Tuesday, 15 April 2014

10 reasons why David Moyes won't be sacked
Sir Alex Ferguson's departure at the end of last season and David Moyes' appointment as his successor opened the door to a new phase in the club's history. Hand-picked by Sir Alex as a manager with over a decade's Premier League experience with similar ethos, Moyes faced an unimaginable task of  filling the boots left by the greatest British manager ever, who had been at the helm for almost 27 years at United. A few very unrealistic fans expected Moyes to just carry on and instantly win titles, play nice football and quickly attract big players to Old Trafford. But many objective fans, pundits and even the board at United knew that the new manager is not inheriting a "bed of roses." We all knew that he needed time to introduce his own ideas, learn the club's traditions, his players strengths and weaknesses, build his own team and be his own man. Very few expected him to win the Champions' League or even the Premier League, but many optimists expected him to win either the FA or the Carling Cup. This was never to be, which has left most supporters in utter frustration. Out of all competitions well before the end of the season, Champions League qualification for next season looking a very distant dream, losing at home to the likes of Newcastle, West Brom, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City and Everton, Vidic's fore concluded departure, Van Persie's reported frustration, the decline in player performances which has left United looking very ordinary, to mention but a few. We knew it was not going to be easy, but I'm sure no one expected it to get as bad as it did. The media has been so quick to speculate Moyes's impending axing, with allegations that United officials held a secret meeting with the Netherlands' coach Louis Van Gaal, and then there has been talk of the Dortmund Manager Jurgen Klopp as topping the board's list of potential replacements. But apart from the media speculation, there has been no indication at the club that Moyes is going anywhere yet. And I would be very surprised if "the chosen one" got sacked this season, and here is why.

1. United's tradition of managerial longevity. By offering a six year deal to Moyes, the United board made a statement that unlike Chelsea, City, Liverpool, Sunderland and so on, United believes in stability and longevity. They were prepared for the challenges of the probable declining standards associated with the change of guards (especially considering Moyes' inexperience at the big stage). And it's because of this that the board's decision to sack the manager can only come as the last resort. At the end of the season, I'm sure the board will analyse the situation; looking at the manager's failures and why, as well as assessing his achievements. And an objective analysis will give Moyes some sort of benefit of doubt, plus time to prove himself.

2. Failures in the transfer market cannot entirely be blamed on Moyes. One of the major reasons that United has steadily slid from prominence this season is the failure in the summer transfer season, vis a vis the ageing squad. Players like Giggs, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick and Fletcher have all lost something big in their game due to their ripening age, hence the necessity to strengthen. The failure to lure United's transfer targets, notably Gareth Bale, Christiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas, Fabio Contrao, Ander Herrera and Leighton Baines meant that Moyes had to fight with his hands tied, right from the onset. All teams like Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and Man City significantly strengthened, yet most of them already had arguably better squads. It takes a great optimist to expect Moyes to instantly hit the ground running. But why then didn't Moyes strengthen? The answer is that he wanted to. Then why didn't he? He needed time to assess his new players, know who fits in his plans and who doesn't. This made him go for high profile targets like Ronaldo, Bale and Fabregas. Why did he fail miserably? It's because of the powers of the clubs involved (Real Madrid and Barcelona). Then why didn't he go for the likes of Kevin Strootman or Thiago Alacantara? It was partially because of the inexperience ofthe new Chief Executive - Ed Woodward, and Moyes himself in United's transfer market. What about the January transfer window? He signed Juan Mata, which was a great coup to pull off. And why did he sign a flop in Marouan Fellaini? A few United fans will argue that United never needed a Fellaini. But we all know that we needed a strong, aggressive towering figure in the middle of the pack, and Fellaini fits the bill. He played well for Everton, he plays well for Belgium and he will surely play well for United. Not many objective analysts will blame Moyes for signing Fellaini. The board will look at this and give the manager the time he deserves.

