I’ve never understood non-United football fans’ obsession with the Red Devils; I certainly could never imagine obsessing over another team so much. Surely this only means that people aren’t getting enough satisfaction from supporting their own clubs? Perhaps it is unsurprising considering United are the most successful team in English footballing history. Perhaps I haven’t quite grasped the magnitude of Manchester United’s status. David Moyes certainly hadn’t either.
United’s problems have been overly documented right from the start of the season, begging the question: did Moyes stand any realistic chance of succeeding? Clearly, far too much changed too quickly in the United hierarchy last summer. How can the departure of the manager, chief executive and backroom staff possibly have constituted the ‘stability’ and ‘continuity’ that Moyes’ appointment was supposed to embody?
Further, the differences between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes far outweigh the similarities. This was known, but underestimated at the start of the season. Whilst Moyes had a successful tenure at Everton, something that seems to have been quickly forgotten, Ferguson had a much better track record. More importantly, Ferguson’s insatiable appetite and expectation to win every game is a far cry from Moyes’ ‘let’s not lose’ approach. United’s stagnant season has been exposed further by the strengthening of City and Chelsea, but most impressively by the huge improvements and impressive attacking style of Liverpool and Everton.
Whilst it’s a minority view, I feel sorry for Moyes. He was not intentionally poor, and it’s not his fault that he was out of his depth. Having said that, some performances have been unimaginably bad, and a 7th place finish is about as bad as it realistically could be. The majority of the blame for this must stop at the manager, yet the players must also look at themselves. You’d be hard pressed to find a player who has consistently performed at their peak this season.
While there are many negatives to dwell on after a desperate season, there is reason for optimism in the near future. Barring the importance surrounding the appointment of the next United manager – the Glazers HAVE to get it right this time – the squad is in no way near as bad a shape as has been portrayed. As has been mentioned time and again, the same squad won the league by 11 points, rarely getting out of the third gear in the process. A lack of confidence, combined with debilitating tactics, has severely undermined players such as Kagawa, whilst others like Cleverley have stagnated. However when the conundrum of how to play Rooney, Van Persie, Mata et al together has been solved, it will be a force to be reckoned with, provided they are all at Old Trafford next year.
Additionally, a team of young players is in place, who on their day is more than good enough. The problem this year is that ‘their day’ has been rare to say the least. De Gea, after much derision, has developed into one of the league’s outstanding keepers, whereas Jones at centre-back is a potential future England captain. Additionally, Evans and Smalling are solid, but have a tendency to go missing. Another of the season’s positives is the development of Adnan Januzaj.
However, there is clearly crucial work to be done. Now is the time to finally get rid of the old guard. With Vidic leaving, Ferdinand and Giggs (as a player) must move on. Furthermore, the backlog of persistent deadwood hanging around Carrington needs to be removed ASAP. Primarily Young and Anderson, but there are several other candidates; Nani’s status in ‘the last chance saloon’ is as comical as it is farcical.
Whoever takes the reigns needs to get rid of any player who does not want to be there. With the club at a crossroads it is time for the players to stand up and be counted, anyone unwilling or unable needs to leave. No player is ever bigger than the club they play for and United more than others have been forced to confront this issue several times before: Beckham, Keane, van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo immediately spring to mind.
Despite the tidal wave of speculation and rumour we will never quite know what went wrong and when, which signings were missed and which players orchestrated the revolts. A lesser man than Moyes would reveal all, however despite the circus, he still has his dignity intact. The sacking seems to be of benefit for all. Moyes walks away with around £5 million, roughly £100,000 per abject performance, and United have a second chance to try and replace the irreplaceable.
Image courtesy of The Red Devil