As March rolls around, it has now been 8 months to the day since David Moyes took the reigns at Old Trafford. However, given how events have transpired in the intervening period, he must surely be ever more grateful for Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to anoint him as ‘The Chosen One’. Initially, fans and journalists alike acknowledged his appointment as a long-overdue opportunity for a manager who proved his Premier League pedigree during an eleven year spell at Everton, to show his class at Manchester United.
What we have seen since, has seen last season’s Premier League champions suffer what can only be described as a complete and utter capitulation.
Having been left with the Wayne Rooney situation to deal with upon his arrival, Moyes and United embarked on a pre-season filled with speculation on potential transfer targets. Not only had the manager of 26 years left his post, but he was also followed out the door by a particularly underrated figure within the club, in David Gill. As the transfer window came and went, United ultimately ended up paying over the odds for sole capture Marouane Fellaini, and being led down the garden path by both Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas in the quest to strengthen the severely undermanned central midfield department. United fans, in the main, put this down to Ed Woodward’s naivety in the transfer market having only taken up his new role as chief executive. Moyes then knew what he had at his disposal, but the results since have been particularly shocking.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming though. United’s first home game of the season saw a tedious 0-0 against Chelsea, one that was there for the taking. In a way that has summed up our home form this season, at least in the league; with defeats to West Brom, Everton, Newcastle and Tottenham thus far. Following September’s derby demolition at the hands of City, Moyes warned us to expect worse to come before things improved, but nobody anticipated just how much worse things would get. November’s all-action performance and victory at home to then league leaders, Arsenal, left us only five points adrift and gave fans a new-found hope that maybe things were starting to come together. The international break that followed seemingly halted the momentum from that victory, with the concession of an injury time equaliser at Cardiff setting the tone for how things have gone since.
With results having not been of the standard expected, one would hope that the style of football would in some way compensate for that. Herein lies one of my biggest disappointments with the Moyes era thus far. The football played by United, with very few exceptions, has been mundane at best. Yes, Moyes is a conservative manager by nature, but with the squad he inherited and has since added to, I know I’m not alone in finding it unacceptable for a Manchester United manager to employ such archaic and outdated tactics. The en vogue formation of the top coaches around Europe seems to be 4-2-3-1, and instead United mainly have persisted with a flat 4-4-2 that provides very little variation and fluidity. It is no coincidence that one of our few good performances came away to Villa in December, when it was more or less 4-3-3 throughout. Point being, we have been far too predictable and easy to play against. That is the domain of the manager, and for someone like Moyes who likes to take a hands-on approach in training, clearly that is his responsibility.
Perhaps the rigidity with which we have played this season was best seen in the 2-2 home draw with Fulham in February, where 81 crosses came and went without leading directly to a United goal. Results are one thing, and of course it’s impossible to win every game, but they can be forgiven in-part when fans see signs of improvement and are entertained by the style of football on show. That simply has not been the case, with too many games drifting by without much in the way of incident. For me at least, this was the game when the tide truly began to turn against Moyes. What has happened since has only further undermined his position and eroded fan support, to the point where it has been reported that he has been given until the end of the season to prove he is the right man going forward. Make no mistake, the squad has needed rebuilding for some time, probably since the summer of 2009.
However there have also been positives, despite all the negativity. Adnan Januzaj has emerged as one of the brightest young talents in the game! Would he have been given that chance under Sir Alex? Ask Paul Pogba’s opinion on that one. For any misgivings amongst fans, Wayne Rooney has also committed his future to the club and returned to close to his best. If you listen to those in the know, Moyes has completely overhauled the club’s scouting system and plans to do likewise with the youth set-up; all signs of long-term planning. Whether he will be given the opportunity to see his vision come to fruition is another matter entirely.
For all the shock results throughout the season, nothing has even come close to how embarrassing United’s performance was against Olympiakos this past week. The lack of pride and passion in wearing on display was symptomatic of a group of players lacking belief in their manager and his methods. With games against Liverpool and City in the league, and the second leg against Olympiakos all in the space of nine days this month; there could conceivably be worse to come. If that is indeed the case, which at the minute is somewhat expected, then surely even the Chosen One won’t be able to withstand to weight of fan opposition.
Do you think Moyes Is the right man for Manchester United?
This post was written by Conor Gates. He is a true Manchester United supporter well worth a follow @ConorGates1