There are a number of parallels between what is happening in Old Trafford and across the Atlantic in the Glazers’ underperforming NFL franchise. The Glazer family owns both Manchester United as well as the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the two teams have lots in common.
They play in their game’s most-watched league. They wear red. They make enormous amounts of money. Perhaps above all, though they both have undergone several seasons of uninterrupted mediocrity because of mismanagement and a lack of a long-term strategy.
On two fronts, the Glazers face several enormous conclusions this summer, after a range of downtrodden years comprising a revolving door of coaches.
With that movement, Glazer took over a perennially awful franchise, and he immediately brought success. Based on Forbes, the group is currently worth $2.2 billion.
The Glazers’ controversial purchase of Manchester United was finished in 2005 at a $1.02bn takeover. Malcolm’s sons, Joel and Avram, took control and the club originally continued marching towards victory.
But in the years since the two takeovers, while the value has shot up, the winning has ceased.
The Buccaneers haven’t been any good since Gruden left in 2008. Manchester United, meanwhile, can say exactly the same as Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 departure.
That’s what brings us to the season, one that is vital for both teams moving forward. United continue to fall further and further behind their opponents, with long-time opponents Liverpool and Manchester City firmly perched atop the Premier League. The Red Devils’ slide to the rest of the package was frustrating, but watching their heated rivals ascend in their location has been all the more infuriating.
Now, there’s absolutely no simple contrast to that situation with the NFL, especially with a Bucs team that doesn’t have anywhere close to the prestige as their sister team in England. Bruce Arians is the most important man today, and the group’s 7-9 record was better than most expected, but still nowhere near winning a Super Bowl.
What’s more, in Old Trafford and at Tampa Bay, the ownership group must determine what to do with their most important player. Letting him go is an admission that things have not gone to plan, a confession that errors were made. Keeping him, however, could set back the team years, on and off the field.
The No.1 overall pick in 2015, Winston has been a special mixture of electrifying and bothersome. He can make all the throws and has shown himself as a pioneer, but he’s yet to find a way to limit the costly mistakes that cause losses.
His 30 interceptions were the most in the league, nine over second-place Baker Mayfield.
For every step forward, there is apparently an even sexier step back. [If] we could win with this one, we could definitely win with another one also.”
The Buccaneers have three choices. They could keep him on a yearlong franchise tag with an enormous salary cap hit and postpone the major choice. Or they could let him walk and admit it is time to rebuild.
Considering that the NFL’s salary cap, paying to maintain the quarterback would limit money available for additional places. The team’s defense was what made the Bucs aggressive last season and maintaining Winston would certainly mean letting several of these players walk. The team would then have to replace key defensive players such as Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh on considerably cheaper contracts.
If they let him go, however, they face a massive rebuild. They’d want to bring in a new quarterback and might turn into a veteran like Philip Rivers in free agency. They would also probably bring in someone young through the draft, even though it is going to be tough to find anyone rewarding with the 14th pick. The most likely scenario is to bring in a veteran to bridge the gap while the club chooses to choose a new QB in the draft this season or next.
The other is an enormous trade to move up and chase among the year’s star QBs in the draft but, once more, giving up those resources is a decision that could set the group back years. The Bucs’ big issue is they aren’t good enough to compete with the league’s best teams, but not bad enough to blow up it and completely start from scratch.
The Winston choice is a similar scenario to what United face with Paul Pogba. Occasionally, the World Cup winner looks like the best midfielder in the world, capable of making any scoring or pass from any angle. At others, he disappears by remaining quiet on the area or absent altogether as a result of the injury. Sooner or later, Ed Woodward and Co. need to make a call about what to do with Pogba, whose anticipated departure will have significant ramifications on the club.
Letting a player as talented as Pogba proceed is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, particularly given the gigantic fee the club paid to bring him back to Old Trafford. But with or without the Frenchman, it does not seem the Red Devils is going anywhere at the moment, so a gigantic transfer fee might be a fantastic place to start fresh with new faces.
And then there is coaching. The Bucs are dedicated to Arians, with a solid history of NFL success. He was fantastic with the Arizona Cardinals, setting the group as a competitor after previously seeing his standing burst after an interim stint with the Indianapolis Colts. After all, last season was a positive step forward under Arians but if this franchise’s history is anything to go by, any small sign of uncertainty could be catastrophic.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position seems to be safe. Like Arians, the Norwegian is the hottest in a revolving door of training hires and, like Arians, there were first bursts of respite from his first season in charge. But that optimism faded off. It would not be a surprise to see Manchester United move on again, continuing this seemingly endless hunt for a Ferguson successor.
Two clubs on two continents under a single ownership group are undergoing intertwining fates. A variety of decisions contributed to their successes under Glazer possession and lots of others have put them on a path towards their present situation. Both clubs face turning points this summer, and those turning points may be the difference between a positive future and also an extension of the mediocrity they find themselves in.