In the ruins of another humbling defeat against a fierce rival, Gary Neville made a subtle point about there being reasons for optimism in a fresh start at Manchester United over the coming months.
Taking to Twitter on Monday morning to vent about how United finished up with just eight per cent possession against City in the final 15 minutes, Neville wrote: ‘New dawn for United with Richard Arnold as CEO and a new manager incoming but yesterday was a fitting memorial to the ‘Ed Woodward/Glazer’ last 10 years of mismanagement.’
The changes at the upper echelons of the United setup have long been called for by Neville and the Red Devils fanbase. As it stands, though, United have their work cut out to finish in next season’s Champions League after Sunday’s defeat left them a point behind an Arsenal side who have three games in hand on them.
But what are the ’10 years of mismanagement’ that Neville refers to, and how quickly will the new look United hierarchy be able to erase the errors of the old? Sportsmail takes a closer look…
Gary Neville said United’s defeat by City was a cause of ’10 years of mismanagement’
DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL DELAYS
A key part of United’s future is not just in the arrival of Richard Arnold and a new manager that Neville referenced. The appointment of John Murtough as director of football is also a key cog in the United setup and one that has long been mooted as an essential step in modernising the club.
More prestigious names than Murtough were linked with the vacancy – Edwin van der Sar, the former United keeper who is now Ajax’s chief executive, was frequently linked. Lille’s Luis Campos, Dan Ashworth and Paul Mitchell were other names to be mooted.
It’s likely the new dawn that Neville refers to will see Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag partner up with the Murtough, Arnold and Rangnick axis to restructure United with a model that has worked fluidly at a number of other clubs that they are now bidding to overtake.
That said, Neville has spoke dismissively of Murtough’s appointment and questioned how much influence he will have over the coming years.
‘In terms of the appointment of John Murtough as football director, I don’t see that being a critical appointment in the sense of United winning the league or not winning the league in the next few years,’ he said.
‘I don’t think he has the veto to sack the manager or appoint a manager or sign a player or get rid of a player. I think that will still come down to the same people as before.
‘Obviously, there is a comfort internally now in regards to the current people who are there, they’re working well.’
John Murtough (left) was appointed United’s director of football back in 2021
In February, Richard Arnold (right) took on day-to-day running of the club from Ed Woodward
MILLIONS BLOWN ON TRANSFERS
Something Murtough, and the rest of the United fold, will be held to account on is how much bang for their buck United get in the coming transfer windows. Under Ed Woodward, so much was made of the revenue the club were raking in off the pitch that United almost seemed to pay a premium in any dealing.
This summer, everyone will know United want to back their new manager and that they simply urgently need quality additions. Rangnick could be key here, with contacts in the Bundesliga and beyond.
But in the past 10 years, United have splashed out on big names that more often than not, have flopped. Even Cristiano Ronaldo, with 15 goals in 30 games for United so far this season, hasn’t been the overriding success people expected and hoped.
Even further back though and fans will remember the likes of Angel di Maria, a £60m arrival from Real Madrid, or Falcao, on a £16m season loan from Monaco.
Angel Di Maria was a £60million flop at United, signed from Real Madrid back in 2014
That same season, United spent £16m just to bring in striker Falcao on loan
Paul Pogba, for his undoubted quality, has not produced enough form to justify the £89m United spent on him and Harry Maguire produces more errors than most other £80m defenders. The jury is also still out on £50m right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Whether or not those players are good enough to return United to their past glories, Neville was adamant on Sunday that a squad of this calibre shouldn’t surrender the way it did to Manchester City.
‘I think they’ve been papering over the cracks and plastering over the wounds for the last two or three months,’ Neville said. ‘They are a billion pound squad, they do have a £350million budget and when you play against teams like Brighton and Southampton you don’t have to be at your best to get a result.
‘A lot of the teams that they’ve played in the last few months have been better than them as well.
‘They went out of the FA Cup against Middlesbrough, Atletico Madrid should have beaten them and the only two teams that they’ve played in the top eight – Wolves and Manchester City – have done them, properly.
‘I think that the dressing room at the moment, I wouldn’t call it broken, but it won’t be far off it because that last 25 minutes tells you. The evidence is what it’s like when the going gets tough and that was at the end for them, but they went missing. They didn’t want to be out there.’
Harry Maguire was an £80m signing from Leicester and is under growing scrutiny
LACK OF INVESTMENT AT CARRINGTON
The Glazers have finally taken note of the ire from the United fans regarding the status of United’s Carrington training base. Around £11m worth of much needed upgrades are being implemented but unfortunately it seemed to take the Super League fall-out to prompt it.
In the aftermath, Joel Glazer met with the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust for the first time in his family’s 16 years of ownership and told fans: ‘Our goal is to win every competition we compete in, and we will continue to invest in our academy and in the transfer market to support the manager in an effort to meet the club’s goals.
‘As a club we have devoted a lot of time and resources over the last several years updating and further developing our vast global scouting network to adapt to the modern football environment. This is a project that should provide a foundation for long term success in the years to come.’
Now, as Sportsmail reported back in June last year, £11m of works include new floodlights at Old Trafford and Carrington. Fresh pitches and facilities for the men and women’s teams at the training ground are also on the list, while new disabled facilities have already been completed.
United are now finally starting to invest money into their Carrington training base
Joel Glazer (centre) met with fans for the first time in the aftermath of the Super League fiasco
There was a fierce debate between Neville and Micah Richards on Sky Sports on Sunday about how wise United have been to appoint a manager on an interim basis.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer first took the role on such terms before his electrifying start as United boss convinced Woodward and the Glazers to hand him a permanent deal.
Now, with regard to Rangnick, Richards questioned why he ever became interim boss if there is not ever any intention for him to take the role as permanent manager.
‘Why give him the job in the first place? We’re talking about the here and now – so are you just getting rid of the season?’ Richards asked.
‘Chelsea have appointed interim managers until the end of the season when the manager they want becomes available,’ Neville said. ‘What should they have done?’
‘They should have gone for Conte, he was the best manager available before he went to Spurs,’ Richards retorted. ‘He’s a winner, he’d come from Inter Milan, he’s a winner.’
Neville replied: ‘They didn’t want him. I agree – he’s not a manager for Manchester United. He comes in, for one or two years, does a great job but they’ve been there with Jose Mourinho.
‘They want to appoint either Pochettino or Ten Hag on a long-term project and needed somebody to get there until the end of the season.’
Ultimately, the proof will be in the seasons to come. But with United now looking unlikely to land Champions League football next year, there will be more voices coming out on the side of Richards unless Rangnick can turn it around against the odds.
Micah Richards (second right) and Gary Neville had a debate on the use of interim managers
OUT OF CONTRACT STARS
A problem that has been years in the making – United have four potentially key players in their first team approaching the end of their contract this season and all of them look set to leave.
Edinson Cavani was a surprise omission against City are Rangnick implied the Uruguay forward would be fit to play in the Manchester derby. It seems inevitable that he will head on to pastures new at the end of the season.
The same seems to apply to Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. Lingard was eyeing an exit in the January window where as Pogba will likely head abroad in the summer with an array of potential suitors lining up for the France international.
Juan Mata is also expected to bring the curtain down on his eight years at United at the end of the current campaign. Bolstering attacking midfield options will be vital for whoever takes the United job this summer.
Paul Pogba is one of four United stars who are out of contract at the end of the season