It is no longer news that the indomitable Sir Alex Ferguson has retired amidst much fanfare. Eulogies on how he impacted the game and gushing testimonials of his managerial prowess have been somewhat only overshadowed in recent days because of the intrigues, excitement and craziness that always surround transfer activities and the on-going FIFA Confederations cup in Brazil.
The subsequent appointment of David Moyes in his stead has been hailed by many as a coup and the man has been praised as the perfect choice capable of replicating Fergie’s wild success at United in a show of moral support and encouragement which I can only imagine is a concerted effort at instilling a sense of positivity and optimism around the club. True, such optimism is needed especially since United’s strangle-hold on England has not been as tight as it was in recent years
Their last League cup triumph dates back to ‘09/’10 season; FA cup victory is even further back in 2004 And although they still remain consistently firm favourites and strong contenders in the EPL, the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer and if not for Manchester City’s incredible mid-season implosion last season that rendered the red half of Manchester as runaway winners, the margin with which they claim the title had been getting narrower and narrower.
So Sir Alex’s announced retirement must surely have woken up more doubts and fears in the hearts of the staunchest of the Red Devil’s supporters. Doubts the appointment of a replacement with proven pedigree of competing and winning at the highest levels would have done a lot to lessen but in the choice of David Moyes as the new gaffer, Old Trafford faithful's already tremulous legs further took several knocks and Man Utd fans all-over have lost the natural swagger of assured champions.
The question to be asked now is: Is United still really United?
Of course they no one could ever hope for the same United under Moyes, but is this team still up to mounting serious title challenges? The sorry decline of Liverpool and under Roy Hodgson, the disastrous experiment of Mark Hughes at Man City, the falling apart of Real Madrid under Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp’s failure at Spurs, the dismal capitulation of England under Steve McClaren to mention a few are examples of what can happen when a manager is placed in a position that is out of his depth and frankly that is what this current pairing looks like.
While no one can take away his glowing track record at Everton and how he consistently delivered on keeping the club in the top flight while operating on a shoe-string budget, often losing his star players in the process his prudent use of funds and habit of seeking shrewd bargains might be part of his undoing. In a club like Manchester United, as Arsene Wenger has come to learn of late, you can’t scrounge pennies for transfers and expect quality players capable of delivering continental glory, what you’ll get at best are average players that will take about 2 or 3 seasons before they can be blooded into the champion ways and I'm rather afraid Monsieur Moyes is much too used to his bargain players to be able to transition into a manager capable of spotting and aggressively pursuing the signature of champions. Another danger is that when he does realizes and start spending, his relative inexperience in managing players of world class reputation and quality may count against him such that he might just assemble an expensive rabble of misfits like Mark Hughes did at City.
Convincing players in the calibre of Lewandowski and Gotze to come play for a man who until recently was coaching the likes of Drenthe, Osman, Anichebe is also going to be a tall order. And I fear few players in the calibre of what the Red Devils need and indeed are accustomed to will be willing to work with him for now as the club will be regarded as being in a transition period with the attendant risks it poses to any player’s career.
The final and biggest hurdle is getting the mentality of the manager to change. This is a man who until a few weeks ago, finishing 15th on the log was not a dismal performance and qualifying for a spot in Europe is an over-achievement of his season target. How is that same man supposed to suddenly come up with plans to conquer the whole of England talk-less Europe? But of course, these are all the musings of a pundit and we all know how premature those can be or not?
Now it remains to be seen if the appointment of Moyes is really a blessing for United or their competition!