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The David Moyes saga: Disruption of an establishment

Alshaar Khan
24 Apr 2014, 07:00 IST

The sacking of David Moyes took more than just his head.

‘The Club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role’

This, the official statement on Manchester United’s official website which embodies the unceremonious termination of the services of David Moyes bears desolate resemblance to the one that was issued on the commencement of his reign at the club. But had winning been only about hard work, honesty and integrity, Moyes probably would still be running on the sidelines as the United manager and the club would have held its head high for its reverence towards longevity and integrity.

After Tuesday’s turn of events, the fixation that worries you the most as an unconditional supporter of the Red Devils is the disruption of the institution that Manchester United has actually fortressed over its glorious history. Sir Alex in his autobiography held that United’s owners, the Glazer family did not want mass speculation over his successor. Thus the Old Scott invited Moyes over to his house following his meeting with Joel Glazer in New York.

In the opening chapter of the monologue of the greatest manager in Brit history, David Moyes has been associated with terms such as resolution, determination, dourness, straightforwardness – the traits which impressed the Glazers and the ones which ultimately led to his appointment under the impression that he would embrace the traditions at the most successful club in United Kingdom. Handing him a 6-year contract, the management envisioned him in their long term plans. And when you entrust somebody with such an esteemed yet demanding position, you have to give him time.

Moyes was prepared to stick it out but it was not to be, as loyalty was something that he did not get in return. Within the space of 10 months, things took a spectacular turnaround as Moyes has been shown the exit door as a result of an uncharacteristic decision taken by the club. What makes it worse is the manner in which the drama ensued. 24 hours prior to the official statement, the news broke in the media. The fans started a ‘Save Moyes’ campaign only to be ambushed next day. Manchester United Supporters Trust vice president Sean Bones summed up the deficiency of gravity in the episode by expressing that, “There was no dignity or class in the way they (Glazers) went about it.”

However there is no escaping the fact that Moyes led a champion squad plus Palace sensation Wilfred Zaha, his Everton talisman and two-time Chelsea player of the year Juan Mata at his disposal, to an abhorrent 7th place in the league. But would it be fair to blame the Scot for all that has happened this season or does making him the scapegoat for all the club’s problems solve anything?

The players have responded to the change in the coaching staff in a disappointing manner to say the least. Constant dressing room spats coming out in the open, players complaining to the media about the manager’s tactics or allegedly having an affair with the boss’ daughter had never been a feature of the establishment called Manchester United during its yester-years. Former United captain Roy Keane, a fan favorite during his years at the club, has lashed out at the players saying that “I think he (Moyes) should have been given more time, and I think some of the players at Manchester United should be ashamed of themselves. I think they really let him down.”

Having said that, it has to be accepted that a period of transition is set to witness turbulence at the club, the players included. And that is what the entire point comes down to. Reiterating facts won’t change the way things have unfolded, but Moyes’ 51-match period in office is witness to the highest winning percentage by a Man United manager among the ones with a minimum record of as many matches in charge. The fact that it took his predecessor six seasons to bag his first Premier League title also could be of little advocacy for the sacked Scot now.

On the contrary, there have been several records that he has broken to reach a position of such animosity with a certain group of fans, the defeat at Goodison Park being the final nail in the coffin. The result made sure that for the first time in the history of English football, both Everton and Liverpool completed doubles over United in the same season.


The people who have been with the club through thick and thin lowered their expectations subsequent to the miserable display in the summer transfer window prior to the commencement of the 2013/14 season. Vice chairman of the Club Ed Woodward along with the newly appointed manager shortlisted unrealistic targets and were ultimately forced to overpay for the last minute signing of Marouane Fellaini. Imposters mocking the Ander Herrera deal, wrong documents being filed for Fabio Ceontrao’s transfer from the Spanish capital are the unprofessional catastrophes that occurred under Woodward’s sleeve. But the irony of the day lies in the fact that it was the same official who informed Moyes of the axe before the training session on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the ones who could look beyond the obvious failures of the new manager in charge would also have realised the process of a new team being structured in the backdrop. Captain Namanja Vidic, who has agreed a move to Inter Milan, is leading a mass exodus of the long serving defensive heroes of the club. Rio Ferdinand is expected to move to somewhere in the States while reportedly Patrice Evra will also not be given a contract extension at the end of the current season. Phil Jones’ consecutive appearances at the centre of the defence were heartening signs for the future.

Visibly, the plan was to build a back four around the 22-year old who was touted as a ‘future great’ by Sir Alex himself. Rooney’s contract extension and most certainly his taking over of the captaincy has also been welcomed by many. (Yes I know you hate Moyes for that too). Danny Welbeck who is now linked with a move away from the Red Devils has also staged inspiring performances.

Adnan Januzaj has been one of the biggest positives of the season. His performance in the absence of both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie earlier in the season gave heartening signs of his ripening both as a player and an individual. For the sake of his prtotection in his early days, he has been kept second fiddle ever since the arrival of Juan Mata and at least one out of Rooney and van Persie were fit. The loanees Jese Lingard and Nick Powell too have been performing well for their host clubs.

Meanwhile, Wilfred Zaha has had a horrendous time at United, post his heroics for Crystal Palace in the preceding season. For the likes of Chicharito and Kagawa, a lack of minutes would certainly have opened up the options of seeking transfers to change the same. An area of concern? Yes. But this is bound to happen at every club (Accepted that Kagawa should not play on the wings). It needs no explaining how badly the midfield needs quick improvements. The new signings this season have hardly made any difference.

It was well known to Sir Alex and the Glazers that managing Manchester United after a legend was going to be a tough task at the highest level for someone like Moyes, given his past experience includes managing only Everton and Preston. But it doesn’t take a rocket scienctist to explain that the failures were about more than just the scapegoat who got the axe. The fact that heavy spending will take place in the coming season bears ample testimony to the same.

As far as the next manager is concerned, Luis van Gaal looks most likely to succeed Moyes, after both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola outrightly rejected the notions of making a move. More than a foreign manager, the comeback of Sir Alex’s staff trio of Rene Muelensteen, Mike Phelan and Eric Steele could get things going now that Moyes’ men have departed along with him. Along with Ryan Giggs and Phill Neville, these guys, who know the club inside out, can help the new manager acclimatize better than the ex-Everton boss did.

All said and done, this entire chapter has dented the Man United institution massively and it would take even more remarkable rebuilding efforts from here. The club has to stay patient and juxtapose a set of clever and farsighted decisions to ensure that what derailed Liverpool for a good part of 20 years should not be repeated at another legendary football club.

Interim manager Ryan Giggs has the task of finishing the season on a high. Unfortunately for the club, that is the best that they can do anymore.

As for the man who faced the heat for his team’s dwindling fates, a quote from Sir Alex’s autobiography could serve up some inspiration. ’Scots don’t leave to escape the past. They move away to better themselves.’

So long David Moyes!

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