It’s a theme much older than sport. And there’s little more troubling than watching your formerly great protagonist stumble around in an effort to regain whatever it was that made them amazing in the first place.
Sadly, it’s clear that this is the case at Manchester United. The club that once had the fire and determination of Harry Potter now looks like the victim of a Dementor’s Kiss – lifeless and glassy-eyed, unable to recall much of anything that once made it a force to be reckoned with.
And while it’s safe to say that such a period was inevitable following Sir Alex’s departure, it’s clear that the issue lies within the group of playing staff – most of whom are unable or unwilling to work together to achieve the desired result.
It’s the only explanation as to why, three managers on from the greatest of all time, there seems like no progress is being made at all – despite hundreds of millions of pounds spent and a myriad of different systems deployed.
For decades, opponents knew what they were going to get when they faced United. The club and the players were professional to a fault and would attack you with fearlessness and ferocity.
Nowadays it’s disjointed and bumbling, not to mention somewhat schizophrenic – with performances like the one at Liverpool followed by the one we saw at Chelsea. And would Sir Bobby or Eric Cantona be all chummy with the opposition at the end of a 4-0 thrashing, swapping shirts and hugs? Would they, fuck.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the Mourinho appointment, it’s more apparent than ever that managers are not the biggest issue at the club. I initially thought his statement that he’d find it easier to start with twenty new players was over the top – now I’m starting to see what he meant.
Mourinho teams are usually resolute defensively above all else. This group has shipped 12 goals in 9 league matches, with one of the world’s best in goal. And considering De Gea’s quality, we’ve still only managed four clean sheets out of fourteen in all competitions. We play midfielders as full-backs most of the time and have never replaced either Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic adequately.
The midfield is like a revolving door – both in terms of personnel used and in terms of effectiveness. Remember the days of Keane, Scholes, and Butt? Now we have a bunch of ‘triers’ who neither track back or threaten to pick a defence with a pass or score on a late run. The current group look like a bunch of matadors shepherding the bulls towards our goal.
In attack – an area we would almost never be found wanting – we are still looking for some sort of formula. Zlatan started well but is currently looking every second of his 35 years. We are slowing down the attack in order to accommodate him, and he is repaying by missing chance after chance. In fact, he leads the Premier League in shots  but has as many goals as Joe Allen, Leroy Fer, Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue.
If you’re going to play the big man, you are going to have to feed him.
So, here we are almost at the quarter mark of the season, and be honest – do you think we are looking a top four side? Hell, we don’t even look like the side that won the FA Cup in what was surely a false dawn.
This group lacks leadership, guts and any sense for what pulling on that red shirt means. On current showing, I would be tempted to replace more than half of them. They have flattered to deceive for too long now, and this club and these supporters deserve better.
So shape up or ship out.