David Moyes is the latest scapegoat for the failings of others. Yes, he made mistakes. Not least admitting publicly that the job was more difficult than he anticipated. Can you imagine his predecessor every saying such a thing? No.
The honesty of Moyes was seen as weakness. A character flaw. As it would be by so very many modern employers. How sad. What a shame that someone owning up to their job being a tough one is, in this age when company bosses talk more bollocks than ever, looked upon as a failing. Rather than simply telling the truth.
But if we’re showing people the door for making mistakes, will Sir Alex Ferguson now be ushered away from Old Trafford? After all, it was he who anointed Moyes.
It seemed clear to me that Moyes sensed early on that he had few friends at Old Trafford. Sure, he had the vote of confidence of Sir Alex Ferguson, which counted for a great deal.
Initially at least the fans supported Moyes. But United supporters are notoriously fickle when things go wrong. Some of us are old enough to remember them questioning whether Fergie had taken the team as far as he could. That was before he brought home trophies. To listen to United fans now you’d think they had never called for Fergie’s head. I sat at Old Trafford for matches in the late 1980’s when they did precisely that. I hasten to add that I only did so because a friend played for them. The club finished 11th that season.
Fast forward through countless trophies and several years and Fergie addressed Old Trafford upon his retirement. He said to them: “Your job now is to support David Moyes.” Didn’t last long, did it? Their support.
Let’s get something straight. Ferguson didn’t resign to spend more time with the family. He chose to resign when he did because he knew that squad would not win anything this season. It was only through his sheer will, players being scared of him and the failings of some other clubs that led to United winning the title last season. That and, crucially, the goals of Robin Van Persie. Moyes has not had the benefit of a fit or willing RVP, and now Rooney seems to be equally injury prone.
Ferguson jumped when he did because he knew the Glazer family (pictured above) would not be forthcoming with the funds required if United were to compete with Chelsea and those noisy neighbours across the city.
Had he believed he would receive many millions of pounds in transfer funds, Alex Ferguson would still be manager of Manchester United.
As it was he handed over the keys of his office to the man he had long seen as his natural successor. David Moyes had been the chosen one for years. Now he’s out of a job after less than one full year of his six year contract.
This is what Sir Alex Ferguson says about sacking managers: “It’s a terrible industry. When clubs sack a manager there is no evidence it works. But there is evidence, and it’s hard evidence, that sticking with your manager does work. This is an important issue and it is something I believe in, very strongly. Sacking a manager does not help.”
So there you have it. Having in mind that is Fergie’s opinion, what happens next? Is Ferguson himself at risk of being sidelined? He should be.
Docherty said this morning: “No matter who followed Sir Alex it was an impossible job. It was a lost cause. Moyes had no chance. My choice would be Michael Laudrup.”
Going further back, Wilf McGuiness took his sacking very hard and the upstanding Frank O’Farrell called those who fired him “nasty beggars.”
It’s too easy for us football fans to dismiss the dismissal of Moyes as one that will see his bank balance swell enormously. But do you seriously think that, right now, David Moyes is rubbing his hands together with glee? He will not be. It is more likely he has spent another sleepless night. It’s probable that he is questioning himself and calling himself a failure. He shouldn’t be.
David Moyes is not a failure. Taking on the Manchester United job was a bold move on his part. Not one born of hubris, as some have suggested.
You may have noticed that other would be candidates did not put their heads above the parapet when Fergie announced he was retiring. They were wiser than Moyes. The shrewd ones knew that taking over from Ferguson was a poisoned chalice. Follow that? No thanks.
In a totally different world, that of television, I once took on a job earlier held by a very good and very popular producer. It took three years before colleagues stopped talking about him, praising his every achievement. People would say: “Well Robert wouldn’t have done it that way” or “Are you sure, Robert did it differently” and so on and so on.
Producing live television is a pressurised job. But it doesn’t come close on the scrutiny front when compared to being a top flight football manager. Either way, people have to be given enough time to do the job asked of them. I was. Moyes wasn’t.
David Moyes did not take on a great squad. It was not a job he or anyone else could have walked into, picked up the baton and simply carried on winning trophies.
Will Man Utd fans please wake up and smell the coffee. The squad Fergie left behind is good enough to finish exactly where they will finish this season.
For this season, the next one and who knows how long after that; this is pretty much as good as it gets for Manchester United.
That Moyes has been betrayed by some in the dressing room is beyond doubt. Certain players undermined him. They’ve been leaking tittle tattle to the press daily.
David Moyes didn’t “lose the dressing room.” He never had them on his side in the first place. A spoilt and treacherous bunch.
