Jim Ratcliffe is in dreamland at Man United and Liverpool reality check should wake him up

Owner of Manchester United Sir Jim Ratcliffe & Avram Glazer during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England.
-Credit: (Image: Crystal Pix/MB Media/Getty Images)

Jim Ratcliffe sought to strike a measured note. He insisted that not all of the problems at Manchester United could be fixed in one transfer window, forecasting a period of 'two or three summers' before the team is in a better place — and yet he still managed to come across as though he is in dreamland.

Speaking to Bloomberg recently, Ratcliffe expanded upon his plans for Man United, with the cash-rich minority owner at Old Trafford seeking to take the fight to Liverpool and others. In fact, he skipped over the club's traditional enemy, jumping straight to Real Madrid as the team he would eventually like to emulate.

The Spanish giant is fresh off its 15th Champions League triumph. That dwarfs Liverpool's six, never mind Manchester United's three — and more importantly, the Red Devils haven't even come close in many years, only managing to qualify for the Europa League next season (and even that was through an unlikely FA Cup triumph).

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“We want to be where Real Madrid is today, but it'll take time," Ratcliffe said. That proviso is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting for him.

Liverpool has been the second most successful side in the last decade of the Premier League. That period has yielded just one league title, but three seasons with 90 points or more, as well as a Champions League triumph and a handful of domestic trophies.

It has got just about everything right in that time. Perhaps things went a little awry around the time Liverpool ascended to the very top of the game, but in the lead-up to getting there, it aced every call.

FSG appointed Jurgen Klopp. Under the guidance of Michael Edwards, transfers were spot on. Fringe players were moved on at the right time for significant sums. And even all of this has barely been enough to keep pace with Manchester City.

As for Man City, for all its dominance under Pep Guardiola, it has only once claimed the coveted Champions League trophy. These are the ridiculous levels we are talking about to get on par with Real Madrid, which has won it six times just since Man United last triumphed in 2008.

Nacho Fernandez of Real Madrid celebrates with Trophy at Santiago Bernabeu during Real Madrid UEFA Champions League Trophy Parade on June 02, 2024 in Madrid, Spain.
Real Madrid is a paragon of European excellence. -Credit:Diego Souto/Getty Images

Even three perfect transfer windows could not get Ratcliffe close to these heights. And so far, he's done nothing to inspire any kind of faith that he will deliver such perfection — a shambolic managerial search has seemingly led to keeping the man who just delivered an all-time league low finish, and the chosen one to head up the recruitment operation is still stuck on gardening leave.

Yet Ratcliffe has the temerity to take aim at the league's regulations as the great factor restraining Manchester United's success. It has comfortably outspent every other team in the division for the past decade or so, and yet he fears the proposed 'anchoring' measure (limiting all clubs to spending a certain multiplier of the lowest team's broadcast revenues) is what might prevent him from competing with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and PSG.

Liverpool has achieved far more with far less. That should be a reality check for Ratcliffe — instead of moaning about rules and a proposed new regulator, he should set about putting good practices in place. Unfortunately for him, we're talking about more than making sure the offices are tidy, and we definitely aren't including spurious clampdowns on working from home.

Almost everything he has said so far drips of faux 'high performance' lingo, with no real substance. If he continues like that, then 30 years won't be enough to catch up with Real Madrid — and he'll struggle to reel in Liverpool, too.