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Two superpowers in disarray – so why is only one doing anything about it?

Are Man United the new banter club? They might just be

It speaks volumes that the last three contract extensions handed out at Man United landed on the laps of Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

United are steadily becoming a parody of themselves, promoting mediocrity while their rivals increase the gap between them.

And the worry for their fans is there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

The wheels have come off

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The wheels have come off

If you asked any football fan to name the two most disappointing club campaigns in Europe last season, chances are they’d say United and Real Madrid.

But only one of them is flexing their financial muscles to really do anything about it.

United’s season finished over a month ago with no Champions League football guaranteed for next season and no trophies in sight.

But asides the quietly impressive acquisition of Daniel James from Swansea, nobody else has come through the door.

Doom and gloom

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Doom and gloom

Compare the work Real are doing and it’s enough for United fans to spontaneously combust.

For the first time since 2014 Los Blancos have made real statements in the transfer market to set pulses racing around Europe.

Eden Hazard’s move was football’s worst kept secret, but the signing of Luka Jovic from under the noses of Barcelona and Bayern Munich is just as much of a coup.

Galactico

EPA
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Galactico

Neither of them are Cristiano Ronaldo, but between them they can certainly begin to help Real move on in the post-CR7 era.

Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Rodrygo have taken their spending past the £270m mark – and it’s not even July yet. Talk about moving fast.

United supporters can only dream of such ruthlessness while Ed Woodward and his band of merry men twiddle their thumbs.

£54m worth of striker

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£54m worth of striker

The Red Devils, despite their doom and gloom, remain one of the biggest institutions in sport with bottomless pockets and blank cheques lying in wait.

But their inactivity so far this summer reeks of once bitten, twice shy; a reluctance to spend big after damaging recent forays.

Alexis Sanchez has been a disaster while Fred didn’t look anything like a £50m midfielder last season, overshadowed by the likes of Scott McTominay in the final few months.

Wan-Bissaka would be a brilliant addition

Reuters
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Wan-Bissaka would be a brilliant addition

Woodward and co. look scared to make the same mistakes again, even with the right personnel fluttering their eye lashes at them.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has to be a priority after his stunning debut campaign, yet the powers that be are stalling over Crystal Palace’s valuation of him.

Just pay it – Real would – and you’ve got a right-back for the next decade through the door before pre-season has even started.

Should he stay or should he go?

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Should he stay or should he go?

Unlike Arsenal, United still have the financial brawn to go after the big names, just as they did with Paul Pogba the last time they finished outside the top four.

But their hesitation is evidence of their insecurities from top to bottom right now, particularly with Pogba himself flirting with the idea of pastures new.

The best remedy their fanbase could have hoped for at the end of that dire campaign was a settled squad boosted by some exciting new faces well before pre-season really kicked in.

Instead, five weeks on, they’re barely got out of first gear.