Moyes’ Coaching Clearout: The Unforgivable Decision that Doomed Our Season
Following our tragic performance on the outskirts of Athens earlier this week – the unravelling of what now looks like an almost hallucinogenic European dream – the tide seems to be well and truly turning against Moyes.
He’s odds on as the next Premier League manager to lose his job, and it’s hard to see how he could possibly turn things round after draining the life from our team in such profound style.
A Broken Manchester United
Broken. That’s the one word that sums up Manchester United right now.
There’s a lot that’s broken. The fans’ faith for one. After Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace, there was a new sense of belief. Rooney had signed a new contract, scored a lovely goal and the team seemed to want to play football. That hope, that incredibly small glimmer of hope, was shattered into a thousand pieces last night when Gianluca Rocchi blew the final whistle in the Karaiskákis Stadium.
Many fans, myself included, saw last night as the point of no return for David Moyes. The team, sauntering around the pitch, failed to close down and challenge an Olympiakos side who, albeit incredibly good at home, should never have posed a threat to a team like Manchester United. The problem is, they did. Manchester United made Olympiakos feel like they were the team to be feared.
The last point has been one of the major issues all season, repeated over and over again by bloggers, journalists and pundits. The fear factor has disappeared. The only team, this season, who have seemed remotely scared of Manchester United were Leverkusen, and look what happened. The fans were blessed with a rare, exciting performance under David Moyes.
The defeats against Newcastle, West Brom, Everton and so forth exemplify this. Something needs to change.
I think I speak for the vast majority of supporters when I say that last night really hurt. Just like breaking a leg, watching your favoured team collapse in front of you is painful.
The players look like they have given up on their manager and last night felt like a message. The Champions League was the last straw for Manchester United fans to clutch at and Olympiakos got to it first to help them take their own victory sip. Even Van Persie, normally as relaxed as they come, vented a bit of frustration after the match, stating that other players were getting in his way and were hindering his game. Whether this was a dig at Moyes’ tactics or at his teammates, it’s not exactly clear, but it shows how low the morale is in Manchester United’s dressing room.
Sacking Moyes now seems like the easy way out. I wrote a piece after the Swansea defeat in the FA Cup on this very website asking for fans to stay behind David Moyes and support him whilst he is here, but I would be lying if I said that, since then, the thought of him leaving hadn’t crossed my mind.
Getting rid of Moyes before the West Brom game would certainly go against everything the club has said over the past year about giving the new manager time. The lack of eligible candidates to replace him is also a problem. Many have suggested Heynckes. Unfortunately, the former Borussia Mönchengladbach striker has retired from football after leaving on a high and would be foolish to taint such a perfect ending to a managerial career by helping Manchester United try and reach 5th in the Premier League.
The only realistic and eligible option is Hiddink, but with the club, barring a miracle in the return leg at Old Trafford, already on its way out of the Champions League, there is really nothing left for an interim manager to play for. Whether the club gets a Europa League spot or not is not something many Manchester United fans care about and, let’s be honest, it would probably hinder next season a fair bit.
If Moyes is to leave, the summer is the best time. The season will be over and other managers will be more willing to leave their current clubs and try and be the one to turn things around at one of the greatest football clubs in the world.
Moyes is not entirely to blame for this season’s failures (Elijah’s very good piece from a week or so ago analyses how problems at the club go a lot deeper than just the manager), but it does seem like the Scotsman has come in and become some sort of Wreck-It Ralph. The lack of Fix-It Felixes out there means that all we can do is hope that Moyes manages to end the season on a good vein of form and let the club analyse this season with plenty of time to make a level-headed decision in the summer.
They say patience is a virtue. Well, it seems now has come the time to become very virtuous.
United should Boycott the Europa League
In the 1972 Olympics a cold war grudge match was fought on the basketball court. An unbeaten USA team teeming with NBA stars faced off against the might of an experienced USSR side.
