Ever since the Premier League began, there has been one team who rose above the rest the most. That team was Manchester United, and under the leadership of their iconic manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, they were unstoppable.
Several years have passed since Ferguson left the club and United have struggled. Have they had their time in the sun, or will Manchester United one day be able to restore their glory years?
Glory, glory, Man United
Alex Ferguson arrived in Manchester in 1989 with one goal in mind, to knock Liverpool off their perch. Slowly but surely he managed to haul in the record number of league wins by Liverpool to make Manchester United the most successful team in English history. Ferguson played exciting soccer, making sure the players prioritized scoring goals above anything else, after all, goals win games.
He had built a strong side as the very first Premier League season kicked off in 1992 and Manchester United won four of the first five championships. They did it mostly with seasoned professionals, but there was a revolution coming, and the league wasn’t ready for it.
The Class of ‘92
Throughout his time in charge, Alex Ferguson was a big believer in giving young players the chance to shine. He would introduce seven players from their academy following the first Premier League season.
Players like Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, and Gary Neville were all products of the Manchester United academy and had learned how to play soccer how Ferguson wanted them to. Stepping up to the first team was meant to be difficult, but these young kids soon displaced the veterans.
With these players at the core of the roster, Manchester United continued their success for over a decade. In total, they have won 13 Premier League championships, but all good things must come to an end.
Saying goodbye to Fergie
Alex Ferguson was getting older, and after 25 years in charge, decided it was time to step down. His last season in charge of Manchester United ended in 2013, and since then, the club has gotten nowhere close to winning the league again. It was time to appoint a successor to Ferguson, and the great manager picked the perfect candidate.
He chose the then Everton manager David Moyes and publicly asked the Manchester United fans to get behind their new man. It was hard to say goodbye to Ferguson, but fans were confident their new manager would do them proud.
A slippery slope
Nobody expected Moyes to come in and win the league for Manchester United right away as it would take time for everyone to adjust. What was also not expected was for the club to be struggling so badly in their first season. Moyes was fired. They finished seventh that season and for the first time in years missed out on playing in Europe.
Time to rebuild
It became very clear that what Manchester United needed to do was rebuild, so they brought in a man who had done that job at several top clubs. Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal came in and gave Manchester United an identity again. He was willing to play young stars over old pros, and there was something about him that reminded fans of Alex Ferguson.
Even Van Gaal, who had won leagues in Spain and Germany wasn’t able to get his new players performing on the field. The finished fourth and fifth before Van Gaal was also given the boot. Everyone knew Ferguson had performed miracles, but only now were people realizing how good he was.
Speculate to accumulate
Throughout all of this time, Manchester United were spending big on buying new players, and finally, they bit the bullet to bring in an expensive manager. Success was what the board wanted, so they brought in Jose Mourinho, pretty much a guarantee to get United back to winning ways. He had won multiple league titles over the years with Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid.
He was the man for the job, and more expensive recruits were brought into the playing staff. Mourinho gave United a great chance at success, but despite European success, the fans were not happy.
To try and get the most out of his team Mourinho made his team play defensively, when all Manchester United fans wanted was their team to attack. After a particularly bad start to the 2018/19 season, Mourinho was sacked too.
Where it’s all going wrong
Since Manchester United lost Alex Ferguson, they have struggled with their identity. What their team used to stand for was success through young players while also buying the best stars in the league. Now they have bought superstars from around the world, paying them huge wages, but they don’t seem to have the desire to play hard.
It seems that if the team are ever to get back to their old dominant selves, they need to look into the past. Finding young and hungry players proud to wear the Manchester United shirt is what’s required, not mercenaries looking for paychecks.
The glory years of Manchester United have been better than anything seen in England in the Premier League era. Currently, it doesn’t look likely they will get back to their best, but perhaps a little look into what made them so great before could make them great again.