We’ve been here before.
No, seriously, we have been here before. Look.
90min’s Who Is to Blame? series is back, baby. And in the fourth instalment we visit the notoriously-terrible-at-football Manchester United – for a record second time.
Why? Because they are that bad. And because the hottest questions in the footballing world right now sit along the lines of Who Is to Blame for Manchester United being 12th in the Premier League? Who Is to Blame for Manchester United losing to Newcastle? And Who Is to Blame for Manchester United being poor enough to give Sam Allardyce licence to say they’re fighting Premier League relegation on national radio?
The people need answers. And it’s the duty of this series to provide them when people start pointing fingers, or if they start asking the question of who they should point their fingers at.
A once great Man Utd club, now a laughing stock. Who is to blame?
— Chris (@chrisleeboy80) May 5, 2019
MAN UNITED suffer yet another loss on the road this time away to Newcastle
That is now 2 wins in their last 13 Premier League games
— Views (@atviews2019) October 7, 2019
With United 15 points from leaders Liverpool and a match with Jurgen Klopp’s team to come after the international break, we’re going to need to dig deep – one year on from the first time we did it – to get to the bottom of this bloody terrible mess.
So here we go. Strap in and gear up as we bring to you…
Manchester United: Who Is to Blame? II.
20) Tottenham Hotspur
Blame Rating: 1/10
It’s Tottenham first up – scoring a remarkable 1/10 Blame Rating.
Serious consideration was given to Spurs’ score being the first ever minus number in the storied and valued Who Is to Blame? series – with the reason being that their own terrible drop off has meant Manchester United aren’t quite in it alone.
But they are. And we don’t do minus numbers.
Spurs are two points ahead of United in the table at this point, even after getting bantered off by a young Irish lad scoring twice against them on his first Premier League start for Brighton at the weekend. And while a crisis at Tottenham is big news, it’s nothing in comparison to crisis at Old Trafford.
19) Rebekah Vardy
Blame Rating 2/10
Rebekah Vardy leaked stories about Coleen Rooney to The Sun!
Coleen found out because she laid a very 2019 Instagram trap!
Coleen Rooney is married to Wayne Rooney!
Wayne Rooney used to play for Manchester United!
Wayne Rooney was a bit crap in his final few years at Manchester United!
There is a direct link between Wayne Rooney’s drop off in form and where Manchester United started to be a bit crap!
It’s ……….Rebekah Vardy’s fault!
18) Sir Alex Ferguson
Blame Rating: 2.1/10
Sir Alex Ferguson – the greatest manager of all time – was a low level entry in the original Manchester United: Who Is to Blame?, scoring a 2/10 because he set the bar too high for his successors to reach. But now, everything’s changed. He’s gone up to a 2.1.
It’s partly down to Richard Keys putting out a brand new blog post on Monday, October 7. He’s thoughtfully titled the piece ‘It’s an unexpected sack race’ and mate…compelling argument, I tell ya.
“I’m often asked who I blame for recent events at Old Trafford. Let me answer like this – power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I blame Fergie. I always have. It wasn’t a popular view when I first floated it and it won’t be now – but it’s true.
“It’s his fault. And David Gill’s – who never pulled him on anything. Yes – the best and most successful British manager of all time – but he left a club crumbling and stuck in a different era.”
That’s sorted then?
Sarcasm aside, the man lives in a world of his own. It’s worth digging up his blog on the regular to remind yourself of the detachment.
Ferguson left six years ago you absolute weapon
— Ash (@ashogooner) October 7, 2019
17) The American Brand of Flavoured Tortilla Chips, Doritos
Blame Rating: 2.5/10
For making their crisp packets too slippery and ruining the confidence of Alexis Sanchez, who somehow manages to be the most expensive flop in Manchester United’s history despite not actually commanding a transfer fee.
It was all downhill from that moment he dropped those Doritos. It’ll haunt him – and this club – forever.
16) The Concept of Premier League Relegation
Blame Rating: 3/10
Since March 10, 2019, United have taken 17 points from 17 Premier League games. They’ve scored 16 goals in that time. That is very, very bad.
It’s not quite relegation form, but it’d put them in the mix if that wedge of games had started from the opening round of a season. And it’s enough for Big Sam to get his campaign going to take over United – which gives him an excuse crack open bottles of gravy with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the manager’s office at Old Trafford shortly after underwhelming defeats.
United’s form is poor. And it needs to change. Because they’re tracking finishes of between 14th and 16th in Premier League seasons past based on their current points totals.
Blame Rating: 4/10
You know that song that goes “fifty million down the drain, Tony Martial scores again!” ?
Well, this is literally £50m down the drain.
14) Mauricio Pochettino
Blame Rating: 4/10
Agreed a new contract that he is bound to for another four years at Tottenham, despite being safe in the knowledge that he had taken this team as far as he could at the time of signing it.
Now Pochettino is attached to Daniel Levy for all of eternity, even while the appealing prospect of plunging Manchester United to League One may become available for the second time in the space of a year soon enough.
Getting out of that contract will be tough, Pochy.
13) Manchester City
Blame Rating: 5/10
For losing twice in eight games and not being good enough to stop Liverpool becoming Premier League champions for the 2019/20 season, City get a five. It is already done, and we will not be told otherwise.
United’s form, combined with Liverpool’s stubborn winningness, means that City have been their local rivals’ only hope of this not actually happening for the past two years. Not any more.
12) The Narrative
Blame Rating: 5.5/10
Which team can fail to take a shot on goal for around 30 minutes at home against an Arsenal team which allowed 54 shots against them in their two previous away games at Watford and Eintracht Frankfurt?
