Two of the biggest talking points in English football this season have been the respective form of both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The two sides appear to have lost control, and results on the pitch have got worse and worse. Both United and Spurs are struggling, but which team’s crisis is actually the deepest?
Let’s take a look…
Given United’s tough period has been going on for a lot longer than Spurs’, it should come as no surprise to hear that the Red Devils’ squad isn’t up to scratch anymore.
United ended last season with a weak squad and only hurt themselves even more by refusing to replace Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in attack. Too many players are simply not good enough to play for a club with United’s global stature.
Fortunately, Spurs have the edge here. With the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min and Toby Alderweireld in their ranks, Spurs have the talent to play their way out of this hole. Having said that, the unhappiness of their players is a real problem, but their talent can still shine through.
United are blessed with two things: popularity and money. The Red Devils can afford to sign almost any player in the world, and they have the allure to convince most of them to sign, regardless of their struggles.
They appear prepared to spend heavily to try and bring this crisis to an end, which might be exactly what is needed. However, the same cannot be said for Spurs.
They have made their name by buying small and developing youngsters, but that needs to end soon. Too many of their prize assets, including Eriksen and Alderweireld, look set to walk away for free, and replacing them would cost astronomical figures. Will Spurs pay that? Who knows.
Spurs fans might criticise owner Daniel Levy for his lack of heavy spending, but they can’t deny that he is a tough businessman who knows how to achieve results without too much financial investment. He may need to start spending soon, but it looks like Levy will know what he’s doing when he does eventually bite the bullet. Oh, and they just spent £1bn on a new stadium.
As many United fans will tell you, the same cannot be said for the Glazer family and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. For too long, the group’s answer has been to throw money around without any real planning and just see what happens, and things have started to unravel.
Transfer dealings and managerial appointments have come under fire, and deservedly so. The United chiefs have struggled to find the answer to their problems over the last few seasons, which is real cause for concern.
Spurs’ crisis has come as a real shock to many. Manager Mauricio Pochettino is widely regarded as one of the finest around, so the fact that even he can’t turn things around speaks volumes of their struggles.
He might have failed to lift a trophy thus far, but Pochettino does have a long history of impressive results and ‘nearly’ moments. What does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have?
Aside from initial popularity, Solskjaer brought very little to United. The man who was relegated with Cardiff City has struggled to justify why United were so committed to him, and there’s almost no evidence which suggests he is capable of steadying the ship.
Comparing the performances of these teams is really challenging. They have both been atrocious, and neither deserves to be seen as a winner of this category.
This season, Spurs’ results have been notably worse. The 7-2 mauling against Bayern Munich, the humiliating loss to Colchester United and the recent 3-0 loss to Brighton were all catastrophic, and they all suggest that Spurs are facing a major crisis.
As for United, they are unbeaten in cup competitions and have avoided any major humiliation this season, but they have been far from impressive. They are supposed to be dominant, but they have lost games without even putting up a fight. On paper, performances haven’t looked as bad, but that’s not saying much here.
One of the most concerns parts of United’s collapse is the fan unrest. Many supporters have long been furious at what is going on, whilst others have simply accepted that United are no longer a great team.
Things have been going wrong for so long that many fans are at their wits’ end. There are calls for the manager, players and owners to all leave, and the mood around Old Trafford is about as toxic as it has ever been.
As for Spurs, their fans appear to be paralysed in shock. They don’t understand what’s going on and why this is all happening, but things are yet to get ugly in the stands. Many are furious, but Spurs are yet to experience the kind of extended fury which United have been forced to deal with.
You get the sense that, if one of these teams were to snap out of their struggles tomorrow, it would likely be Spurs.
Pochettino’s side have the quality and the leadership to wake up from this nightmare, whereas United look to be lost at sea. The Red Devils have endured too many chaotic years, and it is becoming ever clearer that they simply don’t know what to do anymore.
United seemingly can’t figure out a way to play their way out of trouble, whilst the board have proven that they can’t buy a solution either. Almost everything has gone wrong at Old Trafford, so it looks like their crisis is the worst.
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