This is not a reactionary article. This is not a knee-jerk response to recent events, a hyperbolic statement of concern. These are opinions that I’ll stick with for years to come.
David Moyes arrived at Manchester United with a whole new world in front of him, a massive opportunity, the greatest he’ll ever have. His future was decided years ago, chosen by Ferguson as the man that he trusts the most to keep his Titanic afloat. ‘Back your manager’ were the words that resonated from Fergie’s mouth at his farewell appearance as United manager. More eyes are looking at him than ever before. More hopes are pinned on his tenure than ever before.
What is the situation now for David Moyes? Well, much the same really. Millions of glass-eyed United fans are staring at him for results, expectations seem to be humungous but it’s taking time to click. Fans can be quite reactinary nowadays, but nobody has condemned him to the sack this early (nor is there a case for such condemnation anyway).
It takes time, they say; it took time before and it will take time now. Comparisons are being drawn out between Ferguson and Moyes already: players used, formations, tactics, even press conferences. A picture of the defeated manager against West Brom, the focus directed to the object that shadows him, the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, says it all.
What Sir Alex Ferguson did in Manchester was exceptional, and it will never be replicated again. Ferguson entered United in 1985, when they were shadowed by the great bolstering club of Liverpool, right in the middle of their glory years. It took five years after his appointment for him to claim his first prize, the 1990 FA Cup, and from then on, glorious prizes became a commodity at United. 27 years, 38 trophies.
However, times have changed since 1985, since the ‘glorious 90s’, as it has been dubbed the Red fans. Managers at the highest level are not given time to prove their worth. Clubs don’t evolve over a period of 5 years, nor do clubs slowly sink into relegation. Football today is about instant success, revolutions and powerful owners.
You merely need to look at United’s neighbours for proof of how much times have changed. Manchester City had a revolution in 2007, very much overnight when they signed Robinho for £32.5million, a Premier League record. Four years later, they beat United in the FA Cup semi-final, going on to beat Stoke in the final. The year after that, they pipped United to the title by goal difference.
Money dictates the game nowadays, not tactics, not individual talent, not a winning mentality. In my eyes, Ferguson was the last remnant of football before the inflated market.
For David Moyes, expectations dictate that he will have to match or come near to matching Alex Ferguson’s tenure. This will be an expectation he will never fulfill. This is because money has such a sphere of influence on football, that the only way Moyes can bring glory to United is by spending huge amounts, matching his rivals. Not at one point in Ferguson’s tenure has there been spending revolutions akin to the blue side of Manchester.
Moyes is not an idealist, a manager with a tactical mentality, a style of football. He keeps a ship afloat; Everton is proof of that. So his individual mind cannot drive United solely to glory.
I am not condemning Moyes to absolute failure. He will be given a minimum of three years at United in my opinion. Moyes will never move away from the casting shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson. It is too big, too sublime. This would be the case for almost any manager. In this, Moyes’ job is a poisoned chalice.
The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand dominates Old Trafford. It is the foundation of their Theatre of Dreams. It is perfection. David Moyes is, and will always be, belittled by its grandeur. The long climb down from this summit has begun for Manchester United. I hope they are prepared.