Manchester United start their defence of the Carabao Cup against Crystal Palace on Tuesday but there won’t be an air of celebration to mark the first trophy won by the club in six years.
United’s recent history suggests that post-Sir Alex Ferguson, their most promising seasons are quickly followed by a nosedive.
Unless the team come through the next run of six easier-looking fixtures in a strong position, there will be fears of Erik ten Hag’s team imploding, just as those managed by Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer did, costing both men their jobs only months after finishing Premier League runners-up.
There is an irony that when United fans have been allowed to feel more optimistic after decent campaigns, that’s when the trouble often begins.
In 2018, Mourinho took United to second place, their best league showing since Fergie won it. By the following December, he was gone.
Frustrated by the club’s failure to agree a price with Leicester for Harry Maguire that summer, United’s biggest purchase was £52million for Fred.
The manager started kicking off on pre-season tour, pointedly remarking: ‘One thing is what I would like. Another thing is what is going to happen.’
He was sacked in mid-December with the team 11 points off the top four.
There was similar optimism in 2021 when Solskjaer’s side finished runners-up and the arrivals of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo gave hope they could challenge for the title.
Instead, the Norwegian was perceived as weak as United’s dressing-room was split and he was fired after a 4-1 defeat against Watford in November.
He addressed the thorny matter of the signing of Ronaldo last week, saying it ‘was a decision that was very difficult to turn down and I felt we had to takeRead on m.allfootballapp.com