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A Change In Mindset Is Needed At Manchester United

A Change In Mindset Is Needed At Manchester United

By Raj Chopra.

Manchester United have always been linked with the game’s top players, and when they were winning league titles year after year, they got who they wanted more often than not.

But in recent times the club has failed to land high priority targets, leading to panic buys and some ridiculous salaries.

This is a huge frustration for the fans, who at the start of every transfer window expect the necessary personnel to be brought in. But I would have to question whether this is really what Manchester United need right now to improve the team and ultimately improve consistency.

No matter which player is brought into the club right now, there will not be a consistent improvement in results because there is a systemic issue at Manchester United.

This systemic issue is the fear of not living up to the recent triumphs achieved by Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams. The fear that now exists in the DNA of the club is having a major impact on the board, CEO, manager and ultimately the players.

The message surrounding Manchester United in the media is one of negativity and this feeds into the players’ mindset.

United have now had four managers since the departure of Ferguson. Each manager brought their own personality, style of play, insecurities, philosophies and enthusiasm for the game. None have so far come anywhere near the expectation.

Many will argue that the failure has been United’s transfer policy, which has brought players not fit to wear the shirt. United’s failing in the transfer market is well documented, and all four managers since Ferguson will complain they did not get their desired players, but even with the players that were brought in, there were below-par performances or players not reaching their potential.

Where is the free spirit that we once saw from legends at United such as Eric Cantona, George Best, and Ryan Giggs?

As much as we were led to think this is how the current team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer play, the fear factor has set back in. There was evidence of a freedom in the United team when Solskjaer initially took over from Jose Mourinho. There was this visible vacuum that allowed the team to play with freedom and style. But then it was only a matter of time before that fear factor once again set in due to all the negativity surrounding the club.

We have seen the effectiveness of team spirit in Leicester’s heroic premiership title win. There is no better example of a desire to defeat the odds and play collectively as a team. Leicester defied all the odds to win the Premier League and this would never have been possible had there been any negativity within the club.

So, when you have a group of highly paid superstars like those at Manchester United who are expected to achieve but fail to deliver, one will naturally question the desire, team spirit and tactics. Now, it is quite easy to point the finger at Solskjaer as team spirit and tactics are down to him as manager.

Due to this, many fans and pundits right now are calling for Solskjaer’s dismissal, claiming he is out of his depth, and a more astute tactical manager would get a better tune out of the current players, but then why did we see the same inept performances with Mourinho and Louis van Gall’s teams? These were previously proven, successful managers.

The whole mindset of the club needs to change. Fans need to change their expectancy level on transfer targets until the ownership is changed, and the manager needs to take the view that it’s a bonus if he gets one of the players he’s asked for.

The manager, along with a Director of Football, needs to coach the existing players on camaraderie and playing for each other in the team. A new initiative is required that sends a message to all the players that the club, including the board, are all pulling in the same direction.

Right now, Manchester United appear to everybody as a club disjointed with no unity from the board to the players. Every message in the media regarding Manchester United right now is negative and this feeds into the mindset of all the players. Without unity in the club, each and every player is playing with fear.

This is not the answer to all of United’s issues, but if the mindset does not change then each and every player brought into the club will only adopt the same fear once the honeymoon period is over. Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Angel di Maria, are all examples of this.

United must do everything as a club to send a message of unity so that the camaraderie in the dressing room can flourish. Ferguson was known for creating a siege type mentality to get the best out of his team collectively. Manchester United as a club now need to do this to build again.


  • comment-avatar
    Mustafa 4 years ago

    Kiti cha untd kwa ole nikikubwa hakimulei

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    OGS is loved at ManU and if he leaves or is sacked, that will not change. Your analogy of OGS with Van Gall and Mourinho is flawed, they were very successful managers in Elite leagues prior to coming to ManU, OGS wasn’t. He was a fill in, who benefited from the Mourinho gloom lifting. On that basis and due to his extraordinary appeal to the fan base, (brand sales), he was appointed Manager. The rumours that the Glasers are content with a manager who guides the team to a top six finish and who does not rock the boat, could explain the malaise that infects everyone at ManU. 
    A banker who is a combined COO and failing amateur Director of Football is quite an indicator that money and not football is the main interest for the Glasers. 

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    Steve 4 years ago

    This is a very interesting and thought provoking. I agree on many things here. My tuppence on the failings.. MU have suffered similar issues as the England national side, in that the expectation since winning the World Cup has worked against them, whereby players simply crumble under the spotlight of criticism from media, fans and neutrals alike globally. The analogy that you have to be a special player to succeed at MU is absolutely right, and you mention McGuire, Di Maria etc who have failed, or are still failing, because of this I think. AWB and James both performed very well initially, together with McGuire, but even AWB is starting to crumble as he’s coming under intense scrutiny in the last few games. I feel sorry for these players, as I don’t think they are playing for a manager that can get the best out of them. I don’t know what the situation is with the board & ceo’s priorities on financial investment of Winning now, but £800m spent since Fergie left is a silly amount for the unbalanced and weak squad we have, although we should be performing much better albeit. So, I’m not surprised they have tightened the purse strings now and maybe they are waiting for a manager they can fully trust before dipping into their funds again…I just hope Ole can find a way to stop the rot, otherwise he should be replaced swiftly to allow Poch the chance who can get a team winning games, and as you say, a ‘siege mentality’ instilled, on a budget. Nice write up mate..Let me know when you post the Poch follow up.

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    Very well written piece here, I can’t help but agree that the club looks disjointed as a whole, the players lack confidence and are not improving. It’s almost as if you join the club and you stagnate, there is no going up just remaining the same or being less of yourself as a player. To your point, I don’t think fingers can be pointed solely on the players here, we have seen many managers will a team with average motivated players to victory but doesn’t seem to be the case despite different coaching methods. In Evra’s recent rant, he mentioned that in Alexis Sanchez first training session, he immediately felt as though this is not where he wanted to be. What is being done in training? What is the mentality in the dressing room, we used to have a killer instinct as a team which I couldn’t help but fall in love with that made me a club supporter. I just see such a lack of passion on the field and players who accept the mediocrity, no leader to tell the players to do better, we previously had players who held each other accountable and set an example like Rooney did, when he lost the ball he would track back. I see players like Martial jogging and acting bigger than the club until they choose to pass him the ball. If we don’t change our mentality as a team, there is no amount of talent that can be purchased to turn things around, the fire needs to be ignited in the hearts of the players for change to be initiated.