Now, finally, the hesitation and falsity of the mediocrities that run what used to be a football club called Manchester United has to end.
After one management mistake after another, the accountants who rule at Old Trafford have no choice but to accept that their last roll of the dice did not work out.
If they had a shred of self-awareness, men like Executive Vice President Ed Woodward and Managing Director Richard Arnold would fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer today and then follow him straight out the door.
Solskjaer has to go. It no longer matters who scored United’s winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final. Never mind that some of his former teammates are squeamish that he should be fired. It doesn’t matter that he’s an absolutely nice man.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s work hangs in the balance after 4-1 damning loss at Watford
Richard Arnold (left) and Ed Woodward (right) must take responsibility for their failures
The Glazer family (pictured: Joel Glazer, Avram Glazer) is at the root of Man United’s troubles
He took United so far and it became obvious earlier this season that he couldn’t take them any further. He is seventh in the Premier League, 12 points behind the leaders. There is no turning back from Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Watford. It’s finished. But please don’t pretend that Solskjaer is the root of the problem at Old Trafford. It’s not even close to being that.
The root of the problem is the Glazer family, who own the club, and men like Woodward and Arnold, whom they employ to carry out their orders.
They drain United’s money like leeches. They care more about profit than performance. They have turned United from a team that boasted of being the greatest club in the world into a laughingstock.
There is no point trying to be diplomatic here. The men who run United are incompetent. It was obvious to everyone earlier this season that things were going the other way around after the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo turned out to be a great own goal and yet they did nothing.
They sat on their hands. They played the violin. Antonio Conte, a proven title winner, was available, but the feeling was that the weak men in charge of United were intimidated by his strength of character. How pathetic is that?
Now Conte has been hired by Tottenham Hotspur. Its president, Daniel Levy, has made many mistakes, but at least he was decisive in his search for the best coach on the market.
Where will United go after Solskjaer is gone? Obviously no one is available anymore, although Zinedine Zidane, who has won trophies as a coach at Real Madrid but nowhere else, seems to be emerging as the favorite to take over.
Woodward is currently in the midst of a long goodbye that he should never have received. If you were judged on the number of new noodle partners you’ve signed on, you might have a case to defend. But it is about football.
United hesitated with Solskjaer and allowed Tottenham to come out to name Antonio Conte
Zinedine Zidane is one of the few names in the box that is actually available
It was announced that he would be leaving seven months ago after he dragged United into the disaster that was the plan for a European Super League. He should have left immediately, but he is clinging to the remnants of an ego trip. All you’ve probably accomplished is to add the firing of another technician to your resume.
It is surprising that a club like United recently reported that they were willing to let Solskjaer hobble at the end of the season and name a successor at that point. Seriously?
The best-supported club in England, a club that used to reign supreme, happy to cancel a season just a quarter of the way instead of making a tough decision by ditching a nice guy?
That kind of thinking underscored how far United have fallen. They have allowed a situation to develop in which United are already a dozen points behind Chelsea. Another season without one of the great trophies United used to chase is effectively sealed.
Amazed by the reputation, Woodward and the Glazers squandered the supremacy that Sir Alex Ferguson had bequeathed to them by making mistakes in judgment, appointing Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho as managers when both were on the lookout for their careers.
United has become a prisoner of history and needs to realize that it has been hit by mediocrity.
They allowed Solskjaer to rebuild the club and they deserve some credit for that. But then, at the critical moment, they wrote again.
Image is everything to them. They saw that Ronaldo was available this summer, their eyes turned to dollar signs, and their brains turned to mush of page impressions, Twitter followers, and Instagram likes.
Ronaldo was a great player once, but his signing cut the ground under Solskjaer’s feet.
United needed a world-class defensive midfielder to cement a title run this season. What they got was a 36-year-old superstar who still scores goals but whose immobility leaves the rest of the team exposed.
It was never going to work. Now, as many predicted, it appears that Ronaldo’s arrival was the signing that sealed Solskjaer’s fate.
Sad to see Solskjaer so low. He’s gotten to the point where he looks like a boxer being held back only to get hit again. But part of United’s problem is remaining a prisoner of its history.
Signing Cristiano Ronaldo (right) did not make sense in the field, it was a commercial company
The 36-year-old is not the player he was when he left United for Real Madrid in 2009
Everyone wanted Solskjaer to succeed because of what he had done for the club. Everyone wanted Ronaldo to succeed for the same reason. Nobody wants to admit that signing him was a mistake.
Everyone wants him to be the player he was when he left the club for Real Madrid in 2009. More pertinently, everyone wants United to be the club he was when Ronaldo left in 2009. It’s still a privilege to watch him play and keep on scoring because you’re looking at one of the biggest. But you are idolizing him for his past now, not for his present or his future.
Ronaldo would not be in the starting eleven of most of the best teams in England. It could be different at City, who were rumored to be interested in him, because it would have been the finishing touch for a team that is already wonderfully balanced and not asking for reinforcements elsewhere.
The City did not have a natural center forward either. Ronaldo would have been a short-term solution.
He would not be in Liverpool’s first team and he would not be in Chelsea’s first team. He wouldn’t even be in the Spurs first team, especially now that Conte is in charge. The best teams do not carry passengers, not even passengers who score goals, because it destroys the effectiveness of the full-back.
Solskjaer (center) will go, but United are paralyzed as long as the Glazer family is in charge
United accommodates Ronaldo for business reasons. And they accommodate him because signing him came across as a huge coup and took the heat out of Woodward and the Glazers, at least for a short time.
Now the heating is back and it is not only Solskjaer who should pay the price.
“The worst thing Ole can be is a great bridge for United to get back to their values,” Gary Neville said Saturday. It’s about whether you can take them to the other side of the ravine and get them to a point where they succeed again. And that, for the moment, is highly doubtful.
Solskjaer approached the other side of that ravine, but on Vicarage Road, he fell into the abyss.
His departure is inevitable, but as long as the Glazers own the club and mediocrities still dominate the hierarchy at Old Trafford and roam its halls, the barriers to Manchester United’s revival will remain.