And those in the boardroom let him down from day one until the last. New Chief Executive Ed Woodward gave Moyes the news of his dismissal. But what was Woodward doing when Moyes handed him his “most wanted” list last summer? He didn’t get one of those players. That led to him panicking and buying Marouane Fellaini. Big mistake.
Even the story of his sacking has been the result of a briefing by more than one person at Old Trafford. Chinese whispers. The news of David Moyes sacking was leaked by the club. Some sports journalists knew before he did. That happens all the time in the modern day working world. But Manchester United should be above that.
Moyes felt unloved in the dressing room and without support in the boardroom. He made the mistake of dismissing the coaching staff who had worked with Ferguson. They could have kept certain players ‘on message.’ But Moyes quickly felt isolated and wanted to surround himself with people he could trust.
I maintain that making the peace with Wayne Rooney was another error of judgement on his part. I would suggest he was “played” by Rooney’s agent – a man I would trust less than Fagin. Moyes should have sold Rooney to Chelsea.
Of course, had he done so, he’d still be facing unemployment now and some people would be citing a Rooney sale as his biggest mistake.
Instead the scribes are saying he was not up to the job in the first place. He wasn’t good enough. He hadn’t won anything. He was out of his depth.
Some of those sports journalists were reporting from Old Trafford in the dark days at the end of the 80’s. When many of them thought the club had made a mistake in hiring Ferguson. Did they then write that Fergie was out of his depth? Or that a Scottish manager wasn’t good enough to manage in England?
We will never know if the Man Utd job was beyond Moyes. The undeniable fact is that he didn’t get long enough to prove otherwise.
And so we come to who will succeed him. Yes, United should have appointed Jose Mourinho last summer. Yes, he wants to manage one of the Manchester clubs. But would he manage United when the Glazer family take money out of the bank account, rather than make deposits for the manager to spend?
I think it’s possible Mourinho was content to swerve taking over directly from his friend Alex Ferguson. He was, after all, Fergie’s second choice.
Mourinho knows that following a manager who is perceived to have failed ensures the next man gets more time to succeed. He rightly thought that following Fergie would be a much more difficult job.
If it is to be Mourinho then certain Manchester United institutions will have to be sidelined in the same way Sir Matt Busby was. Sir Bobby Charlton would have to be silenced. Last summer he said of Mourinho: “We don’t want his type here.”
And were it Mourinho, I think Ferguson would himself step aside.
Whether or not Mourinho is available may come down to how Chelsea progress in the Champions League. But, in his position, would you swap money rich Chelsea for a club owned by people with their hand in the till?
Jose Mourinho would not have won anything at Old Trafford this season. He might have got them into a Champions League place, but I do not think that is a given. Jose Mourinho would want a massive injection of cash. Would he receive it? I don’t think so.
There is talk of United appointing Louis Van Gaal (pictured above). If he gets the job, some of those egos in the Manchester United dressing room had better shut up, shape up or shift out. He is a disciplinarian of the old school. He doesn’t suffer fools at all, let alone gladly.
Andy Gray thinks he would be the perfect man for the job: “Louis Van Gaal is exactly what they need. They need a manager who has big European experience and who has won things at a high level.
“The players at Old Trafford were frightened of Ferguson. They were not frightened of David Moyes and they began leaking things out of the dressing room. Two weeks ago Robin Van Persie told van Gaal not to be too hasty accepting a job offer from Tottenham as there would be a bigger job becoming available soon.”
Andy Gray concludes: “How many Manchester United players can look in the mirror and say to themselves, ‘I have given David Moyes everything?’ I think very few.”
Mark Ogden, northern correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, was one of the first to break the news on Monday afternoon. He said: “There were senior players who very early on had misgivings about how David Moyes was going about things.”
Jonathan Norcroft of The Sunday Times newspaper got close to Moyes when he managed Everton. He said: “David treated this season as a discovery year. He thought this was the first of six and that he would spend this year finding out things about the players and that he would act in the second year.
“Out of a sense of fairness he gave so many players a chance, including the likes of Anderson and Ferdinand. It may be the issue that haunts him.
“What is really unfair is that the six year brief to rebuild the club was nothing of the kind.”
For my part, writes Vernon Grant, I maintain that who manages the team is not the biggest problem facing Manchester United. The club will not be back winning the Champions League while those running the club look upon it in a completely different way from the fans.
Unless there is a change in ownership of the club, or a total turnaround in approach by those who own it now, Manchester United will not be winning the Premier League or Champions League any time soon.
The club needs to spend, spend, spend. The supporters need to be patient. I’m not convinced either will be forthcoming.
The Glazers are rich but they are also parsimonious. Had they been handed the funds to build Rome, they’d be a pile of stones where the pantheon now stands.