Ah, February – Cupid’s month. To the lovebirds, it’s a month of bliss, overpriced flower deliveries and empty checking accounts. To the heartbroken, it’s a month of remembering messy breakups, wasted months, and boozing your sorrows away over “what could’ve been”. The latter must be exactly what goes through every Manchester United supporter’s mind when they hear the name, David Moyes.
The man whose presence was welcomed warmly at every Premier League ground not named Old Trafford. The legendary Scotsman who nearly broke as many club records in a ten month span as his predecessor did in twenty-seven years.
- 1st Home loss to Newcastle since 1972
- 1st Home loss to West Brom since 1978
- 1st League loss to Stoke since 1984
- 1st Home loss to Everton since 1992
- 1st Home loss to Swansea EVER
The list goes on really.
Most of us are already familiar with the story. At the helm of a Manchester United side that dominated the Premier League since its inception, stood a tactical guru known to the world as Sir Alex Ferguson. At the time of his retirement in 2013, Sir Alex made it clear that he was going to play a key role in deciding who would replace him as manager of the most decorated club in modern day English football. Instead of going for an established, trophy-winning manager, with experience at a big club – the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Pep Guardiola – Sir Alex and the board at Manchester United decided that his replacement would be his fellow Scotsman, Everton manager, David Moyes.
In all fairness, most would say that Moyes did exactly what was expected of him at Everton. Consistently challenging for a spot in Europe, the Toffees even managed to make an appearance in the FA Cup final in 2009. One year prior to his storied move to Manchester United, David Moyes became just the fourth manager in the history of the Premier League to record 150 wins. But no matter how decent his resume, taking over a club that just won their 20th league title was destined to be a task too big for the former Preston North End defender.
It didn’t take long until the other 19 clubs in the Premier League all had the mentality that United were beatable again.
On April 22nd 2014, David Moyes was relieved of his managerial duties.
His sacking three days before his birthday was probably the most embarrassing thing to happen to a United gaffer since Cesc smacked Sir Alex square in the forehead with a slice of pizza.
In a season that ended with the soon-to-be retired Ryan Giggs as manager, Manchester United, yes THE Manchester United, finished 7th in the Premier League table.
Like all good things, the Moyes-United relationship came to an end.
May 2014 marked the beginning of a new era at Old Trafford. One in which a Dutch, Champions League winning manager spends £150 million on transfers to play one of the best strikers in the Premier League on the right wing.
When Louis Van Gaal was appointed manager of Manchester United it was inevitable that however lengthy his time at the club, his first season would always be compared to that of David Moyes.
The two managers differed tactically, but in terms of results, not so much.
With David Moyes, you knew what you were getting. A very direct game in the 4-4-2 formation, with balls played from all lengths of the pitch into a taller, more physical player. Which is what made Marouane Fellaini and his High School Musical haircut excel with Everton. Louis Van Gaal is a manager that likes to experiment tactically — different formations, shifting players around the pitch, even changing the positions of veteran players. Manchester United have found themselves this season consistently utilizing the unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, which has led to fans chanting “4-4-2” at both home and away games in protest. Most would tell you that Van Gaal is handling the position much better than his predecessor, but after 24 games in charge, Van Gaal’s side has won 12, identical figures to that of David Moyes. The only difference being their positioning in the Premier League table. This year United sit at 3rd, due to a shaky start from the other perennial Champions League place contenders, while the United of 2013/2014 sat outside of the top 4. This continually raises the question, why doesn’t Louis Van Gaal face the same pressures and scrutiny that was placed upon David Moyes?
The answer is simple.
Just like we are in the normal world, footballing professionals are judged heavily on their work experience.
To put this in more relative terms, David Moyes being employed as Manchester United manager was like a shift manager at Nando’s ditching the old deep-fryer to classy it up and manage the Glass House in Kew.
Although Van Gaal is known more for his Champions League win with Ajax than the time he nearly got Barcelona relegated, his complete CV is still one of the best in world football.
Having faced pretty much all of the scrutiny and embarrassment in England that one individual could bear, Moyes did what every British male does after a messy breakup, he went to Spain.
Since his return as a football manager at Real Sociedad, David Moyes has managed to beat Barcelona.
Get friendly with the locals.
And horribly mispronounce the name of not only a player, but club in La Liga.
Whether Manchester United can fully shake the ghost of David Moyes this season, only time will tell, but as of right now, I think it’s safe to say he’s the happier of the two post-divorce.
Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line
The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.
The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.
Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”
The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.
Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.
Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.
From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.
Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.
Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.
Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.
This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.
But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.
In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.
Is a Luke Shaw for Danny Rose swap deal a no-brainer transfer?
