Manchester United are “sleepwalking” into becoming the Liverpool of the 1990s and a true fallen giant after their last trophy failure.
The Red Devils were knocked out of the FA Cup fourth round by Championship side Middlesbrough on Friday night, leaving their hopes of ending the club’s trophy drought this season hanging by a thread.
Their embarrassing penalty shoot-out defeat at Old Trafford means United’s trophy hopes now hinge entirely on the Champions League.
Anything can happen in the beautiful game, but perhaps even the most optimistic Man United fan wouldn’t think they had a chance of getting their hands on the European Cup this term after their recent performances.
Ralf Rangnick’s side were criticized for lacking motivation and drive against Boro, as a side featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane were beaten.
If United finish this season without a trophy, it will be the club’s fifth consecutive season without collecting any silverware – the first time this has happened since the 1980s.
For talkSPORT host Tony Cascarino, it all sounds very familiar.
Lifelong Liverpool fan, former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland striker Cascarino watched his beloved Reds leave a conquering side of the 70s and 80s to endure a 30-year wait for their next league title.
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And he thinks United could end up the same way unless the club find a way to stop their alarming slide.
“There are so many things you have to do right and so many challenges for a football club to be successful, and Manchester United feel like they’ve been sleepwalking for a long time,” the Weekend Sports Breakfast host said.
“It’s not just on the playing side, it’s all the different aspects of club football that you have to focus on.
“Liverpool went through a similar period in the 90s and in the 2000s, those were years without winning regularly.
“They were still fighting. They won the Champions League with Rafa Benitez and they won other trophies with other managers, Gerard Houllier won a few.
“But they weren’t the Liverpool they are now – always hard to win the league. Okay, they’re a bit short of where Man City are at the moment, but they’re in competition to win it.
“United don’t even look close to that, and sometimes it can take forever to get the right man in.
“Man United had a lot of time before Fergie, a period of stress and pain and changing managers and a conveyor belt of players coming in and out.
“Under Fergie, club football success was a challenge to win titles, and they did – the Premier League and the Champions League – the greatest honour.
“But now it feels like Man United’s success is just qualifying for the Champions League.
“If you go to Old Trafford now, it’s not the Manchester United of years past. I know people call me a dinosaur, but it’s so different.
“The game against Middlesbrough was a gossan job from the first minute. They dominated early in the game, but they paid the ultimate price for that performance.
Carlton Cole also had his say on the current state of the United squad.
The former Premier League striker claims the club shot themselves in the foot by continuing a period of stability and success under Sir Alex Ferguson with years of cutting and change at the top.
And the ex-West Ham star believes one of their biggest mistakes was sacking David Moyes after just ten months in charge.
“Sir Alex Ferguson brought a culture to the club and then whoever came next had to create his own culture so it had to be the right person,” he told the Sports Bar.
“I don’t think what happened after Fergie went well. David Moyes came along but he didn’t really have time to do what he wanted to do and turn it into his own culture. He couldn’t do it, he didn’t have time.
“But where I see it going wrong is that there have been too many changes now. They haven’t stuck to one manager and there have been a lot of complaints.
“You’re never going to get the Alex Ferguson era again, so they have to have that culture, not the same culture but a new one, and find that balance where it works for them. It’s not working for them right now.
“What motivates these players? Is this silver ? Win trophies? I can not see him.
“It’s a weird place for a team like Man United to have no motivation or passion. It’s just a weird place to see them.
“I was looking for a leader on this ground, and I didn’t see one.”
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