Thursday, April 24, 2014

For Moyes, Shoe Get Size

NO ONE expected David Moyes to last as long as his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United Football Club. But few also would have expected that his tenure would be this short.

On the morning of Tuesday, April 22, 2014, United terminated the six-year contract of Moyes exactly 10 months after he was appointed. Compared with Ferguson’s 26 years in charge, Moyes’ tenure has lasted just long enough to blink an eye. Unfortunately, he had it coming. I hate to say this because it may sound like kicking a man that is already down, but I always thought Moyes was the wrong man for the job and I said so in this column when he was appointed.

My premise was that Moyes made his name during his 11-year stay at Everton by playing a pragmatic, safety-first brand of football which may not suit United where Sir Alex had established a happy-go-lucky brand of ceaseless attacking football. Moyes played NOT TO LOSE while United played TO WIN. I was therefore “worried” (well, not in a negative sense since I support Liverpool!) that Moyes may not be able to adapt quickly to an attack-minded collection of players. But common sense suggested that Ferguson should know better than me and most pundits in such matters, so we had to respect his “Chosen One” and “wait and see,”

Well, the wait is over and we have seen what Moyes can do, which is not good enough. Sir Alex passed in flying colours at building several successful teams for United. But he failed woefully in picking the right successor.

Now, the debate is on whether Moyes could have succeeded at United if he had been given more time. Those in favour of this argument point to Ferguson’s own poor start to his United career which was nearly terminated prematurely before he went on a trophy-winning spree.

I am not persuaded by this argument because the two eras are different. The competition at the top of English and European football is much keener now, and I don’t feel that Moyes would have been able to achieve any turnaround in fortunes for United. In fact, the greater likelihood is that things would have got worse, so I have to say that United made the right decision to fire him now.

I should actually be disappointed like most Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal fans that United have made the “right decision” to sack Moyes. During his short stint, we all beneffited from picking free points home and away at Old Trafford against United. Ah, we are surely going to miss Mr. Moyes’ generosity (sob, sob, sob).

But, on the other hand, I could also say thank God that  the Moyes misery is over. I am surrounded by United supporters at home (my wife, second son and daughter) and I have a responsibility to be concerned about their happiness, too!

Joking aside, I enjoyed watching United when Ferguson was in charge especially when they were losing a game. I used to love the way they mounted relentless pressure on their opponents, practically gagging and suffocating them into submission like a lion does to its prey. Many times I was disappointed when United eventually fought their way back to those famous late, late victories, but I still enjoyed the spectacle of how they did it. And sometimes when they didn’t succeed, I enjoyed both the spectacle of their relentless efforts and the fact that they ultimately failed!

All that spectacle was thrown out of the wi ndow the moment Moyes stepped into Ferguson’s big shoes. Once United went down, they stayed down. There was no fighting spirit in the team anymore. It was obvious from early on that the manager and the team were disconnected. And Moyes didn’t help matters by repeatedly declaring that his team wasn’t good enough, and that he was looking to buy new players.

The day he said that United were “aspiring” to play like Manchester City after being comprehensively beaten 3-0 by their city rivals at Old Trafford, I sensed that his days were numbered. Not only did he lose the match, he also rubbished the pride of an average United fan. How could he say that about such a proud club, I thought.

The United that Ferguson left behind may have been a team on the decline and in need of fresh legs in several departments. But less than a year after they were crowned Premier League champions in 2013, they couldn’t have become so bad that they would be struggling in seventh place in 2014.

All said, I believe United just proved to be too big for Moyes. He could still be successful at some other low budget clubs with limited ambitions. But he just couldn’t handle a club the size of Manchester United. Shoe get size!


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