In a season of surprises it is no surprise to see Manchester United part company with manager David Moyes (is there a song in there somewhere)?
In truth Moyes United career seemed under threat almost as soon as he was appointed. Utd are one of sports biggest brands and for the previous 27 years had one if not the most famous managers. Expectation from the fans was for a big name replacement, someone who could handle the pressures of consistent success, the ego's of star players and the style of play expected at Old Trafford.
It seems the club prefered to follow its reputation for patience and longevity in their appointments. Moyes had been Everton manager for 10 years and rebuilt the side during his time. An up and down league position was a concern in a less competitive league. However the fact he had never won a major trophy or had a reputation for attacking football had suggested the challenge he had accepted was an uphill task. Following one the greatest managers of all time would have been difficult for even Jose. As would inheriting a squad who although comfortable winners of the previous season Premier League but clear squad weaknesses.
Early signs of problems to come were viable prior to the start of the season. Starting on July 1st he referred to wanting to get to know the players. Fair enough on a personal level, fair enough on a professional what makes them tick view but he talked about understanding his best eleven and what the players could offer on the pitch. Surely the man would have know the on pitch attributes to a high level by playing against them season after season?
The summer transfer window was a disaster. As top managers tell you you need to strengthen every season especially when you win a title. Some players hunger declines others need pressure on their first team roles. A last hours panic purchase of Evertons Marouane Fellaini made no sense. He was effective in Moyes final few seasons playing behind a front man as a battering ram type. Not the type of player associated with Utd. Instead he was presented as a defensive midfielder or central midfield option with Michael Carrick entering his 33rd year. What he didn't have was/is pace, a high percentage pass rate, the ability to dictate tempo or the game reading skills to protect the centre backs and fill in the holes as they appear. All of these are needed at high level to play title winning football. The blame at the time was and should be thrown at the second new Utd appointment Edward Woodward. Woodward after all attempted to bring a number of targets and achieved none.
Moyes then was left with a title winning squad and Saved by the Bells most famous star. He had the Utd fans prepared for a season of transition. The common view was without suitable summer investment (not for the first season to be fair) the season was about maintaining a challenge to the title/Champions League perhaps without the expectation of winning them plus a decent domestic cup performance. The end result are well known and the statistics are worse than even the most pessimistic Utd fan could have had pre season.
- West Brom won at OT for the first time since 1978
- Everton won at OT for the first time in 21 years and did the double for the first time in 44 years.
- Newcastle won at OT, first time in 41 years.
- Knocked out of the 3rd round of the FA Cup for only the second time in 30 years.
- Lost to Stoke for the first time in 30 years.
- In the Champions League Utd lost to a greek side for the first time.
- Beaten home and away by Liverpool without scoring.
- Beaten home and away to Manchester City 7-1 over the two games.
- 11 defeats is a record in a premier league for Utd.
- 1 Victory in 13 games against the top eight sides.
- No Champions League qualification for the first time since 1995.
- The lowest ever points return in the Premier League by the club.
- Giving a Nani a new contract!!!!
In the January window he signed Juan Mata from Chelsea, a player more fitting to the normal signing. However he positioned him to right hand side of the United attack. Amazing really as he had failed in the very same role early season at Chelsea. He decided he couldn't play him in his best role behind the forward as that would mean dropping either RVP or Rooney. Further we already have Kagawa and Adnan coming through who also can play the very same role. After it became clear Mata could not work on the right hand side there was no change of tactics. Considering the weakness of the current wingers a change to the diamond with Mata playing behind RVP/Roo could have been tried, it wasn't. Only when injuries happened did Mata play in a central role and did we see a little of the old style.
There are plenty more and there also plenty of rumours of lack of discipline, unpopular training methods, leaked team news, unhappy players etc and the constant first team rotation when struggling for form grrrrrr.
David Moyes is not a bad manager. Despite what has happened at Old Trafford he will be at the top of many of the shortlists for upcoming possible opportunities in the summer. He has just shown his level. He also seems a nice enough guy and I wish him all the best in the future
From a fans point of view the issue that I found hardest to accept was his choice of approach to playing a game. Gone was the risking taking. Gone was the pace and dynamic attacking approach to our forward play. The games became awful to watch, my enjoyment gone. Whilst winning trophies is the most important end game Manchester United have a history of flair, of winning with glory, never giving up and winning in dramatic fashion with wonder goals. When I watch them I want to know the skill and imagination Utd players show matches the clubs history. When I watch utd play I WANT TO WISH I WAS ONE OF THEM.
Whoever takes over really does have a big challenge. The squad is a year older and the younger players development has stalled under the failures. Summer signings will be challenging with no Champions League football and a World Cup meaning new players may miss pre season.
I will do piece later in the summer looking at what United need in the window for us to comment. For now it is about getting the correct manager. Currently Louis Van Gaal, Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Ryan Giggs are the earlier favourites
Odds on favourite and you can see why. He has won trophies wherever he has managed. He is quite clear to tell you he is an arrogant man but arrogant managers tend to be winning managers and if there are egos within the dressing room he seems the sort them out or throw them out. Tactically he is excellent and confident. At a time following a gamble with Moyes, Van Gaal seems a safer pair of hands. Interestingly I wonder where this would leave Wayne Rooney, Van Gaal has made Robin Van Persie Holland captain and would seem sure to start him as Utds forward. Alex Ferguson's view was that Rooney has started to decline as a player and we know neither Moyes/Fergie got the RVP/Roo pair working well together. Also Van Gaal favours the 433 formation which could mean a wide roles for Rooney for that Mata (hehe) Mata which do not suit them. Perhaps either of them can be pushed in a midfield role should he stick with this formation. The concern is that Val Gaal's seems unable to hold a job down. After 6 years at Ajax he has 3 years at Barca, 2 as National coach, 1 more at Barca, 4 at AZ, 2 at Bayern Munich and 2 again as national coach. The united job will take more than a couple seasons to build a new first team to Champions League glory, will he last that long?
He has the charisma for the job, has proven he can develop young players and plays attacking football as Dortmund manager. This season has been tougher. He had to deal with Bayern poaching players and injuries to his remaining star players. However the sides home performances against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were fantastic to watch. One thing the media will have a field day with his surname!
Current Real Madrid manager in pole position to play a Champions League final next month. Manager of a fantastic AC Milan side and Chelseas double winning side. Plays attacking football and seems crazy that Madrid would let him go but failure to with the Champions League/la Liga seems likely to cost every manager their job for the foreseeable future.
Strange that this rumour has sprung up. Based upon supposed stories he has fallen out with Chelsea behind the scenes. I'm not buying it nor do I believe Chelsea would allow him to leave if there was any truth in it. Finally whilst he is one of the elite Managers in world football I do not think the style his team plays with would appeal to the fans and his poor PR skills would not appeal to brand people.
One of United's greatest players who will be in charge for the final fours games of the season. However I simply camp believe the number of fans who were calling for his appointment prior to Moyes leaving and now want him to become permanent. He is a current player who has never managed at any level. Long term in years to come perhaps but you don't want to follow a gamble with a gamble do you?
Whatever the club decides it is a big summer, what are your thoughts on MOyes leaving and who should replace him?