When David Moyes was made Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Manchester United last season, it was at the expense of Jose Mourinho. David Moyes might not be doing a great job right now, but would Manchester United fans really want ‘The Special One’ in charge instead? I certainly wouldn’t.
On face value it seems like a ludicrous thing to say, Mourinho’s Chelsea sit top of the Barclays Premier League and have just qualified for the next stage of the Champions League. Meanwhile Moyes’ men are languishing down in seventh and are facing elimination from Europe’s elite against Olympiakos. But this is Manchester United we’re talking about. United’s managers need to do more than just get results, they need to have a certain persona, a certain class.
Now I’m not saying that Sir Alex was always classy, nor was he perfect, but he had something about him which just embodies the spirit of Manchester United. He lived and breathed football, and he really understood the passion and the earthy roots of the game. In his 27 years at United he was hated by many, but ultimately respected by all.
To some extent, Moyes replicates those qualities. A down to earth Scotsman, who worked his way up the managerial ladder, and eventually proved his capability to manage a premier league side at Everton.
He was widely regarded as an understated genius during his time on Merseyside. Working with very little financial backing, he was able to establish Everton as a top six club, and even helped them to a place in the Champions League in 2005.
However, his time at Everton rewarded him with no trophies. A 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the 2009 FA Cup final being the closest he came.
Not only that, his record against the ‘top four’ was less than impressive.
It was these shortcomings which led to many Manchester United fans having doubts about Moyes’ appointment.
Nonetheless, when Ferguson made his farewell speech on the Old Trafford pitch last May, and told the United faithful they needed to “stand by our new manager”, the sceptics bit their tongue, and trusted Sir Alex, after all, why wouldn’t they?
Fast Forward 10 months and things are looking bleak. Moyes has helped United break all the wrong records this season:
1) First loss to West Bromwich Albion in 35 years
2) First loss to Moyes’ former employers Everton in 22 years
3) Lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2001
The list goes on.
But it hasn’t just been the results which have been abysmal for United this campaign. The performances have been among some of the worst United have seen in the premier league era. You can point the finger at the players, key men such as Robin Van Persie, Antonia Valencia and Nemanja Vidic just haven’t been good enough this year. Combine that with the amount of injuries United have suffered, and you could make an argument that it isn’t Moyes Fault.
But I’m afraid that simply doesn’t wash. Moyes’ tactics in big games just haven’t been up to scratch. Sunday’s defeat to arch rivals Liverpool was another case in point. Brendan Rodgers’ side outplayed the home side in every aspect. Tactically, Rodgers got it oh so right, and Moyes got it oh so wrong.
This sparked another flurry of articles online questioning how long Moyes had left. With one newspaper even running a poll on it’s website as to who should replace him.
So then, to Mourinho. Stan Collymore sensationally suggested in February that if Moyes was sacked and Mourinho was offered the Old Trafford hotseat, he would take it. Despite only being in charge at Chelsea for less than a season.
Whether or not this is true, would United really want him?
Sure he might improve results, he is undoubtedly one of the most tactically astute managers in world football. But he comes with baggage.
He is everything which Manchester United isn’t. Cocky, arrogant, self-absorbed. He is a manager who puts himself first and his club second.
He loves scandal, too. Just look at Chelsea’s trip to Aston Villa last weekend. Chelsea had two men sent off, carnage ensued, Mourinho was on the pitch berating referee Chris Foy, and was ultimately sent off himself.
Would United fans really want that, for the sake of some short-term success? I know I wouldn’t.
I do believe that David Moyes is not the right man to take Manchester United forward in the post-Fergie era. He is a wonderful manager and an even better man, and I really do hope that I am proved wrong. But I just don’t think his managerial style is suited to the level of the game where the Red Devils belong.
16 of the 20 premier league clubs would be extremely lucky to have Moyes at the helm. But fifth place might just be his managerial plateaux.