Blame Ferguson for Manchester United's decline, not David Moyes
The end of the 2012/13 season saw the end of a historic era in football, Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement. He capped it off the way he ended so many seasons as manager of Manchester United, winning the league title.
Football was to say goodbye to one of its most iconic, controversial and successful figures. From half-time hair dryer treatments to more chewing gum than is deemed healthy, the fiery scot had certainly left his mark on the beautiful game.
Then came the moment all at United had dread, finding his successor. It was like a nightmare that everyone had just woke up from in a hot sweat, laying back taking a deep breath in relief thinking it was all a dream, then bolting back up realising it was a reality.
Panic stations. Who could possible take over from the biggest hot seat in English football, possibly the world. Countless names were drawn up, of world class standard of course. Many looked at Jose Mourinho as the top choice, going on his record in England and in Europe, but these rumours were soon quashed when he made his messiah-esque return to Chelsea.
With the whole world going into a frenzy over who the new man could be, Ferguson chose almost the rank outsider, Everton manager, David Moyes. Was this really the man to continue the great Manchester United's legacy? A man who had never won a major trophy and had only made it to the last 16 of the then Eufa Cup with Everton.
The initial jokes came that Sir Alex only hired Moyes because he was a fellow Scot. The real reasons behind his appointment were revealed by United as his stability with Everton while working with a limited budget and the longevity of his employment with the Toffees, which was a major factor for the job after Ferguson's record breaking tenure. All very good and justifiable points, but would it actually work?
Immediately Moyes faced his first major obstacle, his relationship with Wayne Rooney. The England striker had left Everton on a sour note after he handed in a transfer request back in 2004. Ferguson claimed before his final Old Trafford game against Swansea that Rooney had again handed in a transfer request and asked not to play in said game. Now that Moyes and Rooney were reunited, would the Three Lions forward want to play for the Red Devils under his former manager? Moyes immediately told the world his striker was not for sale, despite interest from some of Europe's top clubs.
With the Rooney situation seemingly under control with no real protest from the player, Moyes could finally begin his new reign in Manchester. It began with a 4-1 away victory over, ironically, Swansea City. His home debut came against one of Ferguson's biggest rivals and friends, now Chelsea manager, Mourinho. The game ended in a somewhat dull stalemate, but worse was to come. Moyes's men then faced historic rivals Liverpool at Anfield. The Red Devils fell to 1-0 loss which seemed to be the catalyst to how their season would pan out.
A series of draws and losses to teams deemed "lesser clubs" at home, together with the odd win here or there, began to provoke the united faithful into unease. We're they totally behind the new manager? Did they truly believe he could bring them the success they craved? During Ferguson's last ever end of season home speech, he request the fans "stick by their new manager", but even he began to look less than impressed looking on from the stands.
Moyes's reign hit its lowest point with cup exits in a late FA Cup home defeat to Swansea together with a penalty shoot out loss to struggling Sunderland in the league cup semi-final to send the black cats through to Wembley. United tried claw back form in the league but were sent crashing down by 3-0 defeats at home to bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. These losses were quickly rectified by routs in the next two games, however Moyes was to face his execution following a defeat to former club Everton.
Having left United in a previously unknown seventh place in the league with no silverware and a slim chance of even qualifying for the Europa League, the vultures had waited long enough and finally put the former Preston manager out of his misery.
Was it totally Moyes's fault? His pedigree was certainly not the stuff of legend. Should he have been put in that position in the first place? There is no doubting the experience and achievement of Sir Alex but there is a case that he dropped the ball hugely with this appointment. Consider the gravity of the job and the candidate he put forward for it. Clearly Moyes was out his comfort zone and this shone threw during his first few defeats. His signing of Marouane Fellaini was a huge miss as the Belgian midfielder never managed to replicate his Everton form and has been hindered by injuries. However Moyes can be thanked for record signing Juan Mata who has so far delivered since his arrival from Chelsea.
What Moyes also can take pride in is United's Champions League campaign. Securing a record 5-0 win away at Bayern Leverkusen was the main highlight in the group stages. Yes, the first leg loss to Olympiakos summed up united's frailties but they fought straight back to progress to the quarter-finals. They carried themselves incredible well against holders Bayern Munich and even took the lead at the Allianz Arena before finally succumbing to the Bundesliga champions club's class.
It is only now that the club are looking to the world finest in management to bring back both pride and success to the theatre of dreams. The future for Moyes, however, is very much a mystery.
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