Manchester United Season Preview: Life After Ferguson
The 2013/2014 season will begin a new era for Manchester United. For the first time in 26 years, Sir Alex Ferguson will not be in charge of a team that has won 13 out of a possible 21 Barclays Premier League titles. Ferguson’s chosen replacement is his fellow countryman David Moyes, formerly of Everton. The pressure will be on Moyes this season to fill Sir Alex’s extremely large shoes and he must hit the ground running. No one is expecting Moyes to be an over night success and most realize comparison to Ferguson at this point is futile. The transition will take time, and Moyes is a stable manager who could drive United to success. However, skepticism among many fans has been rife throughout pre-season with many already writing off any potential title hopes as a consequence of poor results and failure to make an impact so far in the transfer market.
David Moyes was the choice of Sir Alex Ferguson to be his replacement. The club could have chosen the mercurial Jose Mourinho who has made no secret of his desire to manage the English giants at some point. However, instead Manchester United are once again thinking about the long term and the specifically the longevity of Ferguson’s successor. David Moyes is one of the longest serving managers in the Premier League era whilst at a single club having been manager of Everton for over 10 years. Although well respected for his time at Everton, Moyes was unable to win a major trophy whilst in charge. The highlight of his Merseyside career came with qualification for the Champions league and a 4th placed finish. Last weekends Community Shield victory will have without shadow of a doubt reemphasized the importance of winning titles and trophies as the manager of Manchester United. United will be hoping that Moyes can emulate his predecessor with a long and fruitful career as manager of the club. Unfortunately, if you were to listen to many unconvinced United fans, he might not last until Christmas.
Manchester United’s start to the season will throw Moyes and his new team in at the deep end. They face Swansea, Liverpool and City away, with Chelsea and Crystal Palace at home in the first five games of the season. Nemanja Vidic described the run as "the toughest start we have had since I have been here”. For a manager and team that will be under the microscope more than any other, United couldn’t have wished for a more difficult run of opening fixtures. Moyes will be looking to silence critics and calm nerves in these fixtures. A win at home against Mourinho’s Chelsea (who many have as favourites for the title) will go a long way to gain the support of the fans and players alike. David Moyes was the most logical appointment as manager of Manchester United. However, he must now go out and prove it.
Throughout last season, comparisons were made between Fergusons current crop and his teams of the past. Almost unanimously it was believed that they did not match up. However, United still won a record 20th title. This summer the revelation that Wayne Rooney once again wants to leave the club is a story that will not relent, and is one that could further weaken the side. Rooney did not have his greatest season last term, although many fans seem to forget what he has achieved at the club. If Rooney were to remain at United there is no doubt that he would go on to become their record goal scorer. However, poor management from Moyes made Rooney privy to the fact that he would play second fiddle to one Robin Van Persie this year. Moyes stated that “Overall, my thought on Wayne is, if for any reasons we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we’ll need him”. Effectively Moyes stated that Rooney would be back up to Van Persie. A player that thrives off of a sizeable ego such as Rooney is one that needs to be treated carefully, and Moyes is now experiencing the backlash of his poor treatment. Rooney will tonight look to make an impression against Scotland and send out a message not only to his United manager but to clubs around the world.
It is no secret that Manchester United have struggled so far in this seasons transfer window. Wilfried Zaha has joined, but that was a deal completed in January and brokered by a certain Sir Alex. Zaha is undoubtedly a talent, but talk of the player being ‘star struck’ in the dressing room among may signal a transition period for the youngster. Apart from a relatively unknown right back (who has been loaned since), United have been unable to attract this big name players to the club. A heavily publicized pursuit of Cesc Fabregas left the club red faced with his stark statement that he would not be leaving. Moyes now looks like he will be moving for at least one of his former charges in Marouane Fellaini. Although not necessarily a marquee signing, Fellaini would be an excellent acquisition for the club and would give them a much-needed different dimension. Were they to fail in any move for Fellaini, the club already has a player that could fill that position. Anderson has publicly had a difficult time at Manchester United since moving from Porto six years ago. However, he has impressed in pre season and looks ready to contribute this term. In my opinion selling Wayne Rooney (especially to a rival) would be a terrible decision. Especially if the extremely injury prone Van Persie were to develop a problem. Were this the case, United would be left with Welbeck whos scoring record speaks for itself and Hernandez, which will not be enough to win the league.
I am not the biggest Manchester United fan, however I cannot help but respect a team that has achieved so much in the game. Unfortunately for them I believe that success will not continue this season. In terms of the Premier League, Manchester City have quietly gone about their business under the radar and removed their greatest obstacle towards the title in Roberto Mancini. The return of Jose Mourinho is also ominous for United. The last time he was in England Manchester United suffered one of the poorest periods in recent times as he went on to dominate English football. United may also suffer again in Europe this season, especially with Moyes’s limited experience in the competition. One thing many have glazed over is the loss of Paul Scholes. Scholes has been a mainstay in much of United’s success over the past 20 years and has never been successfully replaced. You can never rule out a United team, but I am confident in saying that they will not retain the title this season.
Manchester United are notorious for their never say die attitude and uncanny ability to win when they have no right to do so. However, I believe that their luck may have finally run out. Moyes must be given time to prove himself, that is without question. But, if Moyes does not hit the ground running, and results do not go his way, there is only so much time a team such as Manchester United can give until they must buckle under the pressure of expectancy.
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