Manchester United may have won the FA Cup but the shambolic sacking of Louis van Gaal confirms the club has lost its class.
Sir Alex Ferguson took 27 years creating and protecting a legacy worthy of the Red Devils’ rich history.
Under the Scot, United’s identity was built on loyalty, respect and tradition.
LVG was afforded none of that as news of his axe hit the headlines while he was lifting silverware at Wembley.
Sir Alex’s Manchester United had everything – attacking football, discipline, role models, a British backbone and a never-say-die attitude that proved the difference on countless occasions.
Fergie time was the joke – the “Fergie effect” was the reality. Everyone knows the Class of 1992 and no one forgets the Nou Camp 1999.
But within three years of his retirement in 2013, those he left behind have destroyed every pillar of his blueprint, blinded by their desperate quest for success.
A jealous generation may feel it is high time that a set of fans raised on glory had some time in the doldrums but it is still a shame to see the once-great club floundering in such a manner.
United now fire managers on a routine basis and throw cash around like it’s going out of fashion.
Basically, they are just like every other Premier League club.
The 1990s and 2000s saw Red Devils fans chastised for being “glory hunters” or not being from Manchester.
But really it was just annoying that, when a United fan acted like their club was up on a pedestal, they actually had a point.
It was not just the trophies or the fact their unit of homegrown stars fuelled the national team for a generation.
It was also how in tune the club was with its roots and how their history still shaped its future.
Bobby Charlton has the best seat in the house at Old Trafford, Matt Busby has a statue outside and Ferguson himself has a stand and a road named after him at the ground.
The Great Scot may have left United with one of his least exciting squads but do not forget he still signed off with the league title.
He had shown the way and the path was clear – it was having faith in young British talent, it was sticking by your manager and it was a winning mentality that money cannot buy.
Above all, his players believed in everything the club stood for. Every kid wanted to play for Manchester United and those who did were forever proud to do so.
The Red Devils had a working recipe for long-term success and adulation. They did not need trophies to win people over, they already had the planet’s biggest fanbase. They did not need to buy the world’s biggest stars, they created them.
Ferguson would never have spent £59.7million on Angel Di Maria, he would never have wanted David Moyes fired after less than a season and would never have paid Wayne Rooney £300,000 a week.
No player was bigger than the club and, if you threatened to leave, you left.
And now, if Jose Mourinho does replace Van Gaal, the transformation will be complete, world-renowned winners to billionaires’ circus.
The Portuguese is a fantastic coach, nobody is arguing that, but from his eye-gouging antics at Real Madrid to firing Chelsea’s doctor last season, he courts controversy and revels in it.
LVG’s style of football may have been found wanting and by all accounts he struggled to keep hold of the dressing room.
But as one of football’s elder statesmen, who has had success all over Europe, the 64-year-old behaved with honour until the end.
He did not deserve to be hung out to dry for months on end or thrown to the media wolves with no support. Yet even as he lifted the FA Cup, the whispers of his departure drowned out the cheers.
To executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, the trophy may feel like the first step to back to the top. To the rest of us, the club we all had to watch winning title after title has gone.
United have fired managers and spent a fortune in a desperate bid to protect their winning reputation – the ultimate irony is they have destroyed it in the process.
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