Has David Moyes Been Over-Promoted?
In the simplest terms, the Peter Principle is a management theory which suggests that organisations risk filling management roles with people who are incompetent if they promote those who are performing well at their current role, rather than those who have proven abilities at the intended role.
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.
“Your job is to stand by your new manager”
It’s funny. As I stood in the stands at Old Trafford after that game against Swansea, cheering the words of our departing manager, I also heard a roar of appreciation synonym to “We will, Sir Alex, we promise”.
7 months later, here we are: 7th in the league & knocked out of in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. No one said it would be easy, but no one said it would be this hard. Those words are probably going round and round in David Moyes’ head right now.
As Manchester United collapsed to a, let’s be perfectly honest, abject Swansea performance, David Moyes sat in the dugout, head in hands, looking bereft of confidence. Who can blame him? 4 losses in the last 6 home games. Such a run is bound to strip any manager from their self-belief.
At the tender age of 23, all I’ve known as a Manchester United fan is success. As a Manchester United fan, all I want is success. Sadly, this isn’t happening at the moment. Why? No one really knows, but the “blame game” has well and truly started. Some will point to the tactics board and tell us that Moyes’ choices are at fault. Some will blame the players and their lack of motivation on the pitch. Some will take a look and curse at the injury table. Some will simply point at Moyes and blame absolutely everything on him. Who is right? I don’t have the answer, but if you want an answer from me, I think it’s a little bit of everything.
Yes, United lack Sir Alex Ferguson, who seemed to have been given a God given gift in motivating good players and making them feel like they were capable of everything. Yes, the players sometimes look half-arsed, showing little to no movement off the ball. Yes, Manchester United have had terrible luck with injuries, and yes, Moyes looking distraught on the sidelines doesn’t help.
The fact that Moyes was offered a 6 year contract in the summer suggests that no matter what happens this season, Moyes will still be there in August 2014 when next season starts. There have been some positives this season. The introduction of Januzaj has given many something to smile about, although this growing reliance on him to make something happen in games has become somewhat worrying. A half-decent cup run in the League Cup and hopeful performances (+ a qualification from the group stage & a kind draw in the 1st knockout round) in the Champions League show that all is not lost.
Manchester United appointed Moyes in hope of long-term success. Long-term success comes with time, but time is something many managers aren’t given enough of. People calling for Moyes to be sacked lack patience, but can they really be blamed? As I’ve stated previously, success is something we’ve all become accustomed to as Manchester United fans. Football is a game of opinions and that is theirs.
It’s refreshing to see that a lot of fans are accepting that this season is one of transition. Some managers like Rudi Garcia at AS Roma have managed to find the perfect solution with the players handed to them. Moyes seems to be needing a bit more time, and it seems he will be given it.
As for transfers, the summer was rather frustrating. I think Moyes was wrong to make certain bids public and the signing of Fellaini, despite being one we all expected, did seem to have been made in panic after many other deals failed to (some rather embarrassingly) materialise. The call to sign players in January is an expected one, but as we have said many times on the podcast on this very site, it’s bad luck that these signings need to be made in a World Cup year. Players will feel that moving clubs could affect their chances of appearing for their respective national teams in Brazil. Had this all happened in 2015, maybe targets would be more willing to move. Performances of their current clubs also come into account. It’s hard to believe that Koke, currently a regular starter in a team posing a serious challenge for La Liga, would want to move to a club in 7th position. Certain targets, like Coentrao, do need a move to play first team football and appear more realistic, but at the end of the day, the responsibility of signing players falls to Edward Woodward and David Moyes. Talking about it on here or on Twitter won’t make them move any faster nor will it influence their decisions.
All we can do as supporters is exactly what is stated in the label given to followers of a certain team: support. This isn’t a piece to call out those that want Moyes out. That is their opinion and I feel obliged to respect it. This isn’t even a piece. It’s just a bunch of thoughts typed on a Word document.
Moyes will be given time, whether fans like it or not. Sir Alex Ferguson’s statement back in May made that extremely clear. The roar I heard when those now famous words were uttered suggested that 70 odd thousand people promised him that they would do exactly that: stand by their new manager.
The problem with that is that it needs to be done for better or for worse, not just for better.
#76 The Moyes Inquest
Unfortunately this week’s episode strikes a more sour tone than usual as we digest the disappointment of two successive defeats at the Theatre of Dreams. In light of recent performances, we take the time to step back and investigate the issues at the heart of our turbulent start to the campaign, looking at the common themes and frustrations that have straddled David Moyes’ debut season. Providing an in depth inquest, be sure to listen in to this week’s podcast now!
