Well, it’s finally happened. Sir Alex has gone.
I was only 5 when he took over as United manager so I’ve known nothing different. I sit in The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand at Old Trafford once or twice a fortnight and every United team I’ve ever seen live has been picked by him from my first game in 1990 until the Villa game a couple of weeks ago.
Everything that can be said about him has been said elsewhere in newspapers, on the internet, on the radio and television. I’m not here to give you a potted history of the man. I’m here to look at the worries of fans regarding his probable successor, David Moyes.
Answerable Worry 1: David Moyes is not Jose Mourinho
Short Answer: David Moyes is not Jose Mourinho!
Long Answer: Ok, Mourinho wins a lot of trophies wherever he goes, there’s no question of that (to quote the great man). However, he leaves a trail of destruction within 3 years. Let’s look at the evidence.
His first job was at Benfica. He quit after 9 games after insulting a potential assistant manager who had taught him at a coaching school, demanding a contract extension then, when it wasn’t immediately forthcoming, resigned on the spot. He went to another club, União de Leiria which, to be fair, appeared to be smooth but short and sweet, leaving for Porto.
He won the UEFA Cup and Champions League at Porto – quite remarkable. I was there the day he ran down the touchline after Porto scored the winning goal to knock us out and although I don’t remember much about the game or who played in it, I remember that moment.
Upon winning the Champions League he was linked with the Liverpool and Chelsea jobs publicly declaring his interest in the Liverpool one while still under contract at Porto. Ok, Moyes is clearly in negotiations to release himself from Everton (not that he really needs to, he’s out of contract in the summer anyway) but he’s said nothing publicly which shows a touch more class.
After moving to Chelsea he won two league titles and more. Then he falls out with an owner who’ll buy him any player he desires. There’ll be a budget at United that he’ll need to work to. Moyes is one of the finest at using a budget. If he managed to argue with Abramovich (as meddling as he is) can you imagine the friction between him and the Glazers?
So, he goes to Inter. He wins the Champions League again but not before already negotiating a move to Real Madrid, more or less announcing so during a post-match interview. Classless.
Now he’s at Real Madrid. He pokes the then Barcelona assistant (now manager) Tito Vilanova in the eye, calling him ‘Pito’ (slang for penis) when asked about it by the media. Just this week, with Madrid wanting rid of him, he’s made a ‘threat to stay’ at the club. He’s dropped the club captain, Iker Casillas and had continuous arguments with the long-serving Sergio Ramos.
Ok, Fergie was no stranger to a bit of controversy but after reading that are you still worried that’s Moyes isn’t Mourinho?
Answerable Worry 2: Moyes hasn’t won anything
Quick Answer: Nor would you at Everton and Preston
Long Answer: When a top 4 finish is seen as a league win by clubs as large as Arsenal and Liverpool, it’s no shock to find that the sleeping giant of Everton haven’t won anything. It’s taken over £500,000,000 for Man City to get to 2nd in the league this season and around £300,000,000 for Chelsea to reach 3rd, if Arsenal don’t slip up.
What hope did Moyes have on a net transfer spend of just over £800,000 a year over the past 12 years? Ok, you get the odd lucky cup winner like Portsmouth (who spent and spent to do it and look at them now) and they did lose a final to Chelsea along the way. Who’s to say that with better players, facilities, a larger staff and more funds to improve the team, he can’t win trophies?
Answerable Worry 3: He won’t attract the top players
Quick Answer: Players sign for Manchester United Football Club, not the manager
Long Answer: The club is one of the biggest 5 in the world with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan. Put us where you like in that bunch. If players don’t want to play for the club, they wouldn’t sign even if God was manager (which he was).
Fergie will also be a representative of the club. Do you think that if his influence could help he wouldn’t be on the first plane to wherever to help persuade whichever player that United is the place for them?
Answerable Worry 4: His football is not the United way
Quick Answer: Some clubs just can’t do it, we can. Besides, it’s a bit of a myth.
Long Answer: Sorry about the up-your-own-arseness of the first part of that quick answer. Let me explain. If you’re manager of Everton or Preston, you need to maximise the way you spend your money and achieve results. This means signing players who may not be the most technically gifted in the world. Moyes will have technically gifted players at his disposal.
Besides, and whisper this, we don’t always play beautiful football anyway. We pass the ball short a lot, yeah, but we score more than our fair share of set-piece goals and more ‘direct’ goals anyway. Think of the Giggs to Van Persie pass earlier on this season. Ok, it was deft of touch but it was still a long ball through the middle at the end of the day. We don’t walk the ball in, never have done (apart from the 3-2 Charity Shield win against City a couple of years back).
Another thing, my favourite United side were the ’94 team. We played with two flying wingers, Keane and Ince at centre mid and Hughes and Cantona up front. Hardly conducive to tiki-taka really was it?
Answerable Worry 5: He’s not used to having money to spend
Quick Answer: Well, he can buy some good players then
Long Answer: Oh no! How could a manager cope with having funds at his disposal to buy better players than he could at other clubs?! I’m sure Fergie himself didn’t exactly have wheelbarrowloads of cash at Aberdeen and he did alright.
Answerable Worry 6: He’s not got much European experience
Quick Answer: Nor did Di Matteo, Avram Grant, Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola
Long Answer: Having loads of experience of managing in Europe isn’t necessarily important. Di Matteo won the Champions League at Chelsea on his first go. Avram Grant did what Mourinho couldn’t at Chelsea and made it to a final and, let us not forget (snigger), were one kick away from winning it (hehe, snark, chuckle). Mourinho won the UEFA Cup on his first attempt then followed it up with the Champions League a year later. Guardiola turn Barcelona from an underachieving team into world-beaters within a season.
Answerable Worry 7: Fergie’s still upstairs
Quick Answer: He trusts Moyes
Long Answer: A lot has been said about the replacement of Busby by McGuinness with Busby having the next door office. This is totally different. Moyes has had over 10 years of Premier League management experience. Ferguson knows the problems caused last time the club was in a comparable situation. He won’t make the same mistake. Moyes will have Fergie’s ear whenever he wants or needs it but I cannot see Fergie getting involved in team affairs. Think Bobby Charlton, not Sir Matt.
I think those are the main ones.
There are benefits too, of course.
Clearly he’s been chosen personally by Fergie. Would he retire now if he didn’t think he was leaving the club in good hands especially when he’s been so publicly linked with the choice of successor?
Moyes has been shown to trust youth – ‘The United Way’, if you like (also a bit of a myth, if we’re honest – we sign players for big money regularly). Others (Mourinho in particular) seem to almost deliberately ignore that route.
If he does (heaven forbid) fail, do we think that we couldn’t go out and get a proven European manager? Top managers will still want the chance to manage the club
Let us give the man time and see what he does when it comes to the time when he needs to reshape the squad. That will be his first real test.
PS: This image has just been up, then taken off of United’s Facebook page. I was worried that I’d written all this then we’d bloody appoint Mourinho…!