Alex Bonner assesses the season so far for new Manchester United manager David Moyes, and asks whether there is still chance for the Scotsman to establish himself at Old Trafford.
Following Manchester United’s loss to Sunderland last Tuesday, many have begun to question the decision to appoint David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor as United manager. The Red Devils’ loss to Sunderland marked their third in a row, the first time United have suffered such a fate since 2001.
Ferguson, when commenting on his first experiences at Old Trafford, was quoted as saying: “No manager can really be prepared… it’s so different from any other club in Britain.” Ferguson went on to suggest that: “Only through success can a manager become master of his own destiny”. Moyes has had a troubled start to his Manchester United reign, meaning the 50-year-old at this stage is unlikely to have control over his managerial destiny in the way his predecessor did.
Indeed, Moyes has found replacing Ferguson a challenging task to say the lead, Ferguson’s incredible record just adding to the already enormous pressure. The legendary Scot claimed an incredible 38 trophies in just 26 years at United, including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League wins. Ferguson’s standing as a manager was also increased due to his ability to rebuild teams following periods of immeasurable success, the famous “Class of ‘92” is a clear example of this strength.
Every loss suffered by Moyes, as is to be expected for anybody in the position of Manchester United manager, has been subject to immense pressure by the media. Moyes did not receive anywhere near such scrutiny during his tenure at Everton, meaning the Scot will require a period of adjustment. Additionally, Moyes’ success at Everton has so far counted for little, his solitary piece of silverware to date with United being the Community Shield won at the season’s beginning.
Following their 2-0 win against Swansea yesterday, helping to erase the pain of the team’s 2-1 defeat to the Welsh side in the third round of the FA Cup, United currently sit nine points behind current Premier League leaders Chelsea, seventh in the table. This has to be ranked as a sub-par start to Moyes’ managerial career at United, the current title-holders.
In addition, United’s style of football of late has also been poor, with several of their recent performances, most notable against Sunderland, having been described as “laboured” by pundits. Despite this, there have been glimpses of brilliance by United this season, their 5–0 win against Bayern Leverkusen in the group stages of the Champions League a good example of this.
For this reason, time should still be given to Moyes, with the January transfer window offering a chance for him to add to his squad. This will give Moyes a chance to atone for United’s substandard performance in the last transfer window, with Marouane Fellaini the side’s only major acquisition of the summer. Indeed, many felt the acquisition of the Belgian, who lacks Champions League experience, was a poor choice.
With the January transfer window now open, this period seems like a perfect opportunity for Moyes to add much needed talent to an underperforming United squad, which needs strengthening in both defence and midfield. Attracting talent to United shouldn’t prove difficult in itself, but the January transfer window still has its pitfalls.
With the Champions League re-commencing in February, Moyes will find it tough to acquire talent from clubs also competing for European silverware, as well as United’s rivals in the Premier League. This next month will thus prove crucial for Moyes, with a failure to bring any world–class talent to the team likely to derail United’s challenge for a top four Premier League standing, the least Moyes arguably must deliver to satisfy the doubters.
Replacing Ferguson as United’s manager was always going to prove difficult for Moyes. What is important to remember, however, is that Ferguson’s success at United did not happen immediately, with the Scot given time to acquire his first trophy – Moyes thus deserves a similar period of grace to build a squad capable of competing for both domestic and European trophies.bookmark me