Manchester United, the publicly traded company, is thriving after announcing club record profits of $775 million for the most recent financial year.
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Man United, the football club, not so much.
Six games into the 2019-20 Premier League season, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side has won just as many games (two) as it has each drawn and lost, collecting just eight points. There have been plenty of dire days since Sir Alex Ferguson‘s departure in 2013, but this season’s early days rank among some of the worst.
Alas, the health of the company appears to outweigh that of the club these days, leading executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to preach patience with Gunnar Solskjaer, citing “the investment in the academy, the recruitment department and the training ground facilities” as “the building blocks for success.”
“The progress we’ve made on the business side underpins our continued investment in the football side. Much of the investment in the academy, the recruitment department and the training ground facilities is not immediately apparent to those on the outside, but we believe we have put the building blocks in place for success.
“While we are confident this investment will deliver results it is important that we are patient as Ole and his team build for the future. We intend to get back to the top of English football. Our growing global fan-base demands success, and success means winning trophies. That target and that standard has never changed for Manchester United and we will continue to focus on the long-term strategy and won’t be influenced by short-term distractions. We want to return to the roots of our club’s ethos of youth-led, attacking football and we will continue to make the necessary investments to make it happen. This long-term approach to building a squad is the right one.”
As United is a publicly traded company, the decision to fire a manager requires far more consideration than any privately owned club would have to give. Typically, when a publicly traded club fires its manager, the company’s stock prices will dip. Given there’s no guarantee those prices will recover, the temptation to back a lame-duck manager for far too long is very real, and very dangerous.
For that reason alone, Solskjaer will have every possible opportunity to save his job, perhaps eventually more than he should be given.