David Moyes – The Error of an Era
I would like to remind you this club stood by me in bad times, the players and the staff. Your job now, is to stand by the new manager” – Sir Alex Ferguson
As Ferguson stepped down as boss of Manchester United at his final home again at Swansea, in May 2013, his words of wisdom echoed throughout Old Trafford as fans, reeled by tears and awe, pledged their undying support for the new man – David Moyes.
Stepping into Ferguson’s shoes was never going to be easy. The Scotsman had established a reputation that was built on more glory than any manager on earth could manage. Manchester United football club was part devil, part Sir Alex. The trophy room was a museum of grandeur and modern day excellence. Ferguson might have arrived Stretford End looking like a sailor who was down on his luck., but as he stepped down from the helm of one of the world’s most successful clubs, he did so…a captain, whose tales will never be forgotten.
As Moyes walked through the doors held open by his predecessor, surely he did not think that things would ease into place as if the spellbound effect left by Ferguson would eternally blind the management and staff. On July 1, 2013, following Moyes’ appointment as Manchester United manager, the focus and headlines shifted from awws and sad faces to hawkeyed shrewdness and expectations that dwarfed Everest. Moyes was in for a long rough ride…he knew it, Ferguson knew it, the world knew it and everyone waited and watched.
Several incidents that followed Moyes’ appointment should have set of alarm bells in the heads of the Glazers and Sir Alex himself, however the key moments that drove different nails into the younger Scotsman’s coffin included:
The Transfer Season Debacle
If Arsenal’s transfer season is usually a comedy of errors, Manchester United’s adventure into the transfer circle, under Moyes, was simply nothing short of ludicrous. Rejection after rejection was followed by failed bids. Notable (and laughable) amongst these included Thiago Alacantra whose transfer saga tethered on completion till his “surprise surprise” move to Bayern Munich. Revelation that he was never contacted was the icing on a farce-ridden cake. Cesc Fabregas bid was the joke of the transfer season, however the fool’s crown was the dilly dally around Belgian, Marouane Fellaini that saw the club spend well over his release clause than anticipated.
15 Defeats and a dead man’s chest
The 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford, the first since 1978, set up a long line of face slapping defeats that came and went throughout the entire season. This came fast on the back of defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool – who would go on to do the double against the bitter rivals. With every defeat, reddening records were created and Ferguson’s colossal legacy was dismantled to bits. The latest and surely the last nail in the coffin, was the Everton defeat at Goodison Park, the management had seen and endured enough.
Those who knew and played under Ferguson, knew better than to cross him – ask Heinze, Beckham, Keane, the crème of football, axed by a gaffer who took no nonsense. However shows of dissent were becoming standard affairs at Old Trafford as the younger players like Smalling and Young were getting fines for gross misconduct and the older player just stared on blandly.
Various other odds were always stacked against Moyes, even though his deft diplomacy was applauded as he was able to pull Rooney back into the club and settle the dust of speculation, his relationship with majority of the squad raised unanswered questions.
Moyes was simply unable to manage the size of a club so large and half the time looked even more confused than a kid at a candy factory. His nerve cracked during games that United were used to winning comfortably and United struggled through every game of the season even the eventual comfortable wins. Fans who are largely made up of young people who grew up knowing Manchester United to be synonymous with victory, grew impatient and a plane carrying a banner that called for Moyes’ sack said it all.
The disrespect shown by his former club during what became his final game showed just why he had to leave and the announcement on Tuesday morning was welcomed with more sighs of relief than grief.
Manchester United will now turn to Ryan Giggs to see off the rest of the season as they look to build a season, knowing that they might have just thrown away 10 months destroying a legacy that took careful planning. I know for certain that the new manager won’t sail smoothly into a trophy-laden season and whatever fairytale existed around United’s tradition of long term managers is certainly all but washed off by now. As reality sets in slowly up North, the bookies are already romping up suitable replacements and creating wild pandemonium in the press.
For many, sacking Moyes was a decision that came a little to late and for some, possibly a small section, the words of Ferguson over a microphone on May 12, 2013 rings guilt in their hearts – …the club stood by me in bad times, players and staff. Your job now…is to stand by your new manager.