It was a poisoned chalice, big shoes to be filled, a job no one in all sincerity envied; the task of replacing one of the greatest managers of our time (if not the greatest), Sir Alex Ferguson. David Moyes was the “Chosen One”, the one tasked with replacing the 72 year old who just left the scene with a trophy haul of 38 in 26 ½ years.
It was accepted by most United faithful and onlookers that his first season would be one of transition with the 51 year old trying to lay his stamp on the inherited team and his signings bedding in. What was, however, not envisaged was the sorry-looking performances of the Red Devils which have even led to pity from opposition managers and fans.
Another Club (actually the only Club in the EPL) with a long serving Manager is Arsenal. They have a 3 year deal in front of Wenger whose current deal expires this summer. While there is a verbal agreement to sign, the Frenchman is yet to put his pen to paper to sign the 24 million pounds deal leading to widespread speculation that the 64 year old might quit the Emirates at the end of the season
If he signs and stays on, that would be good news (I hope) but that would only delay the inevitable. When that time comes, the Arsenal Board would no doubt be in a similar dilemma to their counterparts at Old Trafford. Arsene’s trophy count cannot in anyway be compared to that of Fergie but that does not take anything from the fact that he’s been one of the greatest if not the greatest manager Arsenal has ever appointed. Whoever replaces the Frenchman would certainly have a job on his hands.
The Board would certainly look at the ‘transition’ at Old Trafford and would be worried as to what becomes of their darling team when Wenger decides to call it quit. On a positive note, not every transition has to end in a David Moyes- like disaster and if they follow the rules below, there won’t be a case of the Gunners slipping from their customary fourth to eleventh.
- Don’t let the previous Manager choose the Successor
It is no news that Alex Ferguson single handedly picked Moyes as his successor. There is no doubt about that because no one else in his right mind would have made a decision like that. The fact Ferguson was a great manager whom we all respect does not mean he has the eye for recognizing other great managerial talent.
Such decision in my view must be made by those who understand the game off the pitch and should also be made by those who have worked across the game in the modern era. For example, David Dein chose Wenger but he never played football. There is the saying that the “best administrators or decision makers in sports are not necessarily Sportsmen”.
- Don’t rock the Boat
United allowed David Moyes to come in and work on his own terms. He was allowed to sack Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele. He dispensed with respected and very
influential coaches (Meulensteen and Robin Van Persie for example have an off the pitch bond) and replace them with his unproven Everton Staff.
This was a backroom setup that had just clinched a 20th Premier League Title so there was nothing to suggest that the boat was sinking. While I won’t rule out the fact that Moyes, just like everyone work best with those they trust, there must have however for the first season been some form of continuity which is very important as he gets used to the Club, the Players and its structure. For example, A Chairman of a successful business leaves; the incoming Chairman in his right senses shouldn’t sack all the heads of department.
Bringing in an army of staff who’ve won precisely zero in their previous role is not the best way to win over the fans and much more the players who are used to winning.
- Appoint a Proven Winner
Another mistake United made was appointing a manager whose only previous title before the Charity Shield was a second tier division title with Preston in the 1999/00 season. There’s nothing like having that winning mentality and for a club of Manchester United’s Stature, Moyes should never have been the option. Someone could bring up the argument that Pep had not won anything big as a Coach before taking on the reins at Barcelona which I agree to but on the other hand, unlike Moyes, Guardiola is a visionary and progressive Coach and even in his playing days had won lots of titles ranging from the Dream Team’s Champions League triumph in 1992 to the Olympics Bronze medal in Barcelona in the same year. He therefore knows what it means to be a winner.
Apart from the apparent lack of titles in a trophy cabinet, this is a manager who failed during his 11 year spell at Everton to beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, Highbury/Emirates, Old Trafford and Anfield respectively. With all due respect to the Scot, his style of play was also not the most attractive and made one wonder if we were watching a Football match or the Super Bowl.
With all the credentials listed above, you begin to wonder what Sir Alex was thinking of when he hand-picked Moyes and what he actually expected him to bring to the Theatre of dreams sorry nightmare.
It’s not surprising that his United Team could only beat Arsenal amongst the teams in the top eight. They were ripped apart home and away by Manchester City, Liverpool and even by his erstwhile team, Everton. A disjointed Spurs side won at Old Trafford and who knows what would have happened had Chelsea been more adventurous at Old Trafford.
Moyes was also not visionary in his style of play as it became too predictable, boring and cautious unlike the fast paced, flank attacking and intimidating side United fans were used to seeing under Sir Alex Ferguson. Against Fulham in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, his team had 81 crosses (an EPL record) but the amazing thing is that only 18 found the head of a United Player. If you are going for inexperience with eyes on a long term project, go for someone with a progressive and visionary way of playing football.
- Think of the Players
How are the players going to react to the new man? If you are replacing the greatest manager of all time, you need to bring someone who can win them over with managerial skill and vision, an incredible playing career or an incredible managerial career. You need to bring in someone the players won’t ‘roll eyes’ or raise eye brows at if he gives an instruction. David Moyes doesn’t have any of those attributes and it was always going to be a matter of time before the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Robin Van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Ryan Giggs and a few others fell out with him.
They needed to appoint someone with presence something David terribly lacks.
I don’t know the ins and outs of Moyes appointment but from what I see, it looked rushed. Fergie delivered a time bomb and the next day, Moyes was the Chosen One. It looked really rushed and ill-thought and it’s not surprising that just 348 days after, there is the hunt for the ‘Chosen One II’
Wenger is yet to say when he’ll call it quits on his trophy laden Arsenal career but I’m sure that planning now for whoever would succeed the Frenchman would lead to a seamless transition even before he starts his work.
United are in this mess because they did not think their managerial choice through. Hopefully Arsenal will learn from the mistakes they’ve made and make sure there’s a good plan in place when Arsene Wenger decides to quit and retire or becomes the Club Director.
DAVID MOYES UNWANTED RECORDS IN HIS 348 DAYS AS MANCHESTER UNITED’S BOSS
United will finish the season with their lowest ever EPL points tally
- Moyes’ side has failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 1995
- First ever home defeat to Swansea City in the FA Cup
- First home loss to Newcastle since 1972 in December 2013
- First home loss to West Brom since 1978
- Tasted three successive defeats for the first time since 2001.Liverpool(a) Man City(a) and West Brom(h)
- Eliminated in the FA Cup Third Round. This happened just once under Sir Alex Ferguson
- First time United conceded a first minute goal in the Premier League-Edin Dzeko(Man City 3-0)
- First time City and Liverpool have beaten the Red Devils home and away since Premier League’s inception(1992)
- First time Everton , Man City and Liverpool have beaten United both home and away since EPL’s inception
- First time Everton have beaten United home and away since 1969-1970
- First time the Merseyside duo of Everton and Liverpool have ever done a league double over United in the same season.
- United have won just one of their 12 meetings against the Premier League’s top eight sides this season.(Arsenal 1-0)
- City’s win at Old Trafford this season was the first time they have pulled off three consecutive away wins over the Red Devils since earning five between 1968-1972(not all Moyes’ fault)
- The 2-2 draw with Fulham in February saw United make the most crosses (81) ever seen in a Premier League fixture. Only 18, however, met the head of a Player in the Red and Black Jersey.
- Moyes home record is the worst of any United Boss since 1978 when Dave Sexton was in charge. It stands at P 16 W7 D3 L6 GF 22 GA 19.
- 8 Teams have won more home league games than United-including Crystal Palace and Stoke City.
- Unsuccessful Crosses- United at the time of writing have the highest in the English Premier League with 717; 48 more than Swansea on 669.