At the end of the game, in highly controversial circumstances, victory went to the Soviets. Now I know little to nothing about basketball so won’t try to explain the complex rulings that led to this situation, but I know this much, the USA refused to accept their silver medals. It’s the most high-profile refusal of an award I know of, and the lack of class and sportsmanship displayed was remarkable.
Rooney new contract: A costly mistake
It leaves me feeling angry and confused that the proud nation of France is so often cruelly stereotyped as too willing to cave in to strong willed aggressive personalities with unreasonable demands. Context be damned as judgments are laid down condemning the ease with which Robespierre, Kaiser Wilhelm, et al imposed their will on the Gallic populace. How sad then that my pod-brother Frenchy has backed Manchester United to act in just such a fashion. How can such a talented young football writer possibly support signing up to five more years of the Rooney Stretford circus? He’s wrong. Here is why.
Rooney new contract: Keeping your best asset
If you really don’t want Rooney to stay at the club, I suggest you stop reading now and head over to Tom’s piece on the matter.
Many will agree with Tom and will refuse to accept the reasons why Manchester United have decided to give Wayne Rooney, more commonly known by haters as “The Evil Scouse Backstabber”, a new contract. However, I know there are some out there who will understand why the current Premier League champions, currently lying in 7th and 11 points behind 4th, want to keep one of their most important players.
United Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Frost’s opening stanza of ‘The Road Not Taken’ refers to a sensation that can be clearly attributed to the rumblings of discontent often reverberating around Old Trafford. Even Manchester United fans with the most pessimistic outlook on things would not have foreseen the turgid displays and disheartening league position that has unravelled hitherto. The man presiding on the managerial helm spoke of his surprise of the current occurrence, after 14 of his players once again managed to fail to attain 3 points with the most apologetically disgraceful performance of all season, against Fulham. “His Waterloo moment”, Miguel Delaney of ESPN claimed. Every facet of failure exemplified to the nth degree – the incessant crossing, failure to vary the play and lapses of concentration that led to the men in red trudging down the tunnel with their head hung in shame, after the referee signalled the end of the game with his blast of the whistle.
A Point Gained or Two Points Dropped?
Last night saw Manchester United settle for a hard-fought point at the Emirates, a result that leaves United 11 points adrift of their Champions League qualification target and 8 points short of a Europa League Place. As David Moyes might see it as a point gained, others may view it as 2 points dropped. There was plenty of attacking flair from both sides as the match reached its climax but neither could break the deadlock and, in truth, the game suffered due to both manager’s negative tactics throughout.
Still, United now jet off to sunnier climates for some warm weather training before the club’s next Premier League game against Palace. A trip that should prepare the squad amply for an end to the season that may well determine the future of the Manager and a chunk of the playing squad.
Could the end be nigh for David Moyes?
A question I never expected to consider when Alex Ferguson annointed David Moyes to be his successor. Although I was hardly head over heels at the appointment it seemed to make sense. Half a year on and I regret to say that it seems a mistake.
My biggest fear with David Moyes was whether he would be out of his depth. A lack of success against superior opposition and a reputation for negative tactics were cause for concern but by and large the positives seemed to outweigh the negatives. His achievements on meagre resources were impressive and crucially he seemed more likely than some more illustrious candidates to promote youth from within. In addition, he came across as a dignified, hard working man who would buy into the values of the club rather than his own hype.
Why Reds are right to criticise Moyes.
When directing the movie Se7en, David Fincher wanted constant oppressive rain to reflect the unpleasant, pessimistic character of the city in which the grim events took place. One of the few good things about 2014 has been to remind me to watch the film for the first time in years. What prompted this desire to revisit a modern twist on the classic film noir? Manchester United of course.
Let me explain; ever since 2014 turned up in Britain it has done nothing but rain. I exagerrate of course, but the overall feeling is that this is a damp, miserable period with no end in sight. Weather forecasts only bring more dismal news and the feeling is very much that things could even get worse before we start to enjoy happier times. If David Fincher was directing a film about United under David Moyes then this is the weather he would choose.
