Ed Woodward once confessed, somewhat bizarrely, that he kept a photograph of the scoreboard from United’s 2-0 defeat at Olympiakos in 2014 as a reminder that the club must never sink so low under his tenure.
Presumably, he can’t manoeuvre in his office for keepsakes now as the club, and the mismanagement of the football side, lurch from one farce to the next. Woodward, of course, spelled out their priorities in one of those absurd investor calls - “playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we can do on the commercial side of the business” - and it will be the epitaph that follows him when he eventually leaves office. No other company so obsessed with money and profit would keep such a hapless operator in charge of its “core business”.
But Woodward is the figurehead of operations for the Glazer family, the man who oversaw their debt-ridden takeover. It took all of Fergie’s genius to maintain the façade that all was well. Taking nearly a billion out of the club in 15 short years on anything but football matters will eventually come at a cost.
The dislike and distrust of the Glazers never went away. They have never been welcomed by anyone who studied their practices. Of course, protests against them grow when results are bad but results are bad for more reasons than simply who currently sits in the dugout. An average squad, underinvestment, a scatter-gun transfer policy, then not backing two managers in successive transfer windows to give them a fighting chance to compete. Talk of two or three players coming in is about four short of what is actually needed.
Rome burns and Old Trafford leaks, the stadium’s cost-effective paint job, rather than its redevelopment, is a visual reminder of where priorities remain. Short-termism abounds.
The Green & Gold movement died out - protests organically grow and can fade and the United fans who protested at the Glazers’ buy-out in 2005 are now ageing or have departed.
Despite the average age of Old Trafford's support increasing, perhaps now is the opportunity for younger Manchester United supporters to take the baton and finally work out a way to unite the support and create fresh ideas about how to rid the club of owners who look at us as customers rather than supporters. The mass walk out against Burnley underlined the depth of feeling.
It’s almost as big a challenge as Ole faces working with one hand tied behind his back by a business that forgets it was a football club. But these problems won’t go away until they do, and I hope Old Trafford continues to show its support for the team but renews its dissatisfaction at the wilful neglect and root cause of all its problems.