We have all had fun poking at Manchester United fans with their team experiencing one of their worst seasons in years. It is unusual to see them completely out of the title race and even more unusual to see them out of Europe altogether. The focal point of all the blame has been David Moyes, a manager with more experience managing a top-flight Premier League club than most of the league put together. With a world of experience, why was he doomed to fail?
Man United’s squad is awful. They were awful last season and they are awful this season. The difference was Ferguson, a manager who worked magic with a team that had no right running away with the league. Chelsea were dealing with Rafa and City struggled with fitness issues, leaving the door wide open for Ferguson to take advantage, and he did.
Is the squad really that bad? Yes, yes it is. Aside from Rooney and De Gea (possibly Mata), there isn’t a single player who would make it into Chelsea or City’s 18 man squad on a regular basis. You could argue for van Persie, but he has returned to being the fragile player we all remember from Arsenal. Rio and Vidic were a solid pair back in the day, but Rio has been an absolute joke while Vidic jumped ship a long time ago.
In short, this is a 7th place squad. Every team above Man United has superior talent.
Moyes is at fault for this but it is more the job of the technical director to make transfers happen. I have heard from reliable sources that Manchester United were overly ambitious in their transfer dealings. Their targets were Ronaldo and Bale. It is pretty easy to laugh at the thought now but there is the notion that they knew Man United needed a major signing to fix the team.
Moyes made a big mistake by bringing in one of his own players from Everton. Fellaini seems to be the runaway “worst buy of the season” and that is completely Moyes’ fault. Then came the Mata signing, a move that made no sense at all. Rather than fixing the shambles in defense or strengthening the midfield, Man United bought a player who was offloaded because of his inability to defend.
Moyes failed here, but so did the rest of the organization.
The Manager Factor
Managers can add points to a team’s point total. Last year Ferguson’s tactics probably added at least 10 points to Man Utd’s final tally. Mourinho has added at least 10 points this season with some tactical brilliance. Moyes’ time at Everton generally added 5-8 points to their tally but it seems he might have cost Man United a few points this season.
People say that he did not play with a lead a lot during his time at Everton. It’s true to a point. Moyes focused more on preserving a lead rather than extending it, but the players never came up with the goods. Maybe it was Fergie’s ability to inspire them but the “magic” that the players (and refs) came up with never happened for Moyes.
Chelsea had some really bad managers recently (Grant, Scolari, AVB) and Chelsea underperformed under those managers. Did Man United underperform? I don’t think so. They made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, they gave Bayern a battle and beat most of the teams they were supposed to in the league.
In this case, Moyes did not inspire but he did not drag them down either.
Acknowledge Fergie’s Blame
I’m a very deep admirer of Paul Pogba. Anyone that dislikes Man United should admire this kid. He is phenomenal and a real gem. Fergie let him walk away. Fergie was not perfect. He was a once in a lifetime manager but he had his faults. People need to remember that Ferguson handpicked Moyes to be his replacement. He asked fans to trust Moyes in the same way the entrusted him. If people fault Moyes then they need to fault Ferguson just as much.
Moyes was never meant to be a manager with instant success. There are your Mourinhos and Guardiolas, managers that will have you competing for everything from day 1. If Ferguson wanted that then he would have courted Mourinho more. They are really good friends. This means one of two things: Either Fergie made a mistake or Man United were impatient. Call me crazy but I believe Moyes would have been successful at Man United if he had time. People can point to Martinez’s success at Everton but Moyes never had players like Lukaku and Barry to bolster his squad.
Moyes was “The Chosen One” by Ferguson.
I had quite a few conversations yesterday with people about why Man United might sack Moyes with just a few games left in the season. Are they truly hoping to salvage a spot in the Europa League? Probably not. Are they sending a message to their supporters? Probably not. Is the ownership inept? Yeah, but that’s not why.
The only sensible reason is one of two things. They either have a manager lined up or they want managers to see that there is a vacancy in Manchester available immediately. So who are the names floating around? Van Gaal? Giggs? Capello? Guardiola? There is only one name that has caught the eyes of Man United fans and that is Jurgen Klopp, a very capable option. Will it happen? Maybe, but the Glazers felt that had nothing left to lose and Moyes was the casualty.