Man Utd decline studied by Toto Wolff as Mercedes F1 chief sought to understand why 'great teams' eventually fail

Ronaldo-Wolff Getty Images

Mercedes Formula One chief Toto Wolff has revealed that he has studied Manchester United's recent slump to learn why some "great teams" are not able to sustain their success. Until the last decade, United had dominated the Premier League era, securing 13 top-flight titles between 1992 and 2013.

United have failed to add to that haul since Sir Alex Ferguson's final season in charge, however, and they currently seem further than ever from ending the drought.

After narrowly clinching sixth spot on the final day of last season, The Red Devils have lost their opening two games of 2022-23 to Brighton and Brentford under new manager Erik ten Hag.

What has Wolff said about studying Man Utd's decline?

"I studied why great teams were not able to repeat great title [runs]," Wolff told the Financial Times, referencing United's record under Ferguson.

"No sports team in any sport has ever won eight consecutive World Championship titles and there are many reasons for that, and what is at the core is the human. The human gets complacent. You are not energised in the same way you were before. You are maybe not as ambitious.

"I often get the question: 'How hard is that?' "I had so many periods, so many episodes in my life that I would judge as difficult, that this is not on the same scale.

"I don't think it's challenging in a way because I've had much harder times in all of my life, not particularly in Formula One, but this is actually within my comfort zone."

He added: "In a way we are control freaks. Sometimes I feel like a football coach: There's a point where there's nothing more you can do and you have to leave it to the players on the pitch to get the job done. That's why when you're there you have those reactions. Sometimes you need to push the pressure release valve."

Have Man Utd come close to winning the title since Ferguson's exit?

United have finished second in the Premier League twice since they last won a top-flight title in 2012-13.

In 2017-18 they finished 19 points behind rivals Manchester City, a feat which then-manager Jose Mourinho has described as one of the biggest achievements of his career.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also guided United to second in 2020-21, though again they finished well adrift of City, who won the league by 12 points.

The Red Devils have only finished in the top four on four occasions in the last nine years, and have not won a single piece of major silverware since their Europa League triumph under Mourinho in 2017.