Moyes: Growing into the job at Manchester United?
David Moyes may finally be getting to grips with the enormity of his task at Old Trafford if recent developments are anything to go by.
The Scot has endured a difficult few months since replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, but recent results and issues have seen his managerial attitude change into that expected of a Manchester United manager.
When the former Everton manager replaced perennial winner Ferguson in July, he had been touted as the man to take Manchester United forward.
His relatively successful time at Everton, given the stability he brought the club, was pinpointed as a major reason for his appointment in the north-west.
However, Moyes has had struggles since beginning in July. Struggles that have ensured his first few months in the job were uncomfortable.
Two defeats to bitter rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, the former being a 4-1 humiliation, saw some fans rashly calling for the 50-year-old to be sacked back in September.
A below-par pre-season, in terms of results, didn’t help Moyes’ standing with the more flitting fans and his seemingly terse relationships with Shinji Kagawa and Wilfried Zaha added fuel to the fire.
Moyes stuck to his guns, refusing to bow to fan pressure, instead picking the players he wanted to pick. But it almost came at a price.
The turning point, if that is what it proves to be, may have come during the game against Stoke City at Old Trafford in October.
Behind twice and facing yet another bleak result at Old Trafford (to sit alongside the draw with Southampton and loss to West Bromwich Albion), Moyes cut a lonely figure in the United dugout.
The pressure was building on the 50-year-old, but United found a resilience that had previously been missing as Rooney and Javier Hernandez secured their manager arguably the most important victory of his managerial career.
Two wins – one in the league and a League Cup procession over Norwich – followed and Moyes looked ready for the challenge again.
He was no longer the meek manager calling Manchester United “they”; it dawned on him that this was his team now.
“They” became “we” and “us”, as he first defended Marouane Fellaini’s reaction to Sascha Riether’s shameful stamp on Adnan Januzaj before playing the Ferguson-trademark “no issue here” card following Ashley Young’s debatable winning of a penalty at Real Sociedad.
"The referee was two yards away and gave a penalty kick. You need to talk to the referee," said Moyes in Spain.
It was a far cry from the Scot’s view in September, when Young had previously gone to ground surreptitiously against Crystal Palace.
"I don't want my players diving,” blasted the United manager. “It's not what I want. Dikgacoi definitely throws his leg out but Ashley put his leg into his leg."
That Champions League draw at Sociedad put United in a decent position in Group A, and was followed by a resilient win over table-topping Arsenal on Sunday.
Further signs of a David Moyes who realizes his task, and is warming to it nicely.
Moyes has a strong idea of the players who serve him well now; he has an established XI working hard and crucially, has tightened up at the back.
David De Gea has become commanding again, Shinji Kagawa is getting his chance even if he’s not taking it and Wayne Rooney – a player many thought would not play for Moyes – has been a beacon of professionalism.
Robin Van Persie’s goals don’t hurt the Red Devils’ cause either.
United look to be in a healthy place, and so does Moyes as his team sits five points off top.
The Stoke game looks to have awoken a decisive manager from his overawed slumber, in the nick of time for United’s title defence.
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