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In The Presence of Adversity...

In the presence of adversity is when the true character of a person gets tested to its fullest, a sentence that quite possibly encompasses to its fullest the current predicament that is occurring at Man Utd at this very moment. In what has been one of the worst starts to a season for the club, fortunately not coming close to what the Manchester United fanbase had to endure the season prior for sure, there is an increased flurry of emotions going throughout the community as people are left wondering what in the hell is going on behind closed doors at Manchester United. The team barely managed to scrap away a win on home ground through sheer dumb luck, but unfortunately that luck dissipated almost as fast as it came when Manchester United got embarrassed by Tottenham Hotspur as they put on a commanding performance in front of their home fans and walked away with all three points against a dejected Manchester United side that seemed void of an identity or a will to fight for the badge…an action that is considered as close to a cardinal sin by the Manchester United family as anything else. There has been no shortage of furious rants from ex players, social media accounts, rival fans dancing on our misery as expected, and even worse an incredible amount of rage coming directly from the Red Devil faithful who have literally endured some of the worst performances to date right in front of their eyes as they travelled far and wide to support their club….justifiable rage to be honest, but only when you look at things from a certain point of view. From a broader, more unbiased viewpoint where you can see the entire picture of what is actually going on, it doesn’t take long to realize that the actual problems plaguing this club are far more deeply rooted than many would care to admit and has been the key source of issues that Erik ten Hag as well as his predecessors have unfortunately become victims to under the ownership of the Glazers.

How can Erik ten Hag be expected to push his rebuild into the next stage when the boardroom that is supposed to back him in every manner possible cannot even clear out the necessary deadwood in order to bring in fresh and hungry new faces that would push his team onto the next level?! For months now, taking into account the manager’s new approach in his playing style which gave the impression that he was guaranteed the promise of adequate backing to sign the necessary players that can solve some of the key issues he had to persevere through last season, one of the major ones being the lack of a recognized striker for which Rashford and Weghorst did their best to provide as best enough cover during the 2022/23 season. His main target, which was an open secret, was Tottenham’s marquee talisman Harry Kane whose reliability in front of goal was unmatched by most, maintaining at least a 30 goal season for the past six seasons without fail in a team that was never anywhere near a title race let alone a fight for European competitions…and the player himself was keen on the move, not only for the chance to play under the lights at Old Trafford but be able to pursue the Premier League record set by Alan Shearer that has stood for decades. Alongside this potential signing Ten Hag was also looking to station a younger prospect right behind Kane from whom he can learn from and eventually take his spot when the time was right, one of Denmark’s very own and brightest up and coming talents in Rasmus Hojlund of Atalanta who was eventually signed for a hefty 64 million pounds after shaking off competition from PSG who tried to make a late run for the young forward. It was in itself a tall order for Ten Hag to ask for both Kane and Hojlund, especially with Manchester United wary of dealing with Daniel Levy of Spurs who is notorious for never letting his key players join direct rivals, but there was ambition to Ten Hag’s vision for this team for the upcoming season and he had hoped that Manchester United will reciprocate his wishes and do everything they could to see it through. Unfortunately, Erik’s dream scenario was eventually crushed as Bayern decided to throw a spanner into Manchester United’s approach for Kane and eventually signed him for a record €110 million to take him to the Bundesliga under Thomas Tuchel, leaving Manchester United with a situation where they have a young and apparently injured forward who is not quite ready to lead the line at Old Trafford just yet with practically no other recognized striker to compete with as Anthony Martial had become too unreliable for Ten Hag to trust anymore and Marcus Rashford being even less effective as expected when played out of position.

