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B Baskar

The unbearable burden of being David Moyes

| Updated on January 10, 2014 Published on January 10, 2014

Is Moyes the right man?

As a Spurs fan I never thought a day would come when I’d end up feeling sorry for Manchester United. But that day has come. David Moyes, the Manchester United manager, must be the loneliest man in English football now. United, the defending champions, are currently seventh in the league, 11 points off leaders Aresnal, with a little more than half the season gone. They have just suffered their fourth defeat at home in all competitions. And losing to Sunderland in the League Cup a couple of days ago must surely be the last straw for the faithful. There are as many as four teams which have won for the first time in 20 years at Old Trafford this season.

So how did it all go so wrong for Moyes, ‘the anointed one’? To be fair, when Alex Ferguson hand-picked Moyes at the end of last season, the expectations from him were not very high. A top four finish in the league and a reasonable run in the Champion’s League and the FA Cup was the maximum that was expected from him. But how did United land up in the current mess they are in? Moyes did not inherit a great team from Ferguson. United were a team that needed rebuilding but that did not happen due to the obstinacy of Ferguson and reasons financial. The warning signs have been there for the last few seasons. Barcelona rang the warning bells when they dismantled United in the 2011 Champion’s league finals at Wembley. But yet Ferguson and the Glazers did nothing. United won the league last season more due to their tenacity and the generosity of rivals Manchester City and Chelsea and not because of their stellar performance on the pitch.

To make matters worse, Moyes did not manage to attract any top talent in the transfer market last summer and his only high profile signing Marouane Fellaini has been nothing short of a disaster.

What must really be galling for Moyes and the United faithful is that Everton, a team Moyes managed till last season, are currently ranked two places higher than them in the league. To add another layer of irony, Everton are managed this season by Roberto Martinez, under whom Wigan Athletic got relegated last season despite winning the FA Cup!

So where do United go from here? Writing off this season and rebuilding the team seems to be the obvious answer. But that is easier said than done. Not many top players would be willing to come to United, who in all likelihood are going to miss out on the Champion’s league next season. But more importantly, for the long run, Moyes and United must make a concerted effort to move out of Ferguson’s shadow. If writer David Peace is to be believed, when the legendary Brian Clough took over Leeds United back in the seventies from Don Revie, he is supposed to have dragged Revie’s desk and chair to the Elland Road ground and burnt them. He didn’t want anything in his office to remind him of his predecessor Revie!

Now no one is suggesting Moyes do something quite as drastic as that. But the sooner United move out of Ferguson’s shadow the better it is for them. The Ferguson era is over and he was the last of the old school British football managers – domineering and dictatorial. But is Moyes the right man for that? The Glazers now must be wondering whether they were right in letting Ferguson choose his successor instead of going for a more high profile manager like Mourinho, Guardiola or Ancelotti. These men surely would have been better suited to bring in the wholesale changes that are required – both of personnel and management style.

Having said that, this football season in England has been the most riveting one in many years, with only two points separating the top 3 and any one of the top four having shot at the title.

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Published on January 10, 2014
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