Manchester United needs to stop trying to be what they once were

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

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Manchester United has been one of the top teams in European soccer for decades now. Their name has been synonymous with glory, victory and dominance. This reputation has dwindled ever since the retirement of former manager and soccer coaching legend Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson led the Red Devils for 25 years before retiring, winning the Union of European Football Associations Champions League twice and achieving the treble—which is the feat of winning the English Premier League—the Football Association Challenge Cup and the UEFA Champions League all in one season. Manchester United is the only English club to achieve this feat in history.

There have been truly glorious times for Manchester United in the past, but the problem with having such a star-studded past is trying to live up to it in the present. Manchester United is currently a struggling top team, trying to stay in the top six and being happy with placing fourth since that means placement into the UEFA Champions league.

Trying to strive for this perfection is what is leading Manchester United to subpar signings and over payment of players. The best case for this was when Manchester United signed Ángel Di María from Real Madrid for $74.4 million. This signing seemed like a Band-Aid on a major gash – it was a short term signing to bolster the confidence of both the team and the fans, but it didn’t last very long.

Di María gave the illusion that the glory days were back at Manchester United after having a rough year with David Moyes at the helm of the Red Devils. Fans booed and begged for the release of Moyes after having Manchester United end in sixth place, which was unacceptable since the year before, when Ferguson was at the wheel, they had ended first, winning the league.

To be fair, Di María bolstered the team in the first few months. He scored two goals and two assists in his first four matches of the club, netting him Manchester United’s Player of the Month award for September 2014. He went on to perform match after match, until an eventual hamstring injury on Nov. 29, 2014. Ever since then, it was downhill.

He became a substitute player of sorts, maybe causing a chance or two in the second half. Eventually, he went from being the most praised player to a disappointment by the end of the season. He signed for Paris Saint-Germain, a French team in Ligue 1, by the end of the season. It was a huge flop and the beginning of major signings being short-term stars when what the team needed, and still needs, is a solid team chemistry and foundation to build upon.

The positivity to come from this is the current direction the team is going now. Ole Gunner Solskjaer, a former player of Manchester United who played under Ferguson and played a crucial part for the team during their treble season, is currently leading the Red Devils. One could say that this being my point of positivity would be a contradiction. He’s from the times of old, the glory days. Isn’t that what we are trying to avoid getting stuck in?

The thing is, he is not exactly trying to turn this team into the Manchester United of 2008 in one year. He’s taking his time with things, going year by year, transfer window by transfer window, to build up that very foundation. Right now, I believe there is an illusion of downfall for Manchester United, since every other team around them is doing so well. Manchester City just won the league last season, Liverpool won their sixth UEFA Champions League and Chelsea won the Europa League.

Over time though, the foundation will be solidified and then they can start to build on that. Once it is set, I think Manchester United will once again be battling for the Premier League title regularly, mowing through the FA Cup, and showing Europe why we were so dominant for all those years.