Only Manchester United.
Which team can lose to Newcastle just one week after they were piped 5-0 by Leicester City?
Only Manchester United.
Which team can turn in to the Liverpool of the 90s as Liverpool turn in to the Manchester United of the 90s, despite years of warning signs from just about 30 miles away about how not to run your football club?
Only Manchester United.
11) Manchester United’s Puzzling Desire to Sign Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff
Blame Rating: 6/10
Which team can spend a summer briefing British media of their interest in signing Sean Longstaff, only to fail in their attempts to sign Sean Longstaff, but then proceed to lose to a team containing Sean Longstaff and his younger brother Matty Longstaff, who actually scored the winning goal?
Only Manchester United.
10) The Longstaff Brothers
Blame Rating: 6.5/10
You might’ve seen Mako and Billy Vunipola running wild on a rugby field or the Klitschkos dominating boxing, but as a United fan you’ll definitely remember Gary and Phil Neville winning every trophy under the sun in the nineties and noughties. This pair, though, are changing the game.
Sean. Matthew. The Longstaff Brothers. Killing off Manchester United since October, 2019.
Ominously even Liverpool have their own Longstaff. Seriously.
9) Paul Pogba
Blame Rating: 6.5/10
It is a rule in this country that Paul Pogba always has to be blamed for something. So here it is, he’s at number nine.
8) That One Bloody Night in Paris
Blame Rating: 7/10
This is where the entire thing started. A team of (largely) Manchester United teenagers finished a Champions League last 16 tie at the Parc des Princes last season, with the first team ravaged by injuries and a suspension to Paul Pogba. They won, and it was sensational.
It was perhaps the greatest night United have enjoyed since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013, but it was also the night that convinced the decision makers that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserved the job on a permanent basis.
In the end, that’s the way they went, and it’s been downhill ever since.
It also made Rio Ferdinand do this.
7) The Glass-Half-Full Manchester United Fan
Blame Rating: 7.25/10
Look, right, I’m running the risk of irritating a few people here, but…it’s over for Ole, guys. It’s already bleak and it’s not getting any better than this, so let’s stop pretending it will.
Continue the support of the team, that’s needed. Keep supporting Ole, he’s a club legend. But let’s stay safe in the knowledge that he should never have been handed the job permanently and the sooner a change is made, the better.
6) Jurgen Klopp
Blame Rating: 7.5/10
Stop making Liverpool good, mate. Nobody needs it.
Blame Rating: 8/10
1999 was the greatest year in Manchester United’s history.
It was also 20 years ago.
Despite the fact that it was 20 years ago, Manchester United have made a very strong effort to remind supporters of exactly what was achieved back then. Ole’s talked about it in press conferences and interviews, they’ve made documentaries about it on MUTV. They’ve even put the times of the goals against Bayern Munich on the sleeves of the home kit, for goodness sake.
United’s PR campaign to remind fans of the good old times has blown up in their face for three reasons. One, because they’re lightyears away from where they used to be in terms of performance and results, two, because it reminds us of how terrible the present time is in comparison, and three, because Liverpool are the champions of the competition they’ve spent all their time talking about winning 20 years ago.
Roll on 2020. Death to 2029, when it all begins again.
4) The Complete Lack of a Footballing Identity
Blame Rating: 8.2/10
Shots on goal, playing with tempo, movement, urgency. Having a clue, desire to attack, desire in general…a list of some of the things Manchester United either don’t have or are incapable of doing.
I’d even take looking to pass the ball forward at this point.
3) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Blame Rating: 8.4/10
Anyone can see – it’s as plain as day – that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to take Manchester United back to the top of the game. He’s made some good decisions in three tidy signings, and shipped out a fair bit of the deadwood to start United on their road to a total cleanse.
But performances and results are just not where they need to be. The results they’re picking up at the moment would be easier to digest if supporters could see a plan had been implemented and a playing style was developing, but neither are even remotely recognisable as it stands.
And the fact of the matter that Solskjaer has had more than enough time to steer his team in the right direction, or at least get them on the right track. But that’s not happened, and it’s not as though Ole has a history to look back on which suggests he could actually get it right.
United haven’t scored more than one goal in any game since the opening day of the season. They’ve played the likes of Rochdale, Astana, AZ Alkmaar, Southampton and Newcastle in that time. It’s just not good enough and it’s probably time to realise that the old boys club plan isn’t working out.
2) The Glazer Family
Blame Rating: 9/10
They’ve overseen the ugliest of declines at one of the biggest clubs in the world, purely to line their own pockets. They continue to see United draw in record revenues as a business, but have plunged the club into millions of pounds of debt.
Success, and failure, starts at the top. It’s no coincidence Manchester United are in this mess given they’re owned by people who don’t have the club’s best interests at heart.
1) Ed Woodward
Blame Rating: 9.9/10
“Playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we can do on the commercial side of the business,” said Ed Woodward in May 2018.
If there was ever a line to sum up the current state of Manchester United, it’s that one. Woodward is a banker making footballing decisions, and while United continue to succeed when it comes to making money, a succession of his terrible choices has sent the club into the state they find themselves on the pitch.
He awarded Jose Mourinho with a new contract in the same year he sacked him, and appointed an under-qualified club legend to initially stop the rot – promising at the time that no long-term decision would be made until the end of last season. He buckled. He teased the appointment of a sporting director – something United desperately need – and failed. We could go on.
Manchester United’s attachment to failure can be directly traced back to the point Woodward took control. It’s time he puts his ego aside and sticks to doing what he can actually do, instead of trying to do what he’s proven himself incapable of.