Manchester United, the most successful club in English football, known and feared in recent years for their ruthless counter attacking football and dominance in England and in Europe. Managed by arguably the best manager of all time in Sir Alex Ferguson, and having had some of the best players to have played the game such as Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs, Stam, Van Der Sar and Schmeichel, just to name a few; this combination of talent, dedication and the will to win has made this club one of the most exciting teams to watch in recent history.
The nature of the game and indeed life is that nothing stays the same, players and managers age, and eventually the time comes to hang up their boots. Sir Alex Ferguson called time on his managerial career on the 8th of May this year (2013). To many this was a shock, as it seemed impossible to think of anyone but Ferguson at the helm of the Red Devils.
The man to fill Ferguson’s boots would be fellow Scot and then Everton manager, David Moyes. The most popular candidate for the job and probably the best choice. With a steely no-nonsense attitude and having worked miracles at Everton for the last 10 years, not only did he in a manner “deserve” the chance to manage United, but he is similar to Ferguson in the way he is able to get the most out of his players. On the 1st of July, the start of the Moyes era had begun, Moyes signed a six year contract and with Ferguson leaving a large void to fill, the former Preston and Everton manager would have arguably the hardest job in football.
The United team that Sir Alex had built over the last seven to eight seasons in particular, who are still playing now are Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Nemanja Vidić, Robin Van Persie, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney. The first seven names in that list are all over 30, bar Darren Fletcher, the latter 3 are all 27 and over, in the peak years of their careers. These players all have experience but are at the tail ends of their careers compared with other players in the team.
The likes of David De Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Fellaini, Kagawa, Chicarito and Welbeck are all developing into good players, and are all 25 or under. Some of the players in this Manchester United team perhaps lack the quality needed for a championship side, such as Cleverley, Anderson, Büttner, Fabio, Young and Nani. The players listed there have all had their moments of brilliance, but are not consistent, especially Nani and Anderson.
Nani can both excite and disappoint by putting in a blinding performance one game, and hardly being involved the next. Anderson, since his debut season in 2007 has rarely lit up the theatre of dreams and has only featured three times this Premier League season. Ashley Young, infamous for his diving is not the quality winger that United have had in the past, such as George Best, Cristiano Ronaldo or even the ever present Ryan Giggs and even Nani.
It could be said that Moyes has the job of rebuilding United, with a mixture of ageing players and some below the standard expected of United. Having said this, why would they be any different under Moyes? Players don’t suddenly change overnight. This could be down to having a new manager, and feeling that he has to earn their respect. The relationship isn’t there yet and especially as Moyes hasn’t managed a “Big Club” they might feel he isn’t good enough.
Therefore, Moyes has to start from the bottom, and form relationships with his players and earn their respect, like Ferguson did (mostly). The fact that he could only lure two players to the Theatre of Dreams this summer may not all be down to him, but one can only wonder, would the same thing have happened if Ferguson was still at the helm?. Every manager is different so it may take time for this United team to find it’s feet under Moyes, and as football goes in cycles, they may even take a few seasons to get back to being a dominant force.
Whether Moyes is the right man for the job, remains to be seen. With the fantastic work he put in at Everton, he definitely has a shot at something special with United, maybe all this panic is premature? Whatever the outcome, it will all become clear in May.