It was fitting that our latest nadir came in the proverbial wet and windy climes of Stoke. A team of cumudgeonly clods, overseen by a man adored as a player yet deplored as a manager. The easily spinnable response of our manager ‘I don’t know what we have to do to win’ represented a fitting end to a wretched few weeks.
This a difficult time to be a Red. Our players look lost, our manager and coaching staff appear at a loss, and as fans we simply don’t know how to respond. Rival fans understandably relish our demotion from Superman to Clark Kent. We must appear pathetic to be bemoaning a position in which most football clubs would be happy, yet over the past two decades we have been anything but ‘most’ football clubs. Success had become a set routine and the disruption to that norm has felt like being thrown into a maelstrom. A panoply of coping mechanisms have been in evidence amongst supporters; ‘this was inevitable when Fergie left’(it wasn’t), ‘the players are entirely to blame’ (they aren’t), ‘the manager is entirely to blame’ (he isn’t), and my personal favourite – ‘real fans wouldn’t criticise the manager.’
Let’s take this last point, as I have been on the receiving end of such garbage from more than one person after voicing disappointment at losing a third of our league games thus far. This argument is foolish and dangerous. It is advocating ignorance. The idea that in difficult times we should abandon critical analysis and blindly ‘stand by the leader’ simply doesn’t hold water. To pick an example from elsewhere; following the devastating attack of 9/11 the prevailing mood in the United States was to back the President’s every whim or face being labelled a traitor. What we got in response was two catastrophic wars and the Patriot Act; hundreds of thousands of unneccessary deaths and the restriction of civil liberties in the world’s foremost democratic state. Clearly football pales in comparison to something as serious but the point still stands; critical analysis is the answer not the problem. Not booing, not calling for the manager’s head, but articulating when and why you’re dissatisfied with the approach being taken.
Those in power should always be scrutinised and held accountable. As manager of Manchester United, David Moyes is clearly in a position of power. The personel selected and the strategy deployed is the will of the manager. As our manager David Moyes has plainly failed to carry out these requirements effectively. I’m not suggesting it is a lack of effort but the brutal truth is that since becoming manager of Manchester United there is precious little evidence that the new man is equipped to succeed in the job. He might succeed in time and having backed his appointment at the time I dearly hope he does. Yet so far the football has been archaic. If we don’t object, if we acquiesce and allow such dire football to go without censure then we forfeit our right to complain when it becomes our standard approach.
When making an appointment you set targets and evaluate performance against those targets at an agreed time. No doubt performance will be reviewed in the summer but any final judgment will not come in this calendar year. Several players will go and several others arrive before any decision is made to remove Moyes. I am reminded repeatedly that this isn’t ‘his’ team and he should be given time to mould a side reflecting his own footballing ideals and philosophy. All of which is fine; except for the fear that based on what we’ve seen so far this could at best mean a line up more effective at executing the ‘get it wide, get it in’ approach that has seemed our default strategy all season despite the dismal results it has garnered.
I am not saying Moyes should be fired imminently – it would be a worrying precedent for our club to be so trigger happy, yet unless clear signs of progress emerge by this time next year then it would be just as worrying a precedent to accept mediocrity through some misguided sense of blind loyalty. I really want Moyes to succeed and haven’t given up hope that he will. However I’m not willing to accept truly abject football as a necessary price to pay in the meantime. Trophies soon become statistics but what made the Ferguson era so special was the thrilling moments of exciting football. For the majority of his reign he carried on the Busby mantra of football to entertain the people. Moyes would be wise to remember that. Maybe then we will start to see signs that the rainy season is coming to an end.
An Ode to Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira
He’s gone… He’s really gone.
After many years of frustrating the masses of United fans around the world, the January transfer window finally saw our beloved Brazilian, Anderson, leave Manchester for pastures new. His destination? Florence and Fiorentina. To many this is a cause for celebration and mockery aplenty, however, I can’t feel anything other than a sense of disappointment for our Ando and his career at Old Trafford.