3. United players let down their  manager. Moyes' sweeping changes in the back-room staff, tactics, as well as his militaristic training methods  left some players less impressed, disgruntled, frustrated and under-performing. This explains Van Persie's declining standards, injuries, press utterances (in which he has questioned Moyes' tactics) and the reported friction between the two. Apparently, Van Persie was saddened not only with Sir Alex's departure but also Rene Meuleensten's resignation (a man Moyes asked to stay on but turned the offer down). Van Persie blamed Moyes' intensive training methods for his injuries. Understandably, being a player in the evening of his career without much in terms of accolades, his frustration also stemmed from Moyes' managerial credentials giving no indication for instant success. He wasted a lot of time at Arsenal, he came to United to win, and that's no longer the case. In his heart of hearts, Ferdinand despised Moyes for a similar reason, and I would be very surprised if his contract is renewed for another year, inspite of his public appeal. He was the first player to complain about Moyes' weaknesses, and failure to inform players in time about their involvement in games so they could prepare. He went public! We cannot tell how much of an effect this had on the dressing room, but we all witnessed was declining standards on the pitch, with Old Trafford becoming a "theatre of nightmares"! Vidic chose to swap camps in the middle of the season! All these surely affect the psychology of players. They felt that "the ship is sinking" and it was so hard to stay motivated. Anderson, his poor attitude, bad eating habits, laziness, injuries and inconsistencies also took away so much from United's season. His move to Italy on loan and his frequent negative utterances also took their toll on the psychology of our men on the pitch. But instead of the board blaming Moyes for the declining performances, they will give him chance to sweep out the likes of Ferdinand, Vidic and Anderson, solve the Van Persie situation, sign new players, allow his tactics and training methods to sink in and achieve stability.

4. Most of United's losses and draws have had narrow margins. If you remember losses to West Brom, Newcastle, Everton, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Liverpool at Anfield, draws against Cardif, Tottenham at White Hart Lane, Southampton, Arsenal at Emirates etc, you will realise one thing in common. United was on most occasions the better team, and much of it was bad luck, besides the inadequate player commitment. The board will look at this and give Moyes time to put things right.

5. Moyes' inadequate preparation for his role. Being a manager without experience in managing at such a big stage, Moyes needed time to understand the Manchester United way; the traditions, style, elegance, size of the club, managerial responsibilities, players, change his mentality of "not losing", to "winning," and take a rest, relax. Pep Guardiola benefited from his year-long rest spell in Califonia before he started his Bayern job, yet Moyes needed this even more than Pep. Moyes' talk is still that of a pessimist. He is yet to have a winning mentality. But he will. The board will understand this and grant him time.

6. Brendan Rodgers' success at Liverpool will serve as further justification. Last season Liverpool finished 7th, the same positiotion United occupies at the moment, yet they're now top of the table, with four games to go.

7. The presence of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton on the United board. Those two figures are known for their patience, insight, foresight and influence. We all remember Fergie's patience with players like Fletcher, Evans, Ronaldo, Evra, Rafael, Vidic and Berbatov. Those players made mistakes that cost united games and titles, yet Sir Alex continued with his faith in them, and they eventually came good. Had it been the likes of Mourinho, such players could have quickly been thrown out of the window. Do you really think Feigie will turn his back on Moyes at this moment in time? Better think again.

8. There a lot of positives to pick from Moyes' short managerial spell. United currently hold the best away record in the English Premier League this season. United reached the quarter finals of the Champions League, and Moyes' tactics were working, not until Evra started sleeping, allowing Robben to tear us apart! Had Evra done better against Robben, I still think United would have overcome the current best club in the world over two legs to reach the semi finals. Besides, we played some of the best football in the Champions League, defeating Bayer Leverkusen by an emphatic 5-0 in Germany, our best away record in more than 50 years. Moyes also solved the Rooney problem. We all agree that there not many complete footballers in the esque of Rooney in the world today, and having him on our side is a great bonus. Inside sources at Old Trafford indicate that Moyes has done a lot of ground work behind curtains. He has been brave enough to believe in his methods, tactics, principles, staff, and he has generally been his own man. Failures in the transfer window did not push him into panic buys, all his policies and programs indicate a future oriented manager who is laying his ground. The board is not blind.

9. Moyes still has the dressing room. The recent failures have left many players demotivated and hurting. They're not used to losing. Some have individually expressed their frustrations - notably Ferdinand and Van Persie, but majority have stood with the manager. They understand the situation, and they know that this pain is temporary. They believe in him, and they're willing to work with him. Conversely, had Moyes lost the dressing room, it was going to be very difficult for the board to grant him time.

10. Majority of United supporters have not denounced Moyes. When a small clique of discontented fans organized a plane to fly over Old Trafford with a banner advocating for Moyes' sacking, the players responded with a decent win over Aston Villa, and the fans were ecstatic in their support of "the chosen one." If the players and fans can understand the situation and support Moyes, what makes anyone think that the board won't?

It's clear therefore that just like Sir Alex Ferguson was given time (3 years to win his first trophy), Moyes will be supported to continue with his rebuilding project. It's however painful to see Liverpool at the helm, and Moyes' former side - Everton pushing for the top four, yet we're grappling with Europa League qualification! We never expected to get here, but we're hopeful that we shall get out. Moyes will take us out. He will get time, and he will succeed.