Ten things David Moyes will have to ponder
David Moyes strolled into Carrington on Monday, keys to a sponsored Chevrolet gripped tight in the right hand, BlackBerry in the other; every bit the modern Manchester United manager. The new man toured United’s ever-burgeoning complex, posed for photographs and, with his players not due to arrive before Tuesday, casually chatted to catering staff.
He has, we learn from a series of staged photographs, a predilection for hand-crafted suits and expensive slip-on shoes, an office adorned with PC and official United mouse mat, and a subscription to the ever-ubiquitous Sky television. Rumours that Moyes snacked on Mr. Potato crisps and washed down with a cool bottle of Singha beer are yet to be confirmed.
Monday was the Scot’s first official day on the job – and Moyes begins with the best wishes of millions, an apparently substantial transfer budget, the safety of a six-year contract, and a host of complicated issues to navigate. The rejoinder: Moyes is a man seemingly at ease in his new surroundings.
Yet, among an overflowing inbox, Moyes has at least a dozen critical issue to overcome at Old Trafford; some more pivotal to United’s success and failure than others. But each has the propensity to make or break the Scot’s first season in charge.
Here are ten things that Moyes will need to ponder:
The Rooney question:
Should he stay or should he go? Sir Alex Ferguson’s assertion, following the Scot’s final match at Old Trafford last May, that Rooney made a second transfer request in three years, has provoked a summer of speculation about the Scouser’s future. In briefing and counter-briefing, each side has played out another drama in the nation’s media over the past six weeks.
The club, sticking with Sir Alex’s line, asserts that Rooney’s transfer request was denied. Rooney’s people argue that no such request was ever made. In truth, each is playing a tedious game of chess; sounding out the other before negotiations begin over Rooney’s next contract, or next move. United has already sought prospective buyers in continental Europe. Rooney’s people have made no secret of the player’s availability. Moyes’s ability to quickly resolve the drama, by either placating or replacing the striker, could set the tone for United’s season ahead.
Clearing out the dead wood:
United completed a stunning Premier League victory in May, vanquishing Manchester City in securing the title by 11 points. There are few greater triumphs on which Ferguson could end more than 40 years in the game. Yet, an unfortunate defeat to Real Madrid, together with domestic cup exit at Chelsea’s hands, exposed some of United’s weaknesses; injuries and age in defence, inconsistency in attack and a criminally threadbare midfield to name a few.
More worrying than the general observation, however, is the form of half-a-dozen seemingly key players, with Anderson, Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, among others, suffering seasons that player and fans alike might rather forget. The first two names in the above list will surely leave Old Trafford this summer, unless Moyes believes that he can find a consistency in an erratic duo that Sir Alex could not. Young and Valencia, together with Tom Cleverley and Fabio da Silva, have much to prove. It is probably too late for Federico Macheda and Bébé.
Integrating a new backroom:
“I have worked with Steve, Chris and Jimmy for a number of years and I am delighted they have decided to join me at this great club,” said the new manager in a prepared statement as United welcomed Steve Round, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden to the club. Round joins the club as Moyes’s assistant after working at Everton for the past five years. Meanwhile, Woods leaves Everton after 15 years at the club. The former international went to four tournaments in succession with England during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Veteran coach Lumsden has worked with Moyes since the pair worked at Preston North End.
However, the challenge, no matter how talented the new employees, is whether the players will miss Ferguson’s trusted ally Mike Phelan, together with technical mastermind Rene Meulenstein and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele. Indeed, Moyes’s decision to make wholesale changes is both a statement of confidence and a significant risk.