Monday, 21 October 2013

Fans need to give David Moyes a lot more time before rolling the criticism his way

The reason Manchester United were so successful under Sir Alex Ferguson is because everybody at the club were – quite literally – united. 

Sir Alex Ferguson made sure that everybody at the club – be it his hand-picked backroom staff or the extravagantly paid players he put out on the pitch – toed the line with regards to what was expected and shared the same vision that Sir Alex had – to be the best on the pitch. 

And that is the first thing David Moyes will need to manage at Old Trafford, a sentiment that Sir Alex himself has echoed, speaking to the press at the 100th UEFA Coach Education Workshop in Budapest: “You all have to be singing the same tune, no matter how bad the tune is,” he said. “It’s important that your people agree with you and the way that we at United wanted to play, that was very important. “Three things are very important when you are working with them – work ethic, loyalty, philosophy,” he added.

And it is these three elements that David Moyes will need to solve. One of the greatest features of Sir Alex was that his understanding and knowledge of the game constantly kept pace with the times and this was why he will forever be one of the world’s best managers. 

All of the players currently at United (Marouane Fellaini aside) have been brought in by Sir Alex and they would have been looking forward to playing with the man who made Manchester United the side they are today. To them, his retirement would have surely come as a shock. 

United’s world-class clutch of players will therefore at least privately question whether David Moyes can reach the same heights that Sir Alex can. It is a task some of the best in the world will surely struggle with, but given that Moyes has been handpicked by Sir Alex, it would surely mean that given time, he could very well be the man who succeeds the legendary Scotsman.

“I think that the more difficult you make the challenge of being a top coach, well that’s a challenge that any coach should take because if you’re successful that way then you’ll be successful anyway,” said Sir Alex, throwing more light on his philosophy of coaching. 

The United Way: Ferguson and Moyes are cut from the same cloth

At United, Sir Alex only brought in players he knew could take the tough love. A quick look at United’s Premier League squad would show a greater number of Britons than their competitors and despite some of these players being very ordinary, the reason they are in the squad is because of their attitude. Players who thought they were bigger than the club were immediately let go of, irrespective of where they came from. 

And despite some results not going the way of the new United boss, he has handled his team admirably off it. The Wayne Rooney saga which resurfaced soon after Sir Alex had announced his decision to retire was dealt with in a very efficient manner by Moyes, who said that Rooney would have to be content with a squad role at United if he was not happy with the way things were run.

At no point in time did Moyes bow to pressure, at no point in time did he show the strain he was under, and at no point in time did he let the overzealous scrutiny of the media get to him. Sir Alex Ferguson’s response to calm him down was to give him a much-improved contract. Moyes went one step better and left the striker with an ultimatum, and that is surely a sign of things to come from a manager who is already extremely well versed with the Premier League. 


The average British footballer may not have the skills and trickery of his counterpart from South America, but they show a resilience and team spirit that every footballer should aspire to achieve. 

Fergie’s players needed to be mentally strong in order to absorb the full message of his much-publicised halftime hair dryers, which essentially boiled down to one aspect: self-belief.

“My attitude to a game of football — never give in,” said the Scot. 

“At half time in a game of football, if you’re behind, never give in,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s about inspiring to make players better than they are and the best that they could have been. On the football field, it’s generally a player with character who wins the match.” 

Last season, two games that were vital to United’s title tilt saw the Red Devils come back from conceding the lead to winning them in dramatic fashion. Against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and Newcastle United at Old Trafford, Sir Alex’s team came back on four separate occasions to come away with a result of the spoils when another team might have capitulated early. 

Time is of the essence

And United fans have every reason to be worried about not immediately earning the same results under Moyes because simply put, he currently does not have the charisma that Ferguson has. Give him time, however, and he will learn how to get the best out of his new team.

But that does not mean that the #MoyesOut campaign which began in jest this summer takes a more sinister, more serious turn just because results are not entirely going the way of the new manager, because he has a stellar previous record to go on. 

At Everton, he took over an ailing side that were on the verge of relegation under his predecessor Walter Smith and worked without complaint to make the Toffees one of the Premier League’s most respected outfits. In the last seven seasons Moyes spent at Goodison Park, never were his team below eighth place and on two occasions, his team finish fifth, earned themselves a much sought-after European spot. His crowning glory, surely would be getting his team to the Champions League, an achievement that was lauded as miraculous by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, writes Phil McNulty of the BBC.

Becoming the first Champions League side to get a point away at Shakhtar Donetsk is no mean feat and that only adds to the excellent way in which United saw off Bayer Leverkusen on what was Moyes’ European debut at Old Trafford. Sir Alex knew that any manager who was to manage United would first have to come to grips with the dogged nature of the Premier League: a quick glance over at Eastlands where the more experienced Manuel Pellegrini has gotten off to a start that more or less mirrors the one at United.

Football is increasingly becoming a results business, and any criticism of Moyes that comes now is extremely early. Give him time to stamp his methodology on the squad: the reason he brought in his own coaching staff and signed Fellaini was for exactly that reason. 

To judge him after only ten games is therefore far too premature. Sir Alex after all did take five years to deliver his first trophy at Old Trafford.

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