Unfortunately for Manchester United, Bayern had previously managed to screw their transfer plans even more as they earlier on went for what was at the time Erik Ten Hag’s priority CB target in Napoli’s South Korean ‘Destroyer’, Kim Min Jae. Named as the best defender in Serie A for the 2022/23 season, he was part of the title-winning Napoli side that took the football world by storm as they cruised past the competition in Italy to win the scudetto for the first time in 33 years after the legendary Diego Maradona led them to that prestigious honour in 1990. His speed, power, and clear dominance of his position not to mention his distribution capabilities made him the perfect CB signing that Ten Hag longed for at Manchester United to compete with his current starters in Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, and luckily for the Red Devils there was an active clause in his contract that allowed him to leave Napoli this summer for a rather affordable price as long as the club interested was willing to pay the release clause before the allotted deadline. There were reports coming from Italy that stated that not only had Manchester United made a clear effort to take advantage of that release clause but had eventually come to an agreement that would see Kim Min Jae join the Red Devils this summer after he had served his mandatory military service back home in South Korea…that was, until Bayern Munich decided to take advantage of Manchester United’s well known slow approach to transfers and handed the player and his entourage an offer that literally blew Manchester United’s out of the water. The club’s incapability to react to such a setback quickly enough allowed Bayern to iron out the rest of the details that would confirm the signing and by the time the Red Devils tried to get themselves back into the race, it was already too late as Fabrizio Romano confirmed the €50 million signing of Kim Min Jae for Bayern to replace the departing Lucas Hernandez who was heading to Ligue Un to represent PSG. Once again, for the second time this summer Manchester United failed to acquire a key target for a player who no one literally expected to be even available in the transfer market given Napoli’s tendency to hoard players for extortionate price tags leaving the club to scramble for alternatives that could offer something as close to Kim Min Jae as possible. Missing out on Kim Min Jae may be regarded as the worst failure for this Manchester United board so far when it came to bringing in a world class target for such an affordable price, and unfortunately it ended up becoming one of many failures that have exposed in great detail the lack of experience that is sitting at the top of football operations at Manchester United as well as reflecting negatively on Richard Arnold’s leadership of the club as its CEO…

Losing out on Harry Kane and Kim Min Jae can be remedied as long as we do enough due diligence to find alternatives that can deliver on what ETH is trying to build, but the one area where Manchester United has failed him the most is also the one area that has plagued this club for years to no end…and that’s the midfield. The one area where Erik Ten Hag needed a massive overhaul since he joined Manchester United, it was paramount that as much of the deadwood be moved on as quickly as possible in order to allow the manager to bring in fresh and hungry players who would add to the overall quality of our depth in one of the most vulnerable positions in this squad, and for a couple of weeks it seemed that the club was well on its way to fulfilling ETH’s wishes and bring in the players he wanted to change the overall look of our midfield…and then, out of nowhere, one thing led to another and all hell decided to break loose and throw

Manchester United’s entire transfer window into turmoil. In what has been deemed the dumbest move that this club could’ve done this window, the club allowed one of ETH’s key players from last season to leave for new pastures in Fred without a proper replacement ready to join up and it has exposed the team’s fragile midfield setup in ways many thought would've be improved upon by the time the new season commenced. The signing of Mason Mount from Chelsea, who was meant to be Eriksen’s eventual replacement due to the latter not being physical enough to keep up with midfield opposition, has not exactly been off to a good start as people are still wondering what position he plays in ETH’s future setup and have now begun speculating if we made a massive error in bringing him to Old Trafford. In the most previous game against Spurs he was tasked to play in a role that was mainly handed to Fred who was a constant partner to his Brazilian compatriot in Casemiro in that three-man midfield creating a sense of synchronicity that allowed the latter to operate in his role more effectively, but as a result of the change in personnel it has instead left Casemiro more exposed than ever in the centre of the park creating large gaps that two Premier League teams have taken advantage of very well, with the stronger team in Spurs eventually capitalizing on their opportunities and making Manchester United pay for their mistakes with an embarrassing loss away from home. Mount was meant to be Eriksen’s successor, not Fred’s…and Manchester United’s failure in making sure that key part of the midfield is properly covered with a worthy Fred replacement has been one of the most disastrous moves a top 6 team has made in this window so far putting this club’s entire season into jeopardy if not dealt with before the window shuts in two weeks. Sofyan Amrabat has been the rumoured player who Erik ten Hag wants to take Fred’s place in his team, and luckily for the manager he has rejected incredibly lucrative offers from very powerful clubs in order to prioritize a move to Old Trafford this summer…but for how long can the Red Devils capitalize on Amrabat’s patience when other clubs in search for a defensive midfielder are still hot on his trail with Bayern being one of them?! Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice…could Bayern end up doing the impossible and deliver a knockout strike in claiming three of Erik ten Hag’s key players right from under our noses, not exactly a reality I want to witness anytime soon especially with the chaos that is brewing behind the walls of Old Trafford at this very moment...

