By Patrick Vaillancourt, Columnist
Even with a star-studded lineup skippered by English football legend Wayne Rooney, Manchester United is stumbling into this season of Barclay’s Premier League.
Fans are furious and the ownership group at Old Trafford seems to be getting impatient with the team. Without the prospect of Champions League football for the club, Manchester United had to spend a lot of money on its recent signings, trying to lure top talent to the storied club.
The club recently went on a flurry of expensive, high-profile signings, spending over 150-million Euros (or $213.6 million) on soccer superstars such as Radamel Falcao, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, and most notably, Angel Di Maria.
Despite the new signings, Manchester United went down in defeat recently to Leicester, a team which was only promoted to the Premiership this year after spending the last few years in England’s second-tier. Having a 3-1 lead in the second half, United conceded four goals in a 20-minute span, causing the team to lose the match.
Earlier this month, Manchester United was humbled and humiliated at the hands of MK Dons, a third-tier team that decisively eliminated the Red Devils from Capital One Cup contention, winning by a score of 4-0.
The mid-season transfer window opens in January, and no doubt Louis Van Gaal’s club will be looking to acquire more talent. It is heavily rumoured that Cristiano Ronaldo, currently playing for Real Madrid in the Spanish league, would like to return to his old club and relive the glory days in Manchester. However, critics believe that United’s troubles do not lie in the midfield or up front, but rather in a defensive capacity.
In the team’s five Premier League appearances this season, not a single outing saw Manchester United play as a cohesive collection of players. On paper, United should be crushing its opposition and scoring goals at will—yet its defensive play has been a consistent vulnerability. Despite keeping a clean sheet in the team’s convincing victory against QPR on September 14, vulnerabilities on the backend were apparent.
To suggest that Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford would save the club is to deny the team’s key problem: it isn’t playing as a team. Ronaldo would be yet another star to join the troubled club, but it would not change anything unless the team can zero-in on the key reasons that see it sit in 12th place in the Premier League.
If the club is to save its season, it will need to turn things around before the mid-season transfer window opens, and it will have to do it with the players currently available.