After another record breaking week for Manchester United, their first ever loss in Greece, some are starting to question the clubs capabilities. The premier league champions have been more than disappointing this season currently sitting in 6th 15 points off of the top and 11 points away from a champion’s league qualifying place leading many to question what has gone wrong? Is it the manager? The players? Or was the Fergie effect just that good?
In this day and age too readily are managers given the chop without a second thought given to whether it was right or wrong. If there are a few bad games for a big club the manager tends to part ways with the team. One only has to look at Chelsea to see the ruthlessness shown by owner Roman Abramovich when it comes to managers and, rather unfortunately for the game, this style has brought a lot of success to the club. With this in mind it would have been easy for the Glazer family, the majority shareholders at Manchester United, to question Moyes’ position in the team as early as November of this season. If this were a Chelsea or Manchester City team I could not see this kind of patience from the board. Yet Moyes is still in a job and I honestly believe that this is the right decision for United in going forward, everyone knows the story of how Moyes’ predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson was just a few games away from losing his job during his first season but was given time from which he then went on to be one of the best managers in footballing history. I’m not saying that the same thing will happen in the case of David Moyes. There is no doubting that he excelled in his position at Everton building a very good side on a shoe string budget but, United are a whole new beast. The Red Devils are arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world and to suggest someone could waltz in and take over without a single hitch is ludicrous, not only does one have to cope with the pressure of being expected to win every game played but, the history and personalities that are affiliated with the brand Manchester United is something that not many other teams in the world have. It is something that one needs time to grow into.
Further to this, to be brutally honest the United side that won the league last year was possibly the worst side to win the league in premiership history. United were the best or at least the most organised of a bad bunch, Chelsea really should have been crowned champions with the squad they possessed but they were to occupied with a war between themselves and the fans. The difference is this season the top teams have brought in real quality whereas United’s transfers have left somewhat to be desired. No one can doubt the strength in going forward, Rooney , Van Persie and Mata upfront is an incredible trio, so why are they losing games? Well, the problem has been plain to see from the very word go. The Manchester United defence is too old. A team needs experience, yes, but when three of your back four is the wrong side of 30 question marks as to their ability to keep up with the best league in the world must be raised. I have no managerial qualifications but if I can plainly see it why has nobody at Manchester United thought to act on this, they have Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both defenders that either do not play are play out of position i.e. Jones in the midfield, would it not be better to partner him with an experienced centre back like Vidic?
The one thing that most impressed me about Sir Alex Ferguson was that even though he brought superstars to Old Trafford he always managed to keep them in check with the belief that no player is bigger than the club, any player that got too big for their boots soon departed. On more than one occasion Fergie let go of real talent because they were affecting team dynamic for example David Beckham or even his footballing son Cristiano Ronaldo. For decades this has been the key to Manchester United’s success, now this season this mantra seems to be under threat. Wayne Rooney has this week signed one of the most lucrative deals in the history of the sport to keep him at the club until effectively the end of his playing career, seemingly good news. Alternatively the fact that the astronomical figure of £300,000 a week has been forked out (that’s about 50P a second if you are interested) to keep him at the club is questionable. Rooney has been linked with a move away in every transfer market for years now, every summer and January it causes massive disruptions to his team mates bringing unwanted spotlight on the team. Ultimately however keeping Rooney in red is surely a positive he has been an incredible servant to the club his infamous strike partner may be becoming exactly the sort of person Ferguson would not have stood for.
Robin Van Persie is reported to have said to a Dutch newspaper after the Reds defeat on Tuesday night that other players were ‘getting in his way’. Obviously Van Persie is the best footballer in the world and played his heart out in the Olympiakos game and was denied the victory he so thoroughly deserved because of everyone else on his team and nothing to do with him at all… This is exactly the sort of behaviour that a club doesn’t want to see. When players turn on one another the season is all but over.
If things are to turn around for Manchester United, Moyes is going to have to show some serious leadership and stage an enormous overhaul. Fresh blood will have to be brought in and potentially some big names will have to leave. As I’ve already said I think the manager is not the problem, he can and will be great if given time the real problem this season has simply been Man United are just not good enough.