Thankfully we were able to solve some of the key problems in the GK, ST, and CM positions with the signings of Onana, Hojlund, and Mount…but it’s more than clear that they are nowhere near enough to provide ETH with the platform to take his rebuild into the next stage and get this club as close to City and Arsenal as possible. What’s even worse about this whole debacle is that the club is making it as close to impossible to move out deadwood as efficiently as possible, no doubt one of the parting gifts that Ed Woodward left behind when he resigned from his position as CEO and left this club in even more trouble than ever before with players under ludicrous contracts that make it hard to move them on. Not too long ago Manchester United had received an offer of 60 million pounds to relieve themselves of the services of McTominay and Maguire and allow them to join David Moyes at West Ham…but they eventually refused, believing that they could get a bigger piece of the pie that West Ham got after selling Declan Rice to Arsenal for a whopping 105 million pounds. Murtough and Manchester United took a gamble believing that they can force West Ham to acquiesce to their demands and be able to generate a greater profit from selling homegrown players, but unfortunately they ended up paying for it big time as the Hammers decided to take their business elsewhere and eventually signed James Ward-Prowse from a relegated Southampton for 30 million pounds as well as advancing their interest as of late in Mohamed Kudus of Ajax pretty much all but ending their pursuit of Scott McTominay while heading to the Bundesliga to push for the signing of Mavropanos of Stuttgart with Maguire seemingly refusing to leave the Red Devils without a proper payoff. 60 million to get rid of two players Erik ten Hag made clear he no longer wanted at Manchester United, and yet again the DOF failed to deliver in one of the most crucial windows for ETH and his plans for this club…and I will be honest, just typing this sentence alone is making my blood boil having to witness an inexperienced Director of Football be so toothless at a time where the manager needs a cutthroat approach to support him in his endeavours if Manchester United ever intend to compete for major honours anytime soon. Four other managers at least have had to face similar problems with their time at the club, and yet again in one of the most critical windows of his tenure as manager Erik ten Hag is currently being left hung to dry by one of the worst footballing setups in world football…and on occasion, like clockwork, the Glazers will try to throw money at a Galactico signing that they hope not only energizes the fanbase but pretty much silences the outrage building up around them and their horrid ownership of the club. That being said, the current atmosphere surrounding the club has never been this intense from my recollection thanks to a number of key factors like the handling of the Mason Greenwood situation that has legitimately pissed off the vocal part of the community to no end, the delay in the potential sale of the club to what many hope is Sheikh Jassim that has thrown a huge spanner in what were the primary plans for this summer window, and the continuous infuriating pattern of not backing the current manager when it is needed the most in acquiring the necessary players to allow this team to compete on all fronts. There is now the actual possibility of a situation where the Glazers would only have to say one wrong thing and end up giving birth to a reaction far more intense and unfortunately aggressive than what occurred after the Super League announcement, and one would think they’d be advised consistently to not attempt to light the fuse that literally turns Old Trafford into a battleground…but known for their stubbornness when it comes to their greed, will they heed the warnings been given all over the place or will they end up walking into what could be a very disastrous moment that the Premier League itself would love nothing more than to avoid at all costs watching one of its most recognized clubs be dragged into an all-out war on live television?!

In retrospect, the team’s collapse at Spurs was more or less a trigger of something far deeper that has worried the Manchester United faithful for months, and because of a number of situations that have occurred within the club no thanks to the mishandling of the Greenwood saga by the higher-ups for starters the state of matters at the institution is quite frankly on the edge of a major implosion that could cripple the club even further than what ETH has to deal with. The level of confusion and lack of clarity over important matters, especially the supposed sale of the club, has led people to take out their anger on a team that may as well be suffering under the same lack of ambition from the board leaving them to wonder if it’s worth it putting everything on the line for a club that cares nothing about their hunger to compete. This has also unfortunately given way to specific factions of the fan base to push their agendas against certain individuals at the club that they don’t like with Antony, Rashford, Bruno, and even ETH receiving the full brunt of the unnecessary slander, but it is also because of this that the majority yet again fail to focus on the one thing that has been constant in every meltdown that we have had to experience from Manchester United...who is the one who named an unexperienced John Murtough as the Director of Football, who is the one who named Richard Arnold as Woodward’s successor when he has had little to no experience at all running a club as prestigious as Manchester United, who is the one that allows transfers to drag out for so long to the point we end up wasting even more money to get key players through the doors at Carrington, and who are the ones who make sure that the community is so divided that they're blind from realizing who is truly the head of the snake that needs to be cut off in order to allow this club to heal…?! In the presence of adversity is when the true character of a person gets tested to its fullest. It is also the moment when one’s composure and wisdom is pushed to its very limit trying to remain as still as a rock within a rampaging current that is hellbent on knocking you out of your perch and blind you from seeing the truth within the recurring flood of bombarding emotions from all over. So when will this fan base learn enough to realize how much we are being manipulated from seeing who the real head of the snake really is in this drama-filled summer window, that is the question that I will leave to the rest of you while hoping that our fortunes turn around soon for Erik ten Hag and his squad who are in desperate need of our support if they intend to see this horrid beginning to the season through…until next time lads, thanks for reading and Godspeed on your current endeavours.

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