Manchester United have become the Dallas Cowboys of World Football and it’s a damn shame.
For those not in the know of the American sports bar debates, an argument against a Cowboys fan will inevitably end with, “OH YEAH?! WE GOT FIVE SUPER BOWLS! HOW MANY DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE?!”
Of course, unless you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan with six Super Bowls, a San Francisco 49ers fan with five Super Bowls or a Patriots fan with five Super Bowls, you technically can’t counter that argument because, yes, the Cowboys had a lot of incredible success years ago.
The Cowboys are now known for chaotic ownership that undermines the people hired to steer the football side of the operation, a mediocre coach that must have an incredibly damning piece of blackmail to still hold his job, placing more importance on being the subject of conversation over titles, and flaunting vast sums of money and opulence while the fans continue to wonder why the team isn’t better.
Stop me when this all sounds familiar.
It’s only fitting that, when you pull up Forbes’ list of the most valuable sporting brands in the world, you’ll find the Cowboys first at $4.8 billion and Manchester United second with $4.1 billion.
While United’s title drought isn’t as long as the Cowboys — Dallas last won the Super Bowl in 1995 but United won the Premier League in 2012-13 — the number of the competitions in which United play further amplifies the discrepancy.
Furthermore, styles of play are direct reasons for the disparity in success. The NFL is seeing an offensive boom with teams scoring at will through intricate aerial displays, however, the Cowboys, their recent win against the New Orleans Saints aside, try to attack their opponents through the running game and spotty passing play.
Week after week, United fans across the world are subjected to a plodding style of football that simply does not work anymore. Mourinho made his name by frustrating his opponents and parking the bus, but the days of playing without the ball for the majority of the match and then stealing one goal on the counter attack to win 1-0 are over.
Pep Guardiola and his deal with the devil created one of the most incredible displays of attacking football in the world through aggressive possession and intricate passing. On the Merseyside of things, Jurgen Klopp has rebuilt Liverpool by pressing opponents into submission. The two most exciting and successful teams in England right now — not too mention United’s direct derby rivals — are winning by attacking.
As The Busby Babe’s Aidan Boland previously wrote this week, Ed Woodward is frankly more concerned with making splashes on social media. Roster moves don’t need to make sense tactically as long as it gets hundreds of thousands of retweets and sells a couple hundred thousand more shirts.
Some of our biggest transfer moves in recent memory were all but locked up, but the official announcement took days longer after the signing because the Paul Pogba transfer or the Romelu Lukaku transfer or the Alexis Sánchez transfer needed a fire Instagram video. Sánchez spent more time playing that damn piano then he has playing meaningful minutes in a United kit.
As of now, Manchester United miraculously backed its way into the Champions League Knockout Rounds and sits precariously close to the middle of the table but is more than likely safe from relegation. So another year will finish with United collecting a big pile of money for appearing in top flight competition.
However, as well all know, this is just not good enough, and the club will stagnate as it continues to accept mediocrity on the pitch. Manchester City and Liverpool are winning the hearts and minds of casual and new fans of football.
This is the new reality for Manchester United supporters until things change drastically. The Glazers will count their money, Ed Woodward will gush over a new brand video on Youtube, and we will be stuck in a pub screaming, “OH YEAH?! WE HAVE 20 FIRST DIVISION TITLES! HOW MANY DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE?!”