Madness of Social Media Era Removes Perspective
They are ten matches unbeaten and only two stoppage time levellers have prevented them from chalking up six league victories on the trot, including a magnificent display of determination and grit to out-battle and defeat the current league leaders. The club are within three points of second place, only require two points from two games to progress from their Champions League group and have safely negotiated two top-flight opponents in the League Cup.
#72 Kieran Richardson’s Art Attack
Bounjour and welcome to the 72nd episode of the Can They Score podcast as we celebrate a successful week on the field of play (relative to the rest of the season) and ponder the impact of Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest money making scheme. Including previews of next week’s game, listen in to the latest podcast now!
Reliving the Treble is a must for all MUFC fans.
Ferguson. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week it you could be forgiven for feeling like our legendary boss never left us. The media circus has been as depressing as it has been predictable. Coverage has centred on feuds; public and private, settled and unsettled. At the risk of sounding like Roy Maurice, it all feels unseemly and unnecessary. Autobiographies are commonly guilty of falling into the Father Ted Golden Cleric approach – ‘you doubted me but look where I am now.’ When it works it can be magnificent (Diego Maradona), but often it leaves an unedifying impression of the writer (Andy Cole). I’m hoping Fergie’s falls into the former category. Of course I will read it – I’m starting it today – but for those of a Red persuasion a potentially more satisfying read may have slipped under your radar.
Daniel Harris will be known to British readers as a writer for the Guardian; most recently drawing acclaim/outrage for an honest/treacherous article raising concerns about Moyes tenure thus far. He secured a place in the hearts of many Reds with his excellent blog turned book account of 2009/10 season. The Manchester United literary genre is saturated with anodyne musings but Harris made his mark by fusing three elements; love for the club, searing honesty and sardonic wit. I loved it, so news of a new tome focusing on the greatest nine months in the history of sport was cause for celebration.
Regular listeners to the pod (hello to the pair of you) will be familiar with my Bill Murray tendencies to wallow in the treble campaign like a hog in wet soil. In ‘The Promised Land’ Harris takes us through that most remarkable of seasons month by month. To dismiss the book as a basic season review would be an injustice but I do think there is a lot to be said for the simple narrative approach. To impose a David Winner style abstract approach would dilute the experience as momentum builds towards the much vaunted climax.
Large tracts of the book are essentially match reports where Harris delights in demonstrating his love of language – passes are ‘tickled’, shots are ‘welted’ and ankles are ‘rapped’ (inevitably by Scholes). A sad casualty of the saturation of football coverage has been the match report. Why pore over written description when you can witness instant visuals on your smart phone? Pleasingly Harris harks back to a simpler time and the book is all the richer for it. My advice is read the book, then relive the action through the Treble DVD.
Shining throughout is the humour inherent in football – and no I don’t mean ‘banter.’ Opportunities are embraced to make not so subtle digs at targets from Martin Tyler to Martin Edwards and everything in between. A healthy contempt for Liverpool football club is ever present. I chuckled at regular rebuttals to lazy myths about profligate Cole and one-trick Beckham.
Arguably the greatest strength of the book is the unashamed love of the club. No attempt is made to appear the impartial football journalist and instead the feeling is of a shared experience with a like mind. The men who redefined what could be achieved in the modern era are rightly held in the highest esteem; yet, with the exception of Keane and Scholes, such reverence never crosses into hero worship. The vanity and egos of Schmeichel, Sheringham and even Ferguson are addressed. There are no sacred cows and I found myself nodding in agreement at condemnation of the vilification of Kidd and Ince.
When covering such a well trodden subject matter the small details become increasingly important and seemingly minor references such as Blomqvist’s self-doubt become the most memorable. A criticism I would make is the failure to elaborate on such matters. An understandable decision to keep momentum I accept, but it left me frustrated that asides such as the complex relationship between Goalkeeper and Captain went unexplored. Other minor complaints exist; it contained more typos and grammatical errors than professional proof-reader scrutiny should allow, the passages pulled from Neville and Keane’s own books risked becoming repetitive, and the references to the current era felt clunky and shoe-horned in. These in no way distract from the impact of the book but as a teacher I can’t let them go without comment.
