During and since Manchester United’s horrendous season under David Moyes, many have asked whether the club is now on the same interminable slide as the last great English club team – namely the all-conquering and seemingly invulnerable Liverpool side of the 70’s and 80’s.
The suggestion, which is largely inescapable, is that every empire crumbles. No matter how hard you fight it, every great institution is eventually succeeded by another.
And while it’s true that teams like Manchester City and Chelsea have blown everyone else out of the water financially in the last decade, and played some irresistible football along the way, Manchester United have been lucky.
Because while the Merseyside giants waned just as the crazy money was coming into football, Manchester United have exploited that commercial boom to its fullest. They have not only won more prize money and TV revenues than any other club year on year for two decades, but they have also built up their stadium to a whopping 75,000. In hindsight, and with Fifa FairPlay regulations now biting, this was an incredibly smart move – giving Manchester United more buying power than the rest due to their massive revenues.
Manchester United are similar in many ways to Bayern Munich in Germany. They may have the odd bad season but, providing they keep an astute management team in place, they are too big to crumble.
We have no doubt that the latest purchases will have a huge impact at Manchester United. And with 3 or 4 more top players likely to come in this summer – without wishing to tempt fate – it’s hard to imagine United finishing out of the top four come May 2015.
The Premier League remains the most competitive in the world. But while many clubs gleefully enjoyed Manchester United’s malaise last season the most prominent and empirical question for next season could well be ‘did you really expect Manchester United to just lie down?’
Manchester United fans: where will the club finish in the league next season?