Jose Mourinho has spent over £300m since being appointed manager of Manchester United in 2016, but only has the Europa League and League Cup to show for his efforts. His second campaign in Manchester ended trophyless.
It’s been five seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson had retired and United are still a shadow of their former self. Sir Alex won 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups and two Champions Leagues in his 27 years at Old Trafford, but his successors are crumbling under the weight of expectation.
United have spent around £650m since Ferguson stepped down as manager but still aren’t a commanding presence in the Premier League or Europe. Would the same have been said under Ferguson, had he spent such a large amount of money? How much more will it cost to have United realistically challenge in the league and Champions League?
Last season was a low point for United. They were eliminated by Bristol City in the League Cup and suffered a shock exit to Sevilla in the Champions League. Last month, the Red Devils were defeated by Chelsea in the FA Cup final.There’s been little to cheer about in the last 12 months.
United finished second in the Premier League last season, but they were 19 points behind leaders Manchester City.
The post-Ferguson era has not been a great one. David Moyes’ time in charge saw Man United spent £67m to sign Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Guillermo Varela, only to end the season in seventh place – their lowest finish since 1990. Ryan Giggs took interim charge in April until the end of the season after Moyes was sacked.
He added Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay, Radamel Falcao (loan), Anthony Martial, Marcos Rojo, Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger to the squad, but only managed to win one FA Cup and finish fourth and sixth in his two years in charge.
Mourinho enters his third year at Old Trafford and has already spent over £300 million on players, including a then-record fee of £89m for Paul Pogba from Juventus. The spending has yielded little effect, as fans are discontent with United’s playing style and are unconvinced they can challenge for the title next season.
Under Ferguson, United would never consider finishing 19 points off the champions as making progress. The Red Devils are no longer the threat they used to be and the majority of their signings since 2013 have failed to prove their worth.
United are suffering an identity crisis, now happy to win the Europa League rather than the Champions League and only finishing in the top-four twice in the last five years – something Ferguson would never entertain if he was still in charge.
Hardly two years would pass without a league title coming their way, but failure next season could make it six years without a Premier League crown.