Muddled thinking and clouded strategy: Manchester United are just trying the same thing over and over again

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the latest Old Trafford manager to come under pressure after executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward oversaw another unbalanced transfer window

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One manager in place for 26 years; five through a revolving door in the seven years since.

And the first hint of another change sooner rather than later.

Manchester United are no longer the benchmark of success in English football, they are a shambles, a mishmash of muddled thinking and clouded strategy.

Whether or not there is substance in the former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino being sounded out as a possible replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it is an indication of how disorientated United have become.

Trying the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

After Alex Ferguson’s inauspicious start at Old Trafford – and remember he had to fashion success from a supremely under-achieving organisation – talk of him being replaced had no place at the club or on the terraces. He was an institution running an institution, amassing 38 trophies.

David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and now Solskjaer have followed, and while there has been the occasional success none of them, in football parlance, has been fit to lace Ferguson’s boots.

Last weekend, a club which prides itself on being one of the biggest in world football, was humiliated in a 6-1 home Premier League defeat by Mourinho’s Tottenham.

While one result should never be the trigger to replace a manager, the fact it is even being discussed is a reflection of the turmoil inside Old Trafford. And once again the spotlight shines on who is to blame.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, sat watching alone in the stand, left the Tottenham defeat with plenty to contemplate.

It came the day before the transfer window shut and, despite their struggles, United’s headline new recruit was Edinson Cavani, a 33-year-old striker. For free.

Solskjaer was initially the injection of energy and optimism that United needed. He promised a return to the "United way", bringing through young players and committing to returning to the days of a whirlwind attacking force.

To get to the next level, the Norwegian first wanted to bring in striker Erling Haaland in January, one of Europe’s rising stars. Instead, Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund.

This window, Solskjaer wanted Jadon Sancho from Dortmund, a player with electric pace and thrilling potential. Negotiations, the realm of Woodward, broke down, and Sancho stayed put.

Manchester United Chief Executive Ed Woodward watches on from the stands during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 4, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Alex Livesey/NMC Pool/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward watches from the Old Trafford stands as Tottenham cruise to victory. PA

Since Woodward replaced David Gill in May 2013, he has overseen 15 transfer windows, with 37 major signings.

That he wields so much influence, yet sees the managers come and go, all of them shouldering the blame for another season of being outclassed by city, English and European rivals, should be a reflection of Woodward’s time at the helm, as much as the parted coaches.

United aren't the first club to struggle to get the players they want but after the glory years of Ferguson and Gill, when players would be honoured to get a call, rather than look the other way, it is a stark contrast.

Woodward leaves another transfer deadline behind, with the fans again asking questions of the vice chairman. And Solskjaer, more than likely, carrying the can.