In less than a year in charge of Manchester United, manager David Moyes’ tenure has come to an end after he was sacked by the club’s hierarchy early on Tuesday morning. The decision was taken after an embarrassing result against none other than Moyes’ former club, Everton, as United went down 2-0 last Sunday in a derisory manner. It was a performance that we have come to see all too often this season and yet I am still of the opinion that the decision to sack Moyes was wrong. Here’s why.
Yes it has been an awful season, yes the fans have been against Moyes and yes, all confidence in him went out the window a long time ago. It paints a sorry picture when looking through some of the stats from this season. This is the first time Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton have all done the double on United during a season. United have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 19 years and therefore have finished outside of the top 4 for the first time in that same period. It is the lowest points tally United have ever accumulated during the Premier League era and to top things off they have played there way to their worst home record in the league for a decade.
BUT, and I do use a big but here. Was he really given a chance? There is no doubt that the squad is nowhere near the standards of a Manchester United team that I have come to know of during my lifetime. How SAF managed to win the league with this side last season is beyond me and hats off to him. However, Moyes was left to pick up the pieces and it seems he was given an impossible task. Gary Lineker said this week he felt that the manager to successfully take up the reins of United was not going to be the one after Ferguson but the one after the one after Ferguson. He has a fair point.
If we breakdown a few key areas from the season we might be able to throw some light upon this very dark situation United have found themselves in.
Marouane Fellaini has had an absolute shocker of a season, of that there is no doubt. I was a big admirer of Fellaini from his Everton days. I thought he was a fantastic footballer and he did the job Moyes asked of him. He also always seemed to turn up for the big games at Everton, even when asked to lead the line of a side with no natural striker. How did it all go so wrong? Even Roberto Martinez admitted to celebrating the day (July 31st) Fellaini’s £23.5 million release clause expired. Why then United waited a month later to get the transfer through is beyond me. I can’t quite determine exactly what hasn’t clicked for Fellaini this season but I for one would not be surprised if he flourished in Belgium’s midfield in Brazil this summer. Lest we forget, if United had failed in their courting of Fellaini last summer he could well have ended up at Chelsea.
In hindsight, there is a huge case for saying why didn’t Moyes, when waltzing back to Everton to partake in some summer shopping pay a similar figure, if not less, for young Ross Barkley. Young, English, dynamic, two-footed, Ross Barkley. Who of course Moyes knew all about seeing as he had been the player’s manager since the boy joined the Toffees.
All blame cannot lie with Fellaini though, however much of a flop he has turned out to be. United failed spectacularly from start to finish in the transfer market last summer as they went on a rampage around Europe being linked with star players from here there and everywhere. Ander Herrera of Bilbao, Barca’s Cesc Fabregas, now Bayern midfielder Thiago and even Cristiano Ronaldo all managed to wangle their way onto a United shortlist and they failed to get a signature of all four. If they are going to have any sort of success next season then the summer targets need to be planned and well thought out very soon. No Champions League place could prove to be a real buffer for them though.
Fingers need to be pointed at some players from this season who have been downright awful and have let Moyes down badly.
There have been cracks beginning to appear in Rio Ferdinand’s waning United career. This season just about split the wall in half. Ferdinand has been a shadow of his former self this year appearing just 11 times, less than half the appearances he made under SAF last season. He has been weak, unreliable and did no favours to ensure Moyes’ first season at the club would go smoothly.
Tom Cleverley has had a season to forget and he may well not be given another chance. It’s almost certain that he will not be on the plane to Brazil this summer and he may well even find himself on the transfer list when he returns to Carrington for preseason. His lack of presence in the midfield has been obvious, there has been little creativity for the strikers and his general input both defensively and offensively has been minimum.
When the club captain shows disinterest in where the side is heading then what chance does the manager have? Vidic agreed to join Inter a couple of months ago and it was hardly surprising but nevertheless very unprofessional from a player who was adored by the United faithful. He’s had a poor season, he evidently became disillusioned with life in Manchester and it’s no surprise that the Serbian will be moving on this summer.
I want to make it clear that I’m still adamant that Moyes was the right choice of manager for United. I think he has been dismissed too early and has not been able to fully prove himself to the board and the fans. He needed another transfer window to further add to the squad and mould it into a side he could work with. You gain nothing from sacking a coach after a year and more importantly United are not a club that should take those sort of decisions. Moyes’ win rate was 8% higher than Ferguson’s was after their first 51 games in charge and yet the difference in treatment the two received is disparate.
It was crazy to hand Moyes a 6 year contract when he first arrived at the club last year. What is wrong with giving a manager a 2 year contract and then re-evaluating in the last 3 months of the deal? It makes sense and it also lets the manager know that they can’t relax knowing that whatever happens they will end up with a fat paycheque.
I am by no means saying Moyes was blameless. He made his mistakes. You also have to accept that mistakes will be made but the key is to see if he can learn from them and improve as a manger as a result. I don’t think he froze as such but he certainly seemed to become overawed when the going got tough. It certainly didn’t make things easier when there was no one on hand like Phelan or Meulensteen to help him through those tough moments. A big mistake was letting go those key members of staff that were willing to stay on after the Ferguson era.
Ryan Giggs has been chosen to take charge for the remaining 4 games of the season and I’m sure he will do a fine job. Whether he will be a permanent choice is unlikely. In fact the only candidate that remains in the picture is Van Gaal who seems nailed on for the post when he returns home from the World Cup with Holland after Klopp, Ancelotti and Mourinho have all somewhat unsurprisingly distanced themselves from the job.
With regards to Moyes’ future I don’t think he will be out the game for long and he should get right back on the horse this summer. He could well find himself in charge of Aston Villa or Newcastle United come July and all will be forgotten. Well, nearly.