Overall a brilliant work that places the reader in the thick of the action whilst gaining insight into the foibles and motivations of the actors involved. Given my pride in knowing ‘everything’ about my most treasured season of triumph I was surprised how much I learned without feeling bombarded with trivia. In fact this work is anything but trivial. I would love to hear how younger fans who didn’t experience the season first hand feel about the book. How effective the book is as a first encounter with the events of those unrivalled nine months I cannot evaluate, but as a trip down memory lane it made for a hugely enjoyable week. Now where did I put that DVD….
Don’t take Tom’s word for it – order a copy here
David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson’s United
This summer I had to ask myself a question. A question that had just never occurred to me before. Like many people in their early thirties and younger, I was facing my first season as a Manchester United fan with a new manager. After a solid decade of the gaffer telling people ‘Three more years’ whenever retirement was brought up, the question I had to ask myself was ‘Am I a United fan, or an Alex Ferguson fan?’
The Day That Was Never Supposed To Come
I was sitting in my friend’s car earlier today. We were discussing what the players were referred to by their teammates. He’s a Liverpool fan. We had gone through all the Liverpool players. I started going through the United players. «…Giggsy…Chris…Anders…Chicha..Well, Sir Alex usually called him Chico..». Usually called him. He won’t anymore. Because it’s not his job. Sir Alex Ferguson is no longer manager of Manchester United.
We have all grown up in different circumstances. Some with a huge family with uncles, aunts, grandparents and the solid unit you call your mother and father. Some of us grew up in homes with just a mother or father. Maybe an older sibling. Maybe not. They were people on whom you could always rely. People who would never really go away. Through good times and bad times you’d stand together. United. Many of us grew up with Sir Alex Ferguson. Many of us have never known anything else. Many of us do not wish to know anything else. It would be to replace the reliable unity you formed. It was never a unity you chose to form. It was just the way it became. Sir Alex Ferguson was Manchester United.
The past couple of days have been a rollercoaster. For us all. I have danced through my entire emotional register. I have been heartbroken, I have been angry, I have been hopeful and I have been fearful. I was born in 1992. I have never known anything different than what stands ahead of me. My unity with Manchester United was chosen through a radical Frenchman and a baby faced Norwegian who never looked a day older than 14. Behind them stood this authoriative, proud Scot who didn’t need to gesticulate or make a mockery of himself to get his point across. He would, from time to time, lose his cool. But that was his passion, his heart, his relentlessness. He was a winner and he demanded that they transpired him whenever they stepped on the pitch.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t think about all the trophies he won when I think about the legacy Sir Alex Ferguson leaves at Old Trafford. Sure, he took the club from a fallen giant to the juggernaut of modern football. He made it the biggest and most popular club in the world. But what he did was provide a sense on consistency. You could always rely on Sir Alex Ferguson. You always knew his mentality. His work rate. As the son of a plater’s helper in the shipbuilding industry in Govan his working man’s principles were something we all grew to cherrish. Nothing was done without hard work. Look at the players he created. David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo. Yes, their talent was obvious, but they were a product of hard work. Sir Alex Ferguson’s hard work alongside them. And in the end, we were the ones who benefited. Had I received had a penny for every time I have been told that Manchester United was the only thing that made a person smile, I would now be a millionaire.
And so came the day. The day that was never supposed to come. It happened so quickly. Too quickly. We never got a chance to react. He was just… gone. Sure, the rumours were there. They were there every summer. Every time the league was won, every time the season ended, every time something monumental happened at the club. This was the time for Sir Alex Ferguson to retire. And we laughed. Because we all knew it was untrue. He would never leave us. But, he did. He had won us the league. Number thirteen for him, number twenty for the club. He had knocked Liverpool off their perch. He had regained control of Europe. He had ruled the world. But more importantly, he had conquered all of our hearts. 26 years. 9692 days. And so he’ll ride off into the sunset. Having appointed his favorite deputy to lead the march on. But it will never be the same. We will all support David Moyes. Because he’s one of us now. We who grew with Sir Alex Ferguson, however, will forever have a section of out heart reserved to the greatest of them all. The hairdryer, the red nose, the chewing gum, the glasses, the rants, the smiles, the glory, the triumphs, the sadness, the grief and the anger. But more than ever, the unity. And the years we spent finding sense and normality in comfortably knowing that Sir Alex Ferguson would always be able to make us feel good about ourselves again.
When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer
Thank you for the memories, Sir Alex Ferguson.
#61 Retirement, Bloody Hell!
Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, there’s a sense of sheer panic about this week’s podcast as we convene an emergency meeting to discuss the surprising, but inevitable, departure of the great man. Needless to say, during this week’s Can They Score podcast, we get emotional about the Scotman’s departure!