A few years ago, a game between Manchester United and Arsenal would be eagerly awaited by football fans around the world. These were often explosive games, with fierce on pitch rivalries, such as Ian Wright v Peter Schmeichel, Patrick Viera v Roy Keane and Martin Keown v anyone who wanted to have a go.
These days Arsenal versus Manchester United is a fifth-place play-off with both clubs a shell of what they used to be. The great teams that used to dominate English football are a distant memory for all fans and now the clubs in their current states are sadly in no place to stage any sort of title challenge for the foreseeable future.
However, when looking at which club is in a better position to do so, you can’t help but think it is Arsenal. It’s true that the Gunners haven’t won a league title in over 15 years and have failed to mount a serious title challenge since the 2004-05 season. They have also failed to qualify for the Champions League for three years in a row and currently have a terrible defence.
But two things they do have that United currently don’t is a proven manager and people with a footballing brain who are conducting dealings in the transfer market.
In Unai Emery, Arsenal have one of the best managers in Europe who is attempting to change the course of a team that was heading in one direction, whilst their Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi, has years of experience in the game as a former Director of Football at Barcelona, and knows how to strike favourable deals for clubs.
The same cannot be said for United, who have underqualified men leading their club on and off the pitch. The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager was one of emotion and nothing more than an attempt by a very unpopular board to appease the fans and win favour, but United have lost ten of their last 20 games since he was given the job.
His only experience of managing in the Premier League saw him guide Cardiff to relegation in the 2013-14 season and was sacked by the Welsh side, but he has shown no sign of being able to stop the rot at Old Trafford. When Solskjaer was given the job, it was said that United are too big a club for him to manage at this stage of his career – and it seems this is the case.
But Solskjaer is not the sole target to blame for United’s current problems, more so it is down to a series of failings from the club’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward. His priority to further grow the club’s commercial enterprise rather than concentrate on success on the pitch has damaged the club and any chance of recapturing past glory’s anytime soon.
His reluctance to part with cash in transfer windows prior to the summer of 2019 has set them back years. The results on the pitch show no sign of improving and with a man who is driven by financial success off the pitch, these are worrying times for Manchester United.