They had 37 attempts on goal, 72% possession, 19 corners, they hit the post, they hit the bar, but still Manchester United couldn’t break through the rock hard defence of Burnley at Old Trafford on Saturday. It was a similar story to their last home match against Stoke a month ago, where for all their huffing and puffing they could only manage a 1-1 draw. Two matches, 61 shots at goal, a grand total of one goal scored. When your luck’s out, it’s out. Just ask Lewis Hamilton.
No doubt the ABUs are wallowing gleefully in Schadenfreude at United’s latest misfortune. Cue echoes of ‘I told you so’ at the appointment of Jose Mourinho after his latest attention grabbing antics saw him ignominiously sent to the stands for protesting too much at Darmian’s probably correctly denied penalty appeal in the first half. No one is better at diverting attention away from the team than Mourinho, but whether that is a good thing, even when the team are struggling and could perhaps do with having attention diverted away from them, is debatable. However, United are stuck with him for better, for worse. Changing managers yet again would only serve to destabilise the club further.
It is not mercurial managers nor mediocre players who are the real problem. History is against Manchester United. The previous two teams to dominate English football before Fergie’s United both suffered a precipitous decline in their league fortunes in the aftermath. Matt Busby’s Manchester United reigned supreme in the 50s and 60s, but after Busby’s retirement it would take United 26 years to win the league title again. Likewise, Liverpool ruled the roost from the late 60s up to 1990, but they have not won the league title since. 26 years and counting. A long period of league domination followed by an equally prolonged decline is the inevitable trajectory of the supremely successful team. The pride and the fall.
So United’s current decline was inevitable. The media may obsess and the opposition fans taunt, but United fans will need to be patient and take it all on the chin. The glory days will be back, but the wheel of fortune may take a while to turn again. Just so long as it doesn’t take 26 years…