The powers that be at Manchester United cannot see the forest for the trees.
Too many cooks are spoiling the broth.
They are so close to the problem that they do not recognize the answer by looking them in the face.
It’s time for the iconic Sir Alex Ferguson to become Manchester United’s director of football
There is no one better equipped to take on the role and help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer than Ferguson.
Go with the cliche you want. They all apply to the masters of this particular universe.
Not least: the elephant is in the room. Although this magnificent beast is not so much in the boardroom at Old Trafford as it is sitting next to the directors at most games.
It is named after Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson has been forced to watch helplessly during United’s losses to Liverpool and City
It is nothing short of absurd that the greatest soccer coach of all time is not being asked to impose his unrivaled wealth of knowledge and his galvanizing force of personality against the depression that now plagues the club he loves.
It is absolutely ridiculous that the task of reasserting United as one of the most powerful powers in the world game is entrusted to a gang of good old men and mid-level executives.
While it would be asking too much of Ferguson to return to the stress of full duties, no matter how fully he has recovered from that life-threatening brain hemorrhage, surely he is the man who must oversee a much-needed salvage operation.
Has there ever been someone better equipped to take on the role of Director of Soccer than Fergie? The primary duties of that position are to help the coach achieve trophy-laden success with the first team and to help identify and recruit the stars to make that possible.
The great of all time has tried not to show that he is twisted inside by the failures of the club
Middle management demands have also been given control by United (left, Ed Woodward)
Yet, according to most accounts, Sir Alex hardly participates, if ever, in such discussions, whereas that position itself is held by … uh … John Murtough.
John, who, ask the restless fans? Murtough is apparently well-liked by Old Trafford players, but he’s more of an establishment figure.
Once in charge of player development in the Premier League, whatever that means, he was promoted earlier this year from his job as deputy director of the Academy and recruiting with the United women’s team.
Below him comes former player Darren Fletcher as Technical Director, then someone called Mick Court as head of technical scout, Matt Judge as director of transfer negotiations and Justin Cochrane as head of first team player development.
United’s director of football is John Murtough (left), much loved but more of an establishment figure
Two other Old Trafford faithful, Mike Phelan and Michael Carrick, as well as Kieran McKenna are the first team coaches.
Worthy gentleman, no doubt. But while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs all the powerful help he can get, Sir Alex sits down to watch Liverpool’s humiliation and damage limitation surrender to Manchester City … while trying not to show how much he’s writhing inside.
Should the great man be called upon at this time of crisis, when even this Saturday’s visit to Watford seems fraught with anxiety? Frankly, it’s a no-brainer.
But don’t listen to me. Ask Bryan Robson, who praises Fergie on his splendid movie Robbo: The Bryan Robson Story which will go on sale at the Manchester Home Cinema next week and then on Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Blu-Ray. He responds: ‘The question is why not? The Gaffer has so much more to offer. “
Solskjaer needs all the powerful help he can get and has sought Ferguson’s advice before.
Would I go back? “I believe so now,” says Robson. He deliberately stayed away when Ole was appointed. He didn’t want to be a major presence in any new manager. But I see signs that he would give his opinion now if asked.
There are suggestions that Solskjaer has not sought Ferguson’s advice more than three or four times in his three years in office.
If you are somewhat intimidated by the presence of the master, you need to remember that Fergie embraced the legend of Sir Matt Busby and did not hesitate to choose the brains of his illustrious predecessor.
What he would never have done is call a meeting of senior professionals to advise him on where to go from here, as Solskjaer reportedly did this week.
Woodward’s impending departure may make it easier for Ferguson to gain influence
Sir Alex is now known to have played a role in persuading Cristiano Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford and he is known to have made a recent visit to the training ground as pressure on his latest successor intensifies.
The imminent departure of fan-hated CEO Ed Woodward could make it easier for Fergie to return to a position of influence.
Meanwhile, as Solskjaer faces potentially more challenging matches at Chelsea and against Arsenal after the Watford trip, Murtough works under this facet of his job description: ‘Superior to the various team managers and working day-to-day with Ole to align recruiting and other strategies to ensure that the first team has the first-class operational support it needs to be successful. ‘
That sounds like corporate language designed to reassure the Glazer family in their American way of doing business. As Robson puts it: “Gaffer’s way of winning was by working hard.”
Ferguson is the solution, not the problem, and he may be willing to go back on top of Solskjaer.
Anyway. How is that bombastic focus working right now, gentlemen?
It’s fun to imagine how Sir Alex would have reacted to any attempt at such oversight. And as fond of his former players among the current staff, he wouldn’t shy away from pruning them if he deemed it necessary.
Robson is as shocked as I am to see and hear Ferguson described by more than one critic as “that old man” casting a sinister Old Trafford shadow “that he should get rid of.”
Like Ronaldo, without whose goals their most dynamic captain reminds United that they would currently be “out of the Champions League and in the lower half of the Premier League,” Alexander the Great is not the problem. He is the solution.