Fresh from their 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, it appears to be a case of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose for Manchester United – “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
However, I fancy that there are reasons to believe that we are at the end of an era for the mighty Lancashire club.
Liverpool dominated the English football scene back in the ’70s and ’80s, winning four European Cups and eleven top flight league titles. They have one only one European Cup equivalent since, and no Premier League titles.
Arsenal won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during Arsene Wenger’s first nine years at the club, but nothing in his next eight. Who would have foreseen that?
I foresee the potentially unforeseeable of Manchester United now also going a few years without trophies, and here are the signs. United have played only two teams so far this season from last season’s top seven in the Premier League (Chelsea and Liverpool) and have failed to win either match or score a single goal.
They have played two league games at home so far, and failed to score a single goal in open play in either of them (a penalty and a free kick defeated Crystal Palace).
Chelsea have beaten United the last three times they played them in the 2012-13 season, 1-0 at Old Trafford in the league, 1-0 in the quarter final of the FA Cup and 5-4 after extra time in the Carling Cup.
Manchester City won 2-1 and Spurs won 3-2, both at Old Trafford, last season in the league.
United still won the title, but that was mainly down to their ruthless demolition of the smaller clubs, something that their championship chasing counterparts City and Chelsea failed to manage.
In Europe, there has been a similar decline. Since they were outclassed by Barcelona in the Champions League final of 2011, United were dumped into the relative ignominy of the Europa League in 2012 after losing or drawing four of their six group encounters. They were then totally outplayed by Athletic Bilbao in the knock out stages, being beaten home and away by the Spanish side, who themselves could only muster 10th in their own so-called weaker domestic league.
Last season United failed to progress beyond the last 16 of the Champions League.
So the acid test for this theory could well come as early as this weekend when United travel to their neighbours City, who coincidentally have also had a stuttered start.
The difference is City have spent more money than is seen at the blackjack tables of NagaWorld, while United have spent £27.5 million ($43.7 million ) for some bloke with a mullet.
Bob Morton has a first-class degree in Media and is the only person in history to win the Daily Mirror’s ‘You The Manager’ World Cup and Premier League Manager of the Month prizes back to back in July and August of 2010.