FOX Soccer Exclusive
Moyes' decisions dooming United
Right about now, I believe we are supposed to start feeling sorry for David Moyes.
He thought he was signing up for his dream job. Instead, what he’s got a team full of guys who can’t wait to head for the exit and a completely unrealistic fan base baying for his head. He’s got the old manager staring down at him from the director’s box and every day he gets to open up the paper to get “advice” from any number of so-called “United insiders.” And he managed to take over one of the best-supported team in the world, just as his entire cast of characters started to age out.
I always felt that this job was a poisoned chalice. Moyes should have had the common sense to see that as well, but ego sometimes makes men do strange things. Such as: clearing out the long-season backroom staff at the club you just took over. Such as: buying Juan Mata at a huge markup and subsequently creating real problems in integrating him into your squad. And such as: not drilling your team in the art of killing a game off.
That last one reared its head in Sunday’s “loss” against Fulham – because, let’s be frank, when you chuck away a lead in stoppage time to the Prem’s worst side, that’s really what it feels like regardless of the scoreline. It’s a good thing that the folks who take to Twitter every game day don’t actually control his tenure at the club, because if they did, he’d be halfway up by Aberdeen by nightfall.
Those fans, as previously mentioned, are wildly unrealistic. United remains in the hunt for a European slot and they actually have a chance of going deep in this year’s Champions League thanks to a very soft round-of-16 draw against Olympiakos. Also, United have actually overachieved for decades, and that’s a testament to how extraordinary Sir Alex Ferguson truly was. (Is it churlish of me to note that if United had the ten points Sir Alex was famously alleged to give them every season, they’d be in fourth – one ahead of Liverpool?)
However, those fans also have some very, very valid points. What does it say when your captain publicly admits he’d like to “move on” from a team with which he won 15 trophies? Does Nemanja Vidic really think a move to, say, Toronto, is going to bring him the same sort of glory? Why do the players look as if they don’t know where to be – or worse, as if they’d rather be somewhere else?
Wayne Rooney reacts in disbelief after United surrenders a late goal to Fulham. (Photo: Carl Recine Livepic/Action Images)
Also, why in the world, when asked if you can catch your archrivals, Liverpool, would you grimace and answer: “Well, we’ll do the best we can,” a remark greeted with astonishment in the press lounge. And on a similar subject, why did you concede you couldn’t win the Champions League so early in the season? That also wasn’t very smart.
Of course, according to Moyes, Manchester United have been very unlucky. Really? One might point out that Sunday they caught a massive break when Kieran Richardson, with all the net to shoot at, inexplicably popped into the Stretford End. That was lucky, for Fulham might have gone on to actually win the game. What he cannot mention is that, by and large, good teams make their own luck; they win games because they are able to finish off the ball that lands on the lucky bounce, and they get the calls because the refs assume that, since they’re pretty good, that that dive can’t actually be a dive.
No, the reason that Manchester United are lacking this year has nothing to with luck, and everything to do with poor choices. They rely too much on individual efforts and don’t show the tactical awareness needed to succeed at the highest level. It was telling that against a Fulham side that, if we’re honest, was pretty atrocious, United’s entire game plan consisted of doing the same thing, over and over again.
One would have though that, after seeing hulking defender Dan Burn head your crosses away for the 19th time, that you might to do something different. Indeed, Rene Meulensteen was almost gleeful post-game in pointing out that United’s play was actually quite straightforward. That means “not a good choice” in coach-speak, by the way.
A lot of things haven’t been well thought out under Moyes at United this year. The team desperately needed a housecleaning, which they didn’t do. The team needed experienced hands in the backroom –as opposed to Moyes loyalists – and they didn’t do that either. And now that they are in a losing spiral, the last thing they need is a weak manager – which is what Moyes seems to be with each passing day. Notably, every time the camera cuts away to the ashen-faced Scot on the sideline, it then conveniently pans up to another ruddy Scot in the upper deck. That one I’ll give to Moyes, because no one really needs that, either.
Yet, while I guess I should feel sorry for this poor manager, albeit at one of the world’s biggest clubs, I don’t. I wonder instead when United will cut their losses. Moyes seems more and more like a transitional figure, not a permanent manager of this side. That’s got nothing to with luck, and everything to do with the results.
More Stories From Jamie Trecker