes in as manager – and it looks likely to be Louis Van Gaal – he is unlikely to have United contesting the title by this time next season. The overhaul required looks too big for there to be a quick fix. United have got too many similar players, too many players whose best position is not identified and not enough stars. The era of Cantona, Van Nistelrooy, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham etc is gone. Now, only Rooney and Van Persie are big, big players – and Van Persie needs to get his act together, for he seems to me to have lost his focus with the retirement of Sir Alex.
He certainly wasn’t on the pitch often enough during Moyes’s ill-fated time at the club. Given the millions of pounds United have invested in their medical staff and facilities, I was surprised that Van Persie deemed it necessary to go to his native Holland for treatment recently. If Van Gaal is the new manager, perhaps he will have as good a chance as anyone of getting his compatriot back on track. Certainly, United need Van Persie and Rooney firing on all cylinders next season. And that would be only the start of the re-fit they require.