Coaches replacing a legend have the worst job in sports. The worst. From Day 1 you are being compared to the person you have just replaced and God help you if you start out slow. If you stumble out of the gate at the start of the season, the fans will turn on you. Especially if you stumble with the same roster that your predecessor left you. God help you if you were given a champion, and you can’t replicate that success. Well, welcome to the world of David Moyes the manager of Barclay’s Premier League juggernaut Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson was a legend. How do we know that? He was knighted! Regular people are not knighted by the Queen of England. Alex didn’t wake up one day and just started calling himself sir. He earned that title by being the winningest manager in English history. Knighted in 1999, the Scot holds many awards. Notably he has won the most Manager of the Year awards in British football history, he is the 3rd British manager to win 3 European cups, and when he retired after 26 years of service at Manchester United he won 38 trophies (13 Premier League titles, and 2 Champions League titles). He is not a hard act to follow. He’s an impossible act to follow.
Sir Alex is known for a hard style. He tells it like it is, he goes after who he needs to go after, but he’s was known for waging a war of the minds with an opposing manager, but win or lose invite him to have a glass of wine with him afterwards. He’d get in your head, and then offer you a drink and his thoughts afterwards. A warrior gentleman he was, and Manchester United fans, such as myself if you haven’t figured that out by now, greatly miss him. #ThankYouSirAlex still trends on Twitter from time to time. We are that appreciative of his service. When, Sir Alex announced his retirement a few months ago, we found out that he handpicked his successor in a fellow Scot, David Moyes.
Moyes, less than 21 years younger than his predecessor, is in his first season as manager of Manchester United. Before managing United, Moyes spent 10 years managing Everton which is a Premier League team based in the city of Liverpool. Everton, who plays in the shadow of wealthier and more accomplished Liverpool FC, is a tough job for a manager. Everton is a working man’s club, but the money needed to build a top team, and sustain it is not there. Everton, a bit unlike Liverpool and Manchester United, is a club that is dependent on home grown talent and play a more workman like type of soccer.
When Moyes took over Everton in March 2002 it was a club that had serious fears about being relegated down to the Championship. Not only did Moyes keep Everton in the Premier League, he brought them results that went far and above board and fan expectations. He did a lot with a little, and although fans called him “Dithering Dave” he did have the respect of his peers. However, many questioned (myself included) if he was the caliber of manager to make the step up to the winningest club there is in the British game.
So far, he’s proving that he is not of caliber. #MoyesOut is a popular trending topic and United’s record of 3 wins, 2 draws, and 3 losses out of the first 8 games (leaving them in 8th place out of 20 clubs) just isn’t good enough. Since, most people who come to www.7poundbag.com aren’t soccer fans necessarily they might be unaware that Manchester United are the defending champions of the Premier League! This slow start with a draw to rival Chelsea, and losses to rivals Liverpool and to their closest rival Manchester City, is a disappointing way to start the season. Sir Alex might have left but the core is exactly the same.
Last year’s leading goal scorer Robin Van Persie is still there. So is the lynchpin of the English National team, forward Wayne Rooney. Add that to the consistent presence of Michael Carrick in midfield, and stalwart center back Nemanja Vidic there is enough elite talent on the squad. There were no serious defectors from last year’s squad, and although they needed to add more depth to the team over the off period, they did bring in former Everton defensive midfielder Marrouane Fellaini. Fellaini, known for his massive afro, is a quality player for both club and country (in his case Belgium who will be appearing in the 2014 World Cup hosted by Brazil). The problem with Manchester United clearly isn’t the personnel. The personnel is there and the money is there to buy or sell whoever fits the manager’s vision. The problem is the manager doesn’t have a vision.
Moyes biggest issue is squad rotation. The Premier League season consists of 38 games. Home and away at the other 19 teams in the League. Add to those 38 games, cup games in both the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup and in the case of Manchester United there is also the Champions League. The Champions League is where defending champs of the other European leagues, as well as high placed finishers in the bigger leagues in Europe face off against each other. Basically, I’m saying a lot of games are played in a season and so far Moyes doesn’t know when to play his players or pick his strongest lineups.
Player dissatisfaction runs rampant. Rooney allegedly isn’t happy, but he and Moyes have prior history at Everton where Rooney started his career. Van Persie is allegedly unhappy with practice techniques. Patrice Evra, the stalwart French left back is making news about leaving since Moyes openly tried to bring in players to replace him and finally Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa who came over to United in a big money deal from German outfit Borussia Dortmund is dissatisfied over his place in the team. Instead of trying to rotate Kagawa in, Moyes appears to be content in leaving him out which is not only causing player dissatisfaction but the fans don’t get it either. Supporters are frustrated by Moyes’ inability to follow the same playbook handed to him. He was handed a winning poker hand and so far all he’s doing is folding and going bust.
Manchester United is far bigger than Everton. I’ve spent a lot of words trying to illustrate that simple point. When Sir Alex took over Manchester United in 1986 it was far removed from their last glory days of the late 1960’s. They were in the position to be built by a visionary. In his retirement, he made the mistake in not handing over the reigns to someone who knew how to manage such large expectations. There’s only a handful of managers currently in the game who know who to handle such a large apparatus and that’s the problem in following a legend and why so many coaches fail in that regard. They don’t share the same mindset their predecessor did and are crushed in trying to keep up. Now, I don’t follow the #MoyesOut crowd on Twitter but I do share the same opinion that they do: the successor to David Moyes will achieve some of the same glories Manchester United fans had under the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
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