Liverpool and Manchester United have often alternated between their successes. When Manchester United dominated in the 1990s and 2000s, Liverpool were nowhere near challenging.
When Liverpool dominated in the 1970s and 1980s, Manchester United were not successful and were even relegated in the 1973-74 season. At time of writing, Manchester United are seven points off Liverpool with a game in hand. Last season, they finished third but were 33 points behind Liverpool who were crowned champions.
Many football teams can buy great players or have good coaching. However, the one factor that can guide a team is how a team is managed higher up. The way a clubs are run can make or break teams.
Football ownership has been keen to the success for football teams for years, which is something that doesn’t always get noticed.
The Issues At Manchester United
Manchester United are owned by the Glazer family. They are one of the biggest and most marketable clubs in world football, but the way the team is ran is having significant impact on how the team is performing on the pitch.
The red half of Manchester have struggled since Sir Alex Ferguson retired after the conclusion of the 2012/13 season.
Whilst you can blame alot of this on the managers they have brought in, the boardroom have to take a massive share in the blame.
Manchester United’s Managerial Issues
David Moyes had the tough task of replacing Ferguson after a successful eleven years with Everton. He struggled to fill the boots and was sacked less than a year into his time with Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal came in the same summer he guided the Netherlands to the 2014 World Cup semi final. He won an FA Cup in 2016 but still lost his job. His replacement was José Mourinho who has won two Champions Leagues and three Premier League titles. He also struggled and was also sacked.
These are three managers who have had previous success that have all failed to keep their jobs. There appears to be a power struggle at Old Trafford.
Issues With Transfers
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward’s first transfer window was in 2013. This was the same year Ferguson retired. This is no coincidence. In the 2013 summer window, Man United were linked with lots of players but none of these moves materialised.
Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were all players that Moyes reportedly wanted. None of these individuals ended up joining and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini was reunited with his former manager on deadline day for £27.5 million.
This appeared to show desperation from the club who clearly wanted to make that signing after missing out on their top targets.
José Mourinho complained before the start of the 2018/19 season of his failed attempts to get a centre back. He would be sacked midway through that same season.
Who can forget the Jadon Sancho debacle in the most recent transfer window. Was he coming? Was he not? There was conflicting reports every day before it was eventually announced that Borussia Dortmund’s English attacker would not be leaving.
We have also seen many players come to Manchester United with reputation and tonnes of excitement. Loan signing Radamel Falcao was a goal machine at Atlético Madrid and Porto. Ángel Di María won a Champions League man of the match the same summer he signed in 2014. Paul Pogba broke the record for the highest transfer fee ever in football when he moved from Juventus for £89.3 million in 2016.
All three came in with plenty of expectation. Falcao scored just 4 goals in 26 Premier League goals. Di María started life in Manchester well but a lack of form and a burglary in his Cheshire home saw Di María become unsettled. He would only last a season.
Pogba, whilst at times has shown flashes, has not hit the heights that many thought he would reach.
The Impact Of Michael Edwards
Meanwhile, Liverpool have signed players in the past three to four seasons that have elevated this team. A major factor in these signings has been sporting director Michael Edwards.
Edwards was appointed sporting director in November 2016, but had a say in the transfers before his appointment into the role he currently occupies.
Michael Edwards’s Clever Business
Sadio Mané was seen as a overpayment when he joined from Southampton in 2016 for over £30 million. Mohamed Salah was seen as a Chelsea flop when he signed the following summer.
Andy Robertson and Georginio Wijnaldum were both signed from relegated clubs and noone knew too much about Roberto Firmino.
Whilst Virgil Van Dijk and Allison were signed for big money, which they received from the Phillipe Coutinho sale, both signings were still questioned. Van Dijk was seen as an overpayment. Allison was seen as the keeper who let in five goals against Roma at Anfield, in Liverpool’s Champions League semi final first leg win just a few months previously.
This shows the smart business made by manager Jürgen Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards, who deserves alot of recognition for how Liverpool have transformed over the years.
It is not just the players Edwards has brought in, it is also the players he has sold and the fee Edwards has managed to get.
Christian Benteke was sold to Crystal Palace after a disappointing single season at Anfield for an amount not too far off the price Liverpool paid for the Belgian twelve months earlier.
Jordon Ibe was seen as the next Raheem Sterling but didn’t live up to the hype. He was sold to Bournemouth for £15 million despite only scoring 4 goals for the club in 58 games. Dominic Solanke was brought in from Chelsea but only scored one goal in 27 appearances. He was also moved on to Bournemouth, with Edwards managing to get £19 million from the Cherries.
To further emphasise how good a job Michael Edward has done as sporting director, Bournemouth paid more for Solanke and Ibe combined, than Liverpool paid for Sadio Mane.
Solanke has scored 9 goals in 86 appearances for both Liverpool and Bournemouth.
In 150 appearances combined for Liverpool and Bournemouth, Ibe scored just 9 goals and was sold to Derby County this summer.
Meanwhile, Mane has scored 111 goals in 256 appearances since moving to England in 2014. He has won a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and a Premier League.
There has to be consideration for how much a team’s performances can be affected by how the club is managed higher up.
We have seen how two teams’s fortunes have changed since the arrivals of members in the boardroom. We have seen Man United’ Ed Woodward not get the club the players that they wanted. Liverpool’s Michael Edwards has made some smart business whilst at the club, overseeing the club’s most successful period since the 70s and 80s.