What's going on with Manchester United?

Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion, 7 August 2022 (12)

With just two games gone into the new season Manchester Utd sit bottom of the Premier League table, with losses to Brighton at home, on the first game of the season, and Brentford away last weekend. Obviously it is early days of the season, and the last time Man Utd lost the first two games of the season they eventually went on to win the league. However the manner of their defeats have caused much anguish amongst supporters. Brighton were complete value for the victory the previous weekend and Man Utd were arguably worse against Brentford. Man Utd are currently 100/1 to win the Premier League after these 2 games (visit Lottoland sportsbook for latest odds). So what has gone wrong for Man Utd?

Decline of Manchester United

United have been a shadow of their former selves since Alex Ferguson last won the league in his final year with the club back in the 2012/13 season. However even the team that won the league that season was full of ageing players who arguably put in one last push to send Ferguson into retirement as a champion. Since then there have been six managers, with United ever eager to chop and change when things do not go right for them. Current manager Erik ten Hag is hoping to rebuild a lacklustre squad, yet his main targer Frenkie de Jong has still not been signed even though Ten Hag was appointed four months ago.

There have been a few signings, Christian Eriksen on a free, Lisandro Martínez for £48m and Tyrell Malacia for £13m. But the team is desperate for a midfielder that would improve on one of the current midfield pair of Fred or Scott McTominay. The uncertainty of Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Man Utd is also an issue when it comes to attacking options for the Red Devils. Ajax winger Antony has been linked throughout the summer window, but speaking to NOS, the Brazilian international admitted that he said ": "Will Ten Hag call me? No idea. He has to discuss this with my agents, I’m focused on here. What will come will come, we will see".

Financial perspective

The Glazer family undertook a debt-loaded takeover of Manchester Utd in 2005. The family borrowed most of the money – £525m, some at very high interest rates, from the bank JP Morgan. United have now paid a staggering three-quarters of a billion pounds (£743m) in interest since then. In addition since 2016 they have paid a hefty £166m in dividends to their shareholders, mainly the Glazers, averaging £22m a year.

Man Utd have also spent big in the transfer market, with £850m being spent in last 5 years. However this is money the club has generated, not provided by the owners. Utd's lack of success, despite the huge transfers, is a damning indictment of the club's recruitment. Wages now appear to be £387 million a year due to recent signings of Ronaldo, Varane and Sancho. This leads the wage table in the Premier League with Man City following with a wage bill of £355 million. Although Utd are in a relatively strong financial position compared to most clubs, but fans are increasingly angry that Utd appear wasteful with signings and continue to pay huge sums to the owners.

We also now have Elon Musk tweeting "I'm buying Manchester United", before quickly clarifying he wasn't serious by stating his post was part of a "long-running joke". That will surely charge the debate over the struggling club's future.