Nothing in life is guaranteed. When Luke Shaw signed for Manchester United in summer 2014, by the newly appointed manager Louis Van Gaal, the club assumed it had purchased the best money could buy. The deal followed Shaw’s surprise inclusion in the England World Cup squad in preference to Ashley Cole, one of country’s finest left-back’s in the English game. Shaw’s 57 appearances for Southampton, some under Mauricio Pochettino, demonstrated enough potential to persuade United to spend £27 million on the left-back, making the 19-year-old the most expensive teenager in world football. It hasn’t worked out as hoped.
Financially, Manchester United is the world’s élite club. A summary of finances for 2016-17 shows revenues totalling £581 million; larger than Real Madrid or Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain or Manchester City. Despite huge investments in terms of player recruitment, contracts and signing on fees, a profit of near £40 million was also achieved. Meanwhile, the projected revenue for the current financial year is guided to reach £575 to £585 million. Noisy neighbours Manchester City may have the backing of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth, but it is United that still leads the way on commercialisation.
To bastardise a phrase, Mourinho was the future once. As a New Year dawns, it is natural to reflect on successes, failure and hopes of the year past and for the one ahead. It is an unfortunate time to analyse José Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford, as his lethargic side has stumbled through the festive fixture list with three successive, disappointing draws. This leaves Mourinho’s pre-season title hopefuls staring nervously at top four rivals and not up at the near flawless neighbours. After a season and a half as Manchester United manager, questions remain about Mourinho’s performance, and his future.