When former Everton boss David Moyes was chosen as the ideal replacement for his Scottish counterpart at Manchester United, very few expected the most successful English club to be champions for the twentieth time in his maiden season in charge. Yet, fewer fans expected the club to be in a state as dismal as they find themselves to be in presently.
It’s hardly a surprise that the fans were realistic in their expectations from the new manager, a highly untested one with a vacant trophy cabinet to flaunt, after Fergie decided to hang up his boots. They were staring at a football manager who spent the better part of his career in charge at Goodison Park, stringing together results with infinitesimal finances from the board to guide the club to mid table finishes every season. ‘Loyalty’ that he has shown towards the merseyside club has been a riding factor when Sir Alex did the picking, after he was bestowed with the complete authority to choose his successor to the throne.
Fans at the Stretford End do not have a short memory; they clearly remember the doldrums beset at Old Trafford following Matt Busby’s departure until the club finally found Sir Alex Ferguson. The former Aberdeen boss had a rather tormenting start to his career and it was not before his third season, that he finally led the club to domestic glory.
Sir Alex Ferguson, for what he has achieved at the club and with it, has found himself being put in elevated pedestals by the fans in the red half of Manchester. So, when he asked the fans to stick by the new boss, they obeyed!
So, what exactly has gone wrong that the fans are now worried enough to question the very basis of David Moyes’ appointment as the manager? Although, it would be grossly unfair to pin the entire blame on Moyes, he would have to take the most of it for his rather callous and confused statements to the press from time to time.
Despite the failure to keep the majority of Ferguson’s backroom staff at the club which saw Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele leave the club in the summer only to be replaced by the inexperienced likes of Phil Neville and Steve Round, it was his inability along with Ed Woodward’s to find any replacement for the retired Paul Scholes in the transfer market that led fans to question his credentials to attract top stars. More so, the purchase of Marouane Fellaini at the very last moment of the summer window was widely criticized as most felt he would hardly fit into our system and was quickly tagged as a ‘panic buy’.
The winter transfer window was always going to be something by which both Moyes and Woodward would be judged by the supporters. And with Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata completing his switch for a club record fee, optimism was restored among the fans; not for long, however!
United’s dismal showing in the later part of 2013 and early January was highly attributed by the club hierarchy, loyalists and critics to the absence of key personnel through injuries. There was a growing feeling within the club that the return of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and the arrival of another top class footballer might just galvanize the entire team and provide the much needed impetus to finish the season on a respectable note. Juan Mata was just the kind of player that the doctor prescribed for the club as well as for the fans.
However, the team succumbed to their first ever defeat to Stoke at the Britannia stadium since 1984 despite the strike trinity of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata starting alongside each other. This begets the question, now what David Moyes?
What was more surprising from the United manager was his cluelessness about the team’s performance and the result. “It was a good performance, we just did not take our chances,” he said in the post match interview to Sky. “Overall, I think we played well.”
The contradiction in that statement was so vehement and prominent that it has the potential to leave the United boss embarrassed. How could you possibly defend your team which failed to manage a point against Stoke after having fielded the best eleven at your disposal? How could you defend your team having managed to produce just five crosses into the box out of the thirty three times they went by the touchline? How could you explain your inexplicably absurd statement wherein you made your state of mind public by saying, “I do not know what we have to do to win” ?
The knives are out already, they have always been. The critics would be flashing them harder now across his face; every single team would feel that they have a fair chance of getting all the points against United. The nineteen time champions are highly vulnerable at this moment and their manager is not doing much to improve the situation either.