For Sir Alex Ferguson and the rest of the world, David Moyes was “The Chosen One”. For the Manchester United players, the former Everton manager was never the right one. These are players who have won trophies season after season under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, and here was a manager, who despite his commendable work on a tight budget at Goodison, hadn’t won as much as an egg cup. Although the senior pros publicly backed David Moyes after Sir Alex handpicked his successor, the scenes were quite contrasting behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
Their utter disregard for their manager was startling, and many would call it unprofessional. In January when Moyes took his team to Dubai on a week long warm weather training break, he allowed them a night out. Some players rewarded him by returning in the wee hours of the morning, waking other guests. A player Moyes never got along with is Shinji Kagawa. Kagawa is said to have arrived very late for the flight to Munich, and had to be fast tracked through security with a smirk on his face. Take the Nemanja Vidic situation for example. Would the announcement of the club’s skipper deserting the club during the most important of seasons in recent times have come out in the open in Sir Alex Ferguson’s time? Would Rio Ferdinand dare to speak to the press regarding Moyes’ decision to announce his team on the match day itself? Or would Van Persie lash out at his teammates openly after the most shocking European performance from United for a while, in Athens?
The fact is David Moyes failed to assert his authority at a time when the situation demanded it the most. Moyes failed to put himself about, and instead gave the impression of a lame-duck manager for whom United was too big a mountain to scale. Moyes’ craggy features formed a haunted expression – he had the miserable look of a man confused and clueless in the situation he found himself in – lacking ideas, lacking belief and more importantly lacking the courage to stamp his authority on the team. His comments about suffering more blows along the way after United slumped to a 4-1 defeat at the Etihad wouldn’t go down too well with many players – particularly if these are the same group of players who were lifting the title back in May last year. David Moyes seemed out of his depth at United, and even though you felt like he was giving everything he had to the job that meant the world to him, it was never quite enough. Maybe he was never quite a Manchester United manager anyway. His press conferences and interviews reeked of fear, bewilderment and desperation – his demeanour reeked of confusion and well, CONFUSION.
Yes, David Moyes had everything to repair after he inherited a horribly lopsided squad which only the great Sir Alex could lead to the title. He was barely anybody’s first choice to fill the great man’s shoes, and had everything to prove. He had to sort out the Wayne Rooney saga with a certain Jose Mourinho in hot pursuit of the England star. And to add to his problems, he had a novice Chief Executive who succeeded in messing up transfer deals much like Moyes messed up his team selection, time and again. United could have done without the embarrassing Cesc Fabregas saga and the Herrera goof-up in the dying moments. Having said that, United could have done without this season as a whole. There have been a few positives along the way. United’s away form is a testament to Moyes’ ability to set up a team not to lose, than to take the game to the opposition. Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata will be long-term successes at the club, while Wayne Rooney’s contract extension, more as a token of appreciation for the fans in a troubled campaign, secures the England man’s future at the club.
But truth be told, Moyes has given United fans, and maybe the United board, very little to be positive about the following season. He has broken more records in a few months than Sebastian Vettel has in Formula 1 – each of which succeeded in undoung all the good work of 25 years in just 11 months! Moyes displayed the tentative demeanour of a mafia rat forever looking over his shoulder in the fear that his cover well be blown. The performances became more stale with the day. For United fans, there was no bigger reason to stand by David Moyes than the fact that he was indeed chosen by Sir Alex as the right man to take the club forward, although Moyes never took kindly to the term “The Chosen One” because he felt it gave the impression that he was selected for the job, and not earned it on merit. Yet, the nature in which United stumbled throughout the course of the season forced even the most loyal of Moyes supporters to rethink. Something just didn’t feel right. The players weren’t performing for the manager. Moyes never seemed to be have the backing of the dressing room, even though the #InMoyesWeTrust hashtag began to gain leverage on twitter. It is not a manager alone who can take world-class footballers and turn them into Sunday league pub players. The players never took responsibility. Never throughout United’s worst campaign for quarter of a century.
The players didn’t take too kindly to David Moyes’ training methods. Sir Alex’s training sesssions involved working on passing, technique, movement and attacking. Moyes chose to shift focus to hard work and discipline. The players, much like Moyes, have to shoulder the blame. No matter what methods are employed in practice, no matter how much your diet changes, no matter what the manager chooses to stress in training, you do not lose the ability to pass the ball or pick a man or shoot on goal, unless you are Fernando Torres – Jesus Christ, what happened to that lad? Putting in an earnest shift for the manager has worked so wonderfully well at Crystal Palace, with Tony Pulis orchestrating European form at Selhurst Park, or take Anfield for example. Liverpool aren’t exactly the best squad on paper, yet the players have complete faith in the manager’s philosophy and are totally committed to the team’s cause. The seventh placed side from last season have progressed in leaps and bounds to reach the summit of the Premier League, the Champions of last season represent a club still reeling from the after-effects of the past few months and looking to start afresh after the disaster of a campaign.
Moyes looked incredibly fragile for a man who was replacing the greatest of them all. When Sir Alex Ferguson suspected team news leaks couple of seasons back, he began to confiscate mobile phones on match day. Moyes just turned a blind eye, much like he did to most things. He could not stem the flow of problems – on field or off it, and if an impression is forming here of a squad of renegades running riot around Carrington, Moyes, it must be conceded, did not do himself any favors either. For a manager with 15 years of experience under his belt, the 50-year-old looked astonishingly naive and remarkably overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task he had at hand. Moyes looked more like someone trained to drive a Fiat, but handed a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. Even those in the Moyes camp would probably breath a sigh of relief that the misery is over. The only remotely positive emotion that survived in all this was sympathy – an honest intentioned soul trying to do his very best.
David Moyes SHOULD have been given time, but looks like that’s not how thing works in the turn-on, log-in, boot-up generation we find ourselves in. Even if the club in question is Manchester United. Anyway, whoever the next manager is, United board should make sure that he has the top-level experience to manage a club like Manchester United. “Carefully Choose The Next One”