Record revenues off the field, record deficits on it. Welcome to Manchester United’s new world circa 2019.
On Sunday, against a Newcastle United side that is no stranger to troubles of its own, Manchester United succumbed to a 1-0 defeat as it continued its worst start to a league season since 1989.
On that occasion 30 years ago, United managed to accrue eight points before going on to finish 13th.
Such an end to this season for a club of United’s wealth and stature worth nearly $4 billion, according to Forbes would rank as one of modern football’s greatest failures.
Should United’s malaise be combined with Liverpool’s first league title triumph in 30 years Jurgen Klopp’s team has an eight-point lead over Manchester City it will represent the sort of nightmare that would have fans of Football Manager constantly hitting the restart button until there is no feeling left in their finger.
Just two points separate United from the Premier League relegation zone and though only eight games of this fledgling Premier League season have passed, it remains rather mystifying how a club of such great riches can also be the source of such startling ineptitude.
“I don’t know what is happening,” said goalkeeper David de Gea after being asked for his assessment of United’s dreadful start to the season.United has now scored just nine goals in eight league games and four of those came on the opening day of the season.
For those such as Gary Neville, a former United player who enjoyed great success under Alex Ferguson, the blame for the club’s demise is clear.
“The quality is not right, the depth of their squad is not good enough and they have taken a step back,” Neville told Sky Sports after the defeat at Newcastle.
“Their recruitment has been bad now and woeful for many years, they have been all over the place, with different styles of managers and ways of playing.”They need five or six top players into that squad, and they are going to cost a lot of money.”
Neville added: “(The board) have cocked this up over many years. They cocked it up, they are responsible for this. Poor recruitment, poor selection of managers, going with them and then pulling off them.
“While Manchester City and Liverpool have both excelled in the transfer market over the past five years, United has made error after error since Ferguson retired in 2013.