David Moyes failed at Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was obviously a hard act to follow. He won everything there was to win, could attract the very best players, get rid of those players and replace them with consummate ease. Sir Alex Ferguson was Manchester United.
In the final couple of seasons of the Scotsman’s reign, he was looking for instant success. Rather than build a new, young team akin to the class of ’92 with Beckham, Scholes and Giggs among others, he opted to buy proven stars like Robin Van Persie, whom without they would have come nowhere near the title in 2013. Ferguson was not focussed on the future, so what chance did Moyes have? He inherited a squad that won the Premier League by 11 points, so a 7th place finish this year looks to be a complete failure. But how well would Ferguson have done this season without 30 goals from Van Persie? With the same players, they may have got into the Champions League, they certainly would not have won the title. However, Moyes failed in any attempt to attract the world class players that United fans have seen at Old Trafford for the past 25 years, where other more world renowned managers would have had more success. Mata is an exceptional player, but not what they needed, and not really the sort of player people associate with Manchester United. Kagawa was already at the club, not being played, and very similar to Mata. He was a panic buy. Moyes first made the mistake of removing much of the backroom staff that had made United so dominant, replacing them with his own team. Then failed to bring in his own players, to supplement the current squad.
So this mythical image of Manchester United as a club that looks after their employees and gives their managers time to settle in and adapt is, like everyone other than United fans knew, absolute rubbish. They gave the most successful manager ever, Ferguson, time to settle in , but in a completely different time, when the loss of football matches did not mean losing millions and millions of pounds in sponsorship, TV revenue and on the stock exchange. It should have been clear to everyone that after Moyes failed to make a significant signing before the season started, he would be out the door before it ended. The unprofessional manner in which he was dismissed was laughable. An employee of any organisation should not be sacked before he or she has actually been told, particularly in a role at the forefront of media scrutiny. The Glazer’s have said that they had not made a decision on the Monday afternoon as to his future, when anyone with internet access had heard news of Moyes’ imminent departure. The point is, the news must have been leaked somehow, and for Moyes to find out in that way is an absolute disgrace.
Maybe The Glazer’s should not have taken Ferguson’s word that Moyes was ‘The Chosen One’ as gospel in the first place. This was the only situation where the previous manager could actually pick his replacement. There was no interview process. Ferguson said Moyes was the one, and that was it. Ridiculous. What exactly did Ferguson know about Moyes’ ability as a manager anyway? Other than presumably sharing a few ideas over a glass of wine after a game and seeing the teams Moyes put together, not a lot. You might say there is no-one better to find a replacement than the man who is being replaced and Ferguson wanted the best for his club, but surely broadening the search couldn’t do any harm. The argument against Mourinho at Manchester United was that he would not stay for an extended period. Now, whilst Mourinho has said he wants to create a long term revolution at Chelsea, the United board sack their Ferguson replacement David Moyes after 8 months, hardly an extended period in anyones eyes. I wonder if now, faced with Van Gaal as seemingly the only available, experienced option, the United board are rueing their failure to approach Mourinho, Guardiola or Ancelotti before they joined their current teams, all of whom are Champions League semi-finalists.
Van Gaal is a viable option to be the new coach of Manchester United, but he would be a weak appointment. What United need to do now is prove to World football that they are still a genuine force to be reckoned with. They will do this by attracting a great manager, who can attract great players. Van Gaal is the default option. He is available to manage after the World Cup. If he does not take the helm at United, he will surely replace Sherwood if he is dismissed (wrongly) at Spurs. A club as big as Manchester United should not settle for a manager, just because he is ‘available’. Jürgen Klopp has apparently ruled himself out, but he is bound to say that to the German press, with whom he has a great relationship, rather than risk losing support by showing any interest in the vacant position. Similarly big clubs, like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich do not wait for managers to become available, they go and get them. United should go and get Klopp.
This is not to say the Van Gaal is a bad coach. He has won titles wherever he has been and is well respected in the game. His age (62) and the fact he has been out of club management for the last 3 years are reasons to be wary. The stress and strain of managing a club side far outweigh those of International management, and replacing the most successful manager of the biggest club side in England is surely the hardest job in football, one that too big for David Moyes.
United fans will be pleased with the interim appointment of Ryan Giggs, bringing in other members of the class of ’92 to assist, but this surely cannot be considered as a long term option. I would question the ability of Giggs, such a quiet, well mannered individual to control the more senior players in the dressing room. The manager of such a big club should unquestionably be in full control.
Who was to blame for the poor form of United this season and the sacking of Moyes? He was not given the time he was promised at United, and for that reason the board failed him. Ferguson left Moyes in the lurch, leaving him with an ageing squad. But in the end it was the inability of Moyes himself to attract the marquee signings that ultimately cost him his job. Something the incoming manager will have to rectify.