Pages after pages have been written about Manchester United’s failure to do even the most basic of footballing things -- like buying defenders to replace Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic instead of getting another left winger. If Ed Woodward is indeed solely responsible for our transfer shortcomings, then he has been nothing more than a child playing FIFA Ultimate Team with his father’s credit card.
However, all clubs go through periods of great upheaval. But the sheer toxicity of the fanbase is no better than Woodward’s transfer policy. Our transfer budgets have not been an issue in recent years and it’s also a strange thing that no matter the player we buy, they underperform. Managers also underperform after their honeymoon phase is over. Maybe Manchester United as an organisation is underperforming and it’s all trickling down onto the pitch. Even the best professionals can’t perform to their fullest in a dysfunctional environment.
While the fans are wasting their precious data discussing Alderweireld vs Koulibaly, we as a club have lost our sense of identity from both sides of the pitch. United was never about throwing money at the cup until we win. We always had one or two marquee signings every year (Carrick, Berbatov, van Persie) and that too would be one of the best players in the Premier League. Our focus would always be on the wonderkids we signed. Things are different now. The fans think they are makeshift scouts with their ScoutNation videos, FIFA stats and Football Manager databases. There’s a wealth of information available that can make any player look good if you know the right stats to pick. A lot goes behind a transfer that makes our internet “research” look like a child’s analysis.
The infighting is even worse. There was the entire #MourinhoOut debacle that alienated a large chunk of the fanbase who were Mou fans. After the string of bad results following the win against PSG, newly appointed manager Ole Gunner Solskjær is now under fire from a set of fans who think that Mourinho should have never been fired. This is all understandable. The club navigating the league in such rudderless fashion makes us fans feel helpless and from this frustration, we’ve been acting out against each other — trying to be the one who’s in the right. And that’s the saddest part, we’re desperately looking for something… anything that is going right with this club.
One good thing is that there is a way for us fans to voice our concerns. Rather than fighting with each other or trying to force the club into doing specific actions like buying certain players, we could simply unite in our agreement that whoever is running the club, has no idea how football works. The #UnfollowManUnited movement is about unfollowing all of United’s social media platforms to show dissatisfaction towards the club that fans feel. Since United is a global brand now and recent years have shown that they are more interested in lifting revenue figures than cups, if enough people join, this will have a noticeable effect. In essence, the movement asks you to stop giving any attention to United as a brand.
At the end of the day, fans arguing with each other about United won’t make any difference. If anything, it’ll work as a distraction against a backdrop of bigger issues.