Shaw and Rose have both struggled at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, this season.
It looks as though Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw will be leaving Old Trafford this summer. The BBC report the England international will seek an exit after his latest stinging criticism from Jose Mourinho.
Shaw has struggled to win over the Portuguese since Mourinho became United manager. Now it seems the end of the tether has been located and Shaw will make an exit. The 22-year-old, who cost a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £27 million in 2014, will not be short of suitors.
Despite his struggles at Manchester United since suffering a horror leg break, Shaw is considered one of the best young left-backs in the game.
The obvious solution should be clear and for Shaw certainly desired. A move to Tottenham Hotspur must be his wish.
Shaw came through the ranks at Southampton and became an England international under the coaching of Mauricio Pochettino. The pair had a special bond and Shaw has confirmed a desire to work with the Argentine again. He wrote in Guillem Balague’s book Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs, as reported by Sky Sports:
“I do hope that I can play for him again one day. And I think he really wants me to play under him again.
“He used to call me his son, that’s how good our relationship was. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, but when I was with Pochettino it was only ever up, up, up.”
It is a similar relationship to the one many have suggested Pochettino had with his current Tottenham left-back Danny Rose. That relationship, however, has been in decline. After appearing to suggest he wanted a Spurs exit last summer, and after a battle with injury, Rose has become second-fiddle at Spurs to Welshman Ben Davies.
Rose, originally from Leeds, is known to eventually want a return north and Shaw will no doubt love a move south. There is an obvious solution on the cards here.
Manchester United would love to bring in Rose and finally fill their problem position of left-back. Shaw needs to leave Old Trafford for a fresh start to his career. Working under the man he once considered a father figure could be just what he needs.
Shaw to Tottenham and Rose to Manchester United seems a no-brainer. Time will tell if either move comes off for these two players searching for fresh impetus in their careers.
Jose Mourinho should build Manchester United around Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford returned with a bang against local rivals Liverpool on Saturday.
In his first Premier League start since Boxing Day, Marcus Rashford inspired Manchester United to victory over fierce rivals Liverpool. The 20-year-old’s first-half brace was the perfect way to mark his return to the starting XI, which had been confirmed following an injury to Paul Pogba.
Rashford has been a peripheral figure since Alexis Sanchez joined the club in the January transfer window. But, in arguably the biggest fixture on the Premier League calendar, the England international grabbed with both hands a rare opportunity to impress as United moved five points clear of Liverpool.
There was no evidence that Rashford’s prolonged spell out of favour had affected his self-confidence. His first goal was bursting with skill and composure. After latching on to a long ball from Lukaku, Rashford bamboozled Trent Alexander-Arnold before firing past Loris Karius.
Although his second found the net with the aid of a deflection, once again it was a testament to his sharpness. Despite his limited game time, that’s now 12 goals in all competitions this season for the World Cup hopeful.
Rashford’s stunning contribution will certainly give Jose Mourinho food for thought. The Portuguese has regularly picked Pogba, Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard ahead of Rashford of late, in the attacking trio behind Romelu Lukaku.
While Martial and Lingard have justified their selections, the same cannot be said of Pogba, who at times has looked uninterested. Sanchez too has yet to exhibit his best form in a United shirt since joining from Arsenal.
History has taught us that Mourinho rarely excludes his high-profile players, regardless of form. Had Pogba not been sidelined through injury, it is entirely likely Rashford would once again have been forced to watch on from the bench. Consequently, what transpired against Liverpool might have been a mere fantasy.
United have a proud tradition of producing homegrown players and not relying on foreign imports. Look at the treble-winning side of 1999, whose success was founded upon a British core.
Admittedly, the landscape has changed dramatically in the past two decades. The riches of the Premier League mean a club of United’s stature is able to cherry-pick the world’s best players. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. The club’s identity is sacred and, in recent times, United have been in danger of losing theirs.
The fact that Rashford was not signed for £75 million should not preclude him from being United’s centrepiece. As he reminded everyone in his performance against Liverpool, he has all the talent required to be a fixture at the club for years to come.
However, he needs to be playing regular football. A few minutes here and there will not accelerate his development. On the contrary, it could risk one of this country’s most promising starlets becoming an unfulfilled talent.
Rashford offers United something different from his team-mates. He gets supporters off their seats and electrifies the atmosphere thanks to his blistering pace and trickery, which in many ways is a throwback to the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford.
These are qualities not usually associated with Mourinho, who throughout his time in management has always demanded his players to be tactically aware. Rashford is a wildcard, the ace in the pack that can conjure something out of nothing.
Forget Pogba and Sanchez, If Mourinho gives Rashford an extended run in the team, he and United will flourish.
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