David Moyes was the Right Manager for Manchester United
Growth requires change. I understand that. There are, however, and should be, exceptions to this rule. In order to live in a relatively civilized society we need constants. Dogs must bark, cats will meow and Manchester United will win championships. Every season. Recently, one of those previously unmovable constants was altered.
Manchester United are one of the winningest football (yes, we’re going to call the sport by its proper name) teams in the world. Each year they are not only expected to finish as the top team in the English Premier League they are also expected to contend for and hopefully win the FA Cup, Champions League, and any other tournaments they compete in. When the grand old Scot, Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm this was as close to a certainty as you can possibly get. You always felt it was going to happen. There were no ‘ifs’ or ‘maybes’. Man United would prevail. We always knew they would. Unfortunately that sure-fire belief came crashing down this season.
Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/2013 season and hand-picked David Moyes as his successor. Moyes was a modestly successful manager who had kept Everton in the upper part of the Premier League rankings for the previous twelve years. At the time most experts thought it to be a credible move. Educated thoughts claimed that there may be some growing pains and United may not retain the title but they’d be in the running and there may be another trophy they pick up somewhere during the season. Moyes possessed old-fashioned traits that couldn’t be taught. He was honest, hard-working, and had a loyalty to his club and players that few managers other than Ferguson himself possessed. The fans, the board of directors and Ferguson himself felt as though they were getting a manager built from the same mold, made up of the same stiff Scottish values that Ferguson had utilized to guide the team for the past twenty-six years. There were a couple of rumblings that he didn’t possess the international pedigree that others who were available at the time had in their resume, but Manchester United isn’t a team who pick based on swagger. They wanted a manager who would be in the trenches fighting for every point and clawing back when needed. Most pundits agreed. In Moyes, they had a man who breathed the United fire. He was without a doubt a Manchester United manager.
The Glazers, Manchester United’s often unpopular American owners wanted a relatively seamless transition. They wanted Ferguson Part Two and they felt they were getting it. There was nothing wrong with their rationale. No matter what the fans say today, now that the lustre has faded and our team, the team we depended on, sits in seventh place, the owners made the decision with the good of Manchester United and all she represents in mind. They made the right call. They felt that a fifty-year-old man who had vast amounts of management experience would be able to navigate our team past the powerhouses of Barcelona, Real Madrid and closer to home, our cross town rivals – Manchester City, as well as other top English teams – Chelsea, and (it pains me to even type the word), Liverpool. The owners and decision-makers felt he would develop or already possessed enough tactical knowledge to combat the brilliant minds of world class managers who our team faces each week. The key was the mettle of the man, the makeup. That was to be the base upon which the team would build. Did they have the conversation and wonder whether the skills he’d used to maintain Everton’s position in the top tier of football, while not winning trophies were enough to direct Manchester’s group of superstars? Did they wonder whether he possessed the tactical creativity to take our team to the next level? Perhaps they did, and when the answer came back as a “maybe” perhaps they decided to hire him based on the type of man he was rather than the type of tactical genius he was not or would become.
Hindsight is a wonderful deception. Now that the dream has ended, those same experts are examining Moyes’s inabilities and comparing the skills required for the job at Everton with the job description at the world’s best football club. They’re right in some of their analysis but they were very quiet at the beginning of the season when he signed the contract. Ten months ago they did not write or talk about the fact that the man was about to embark on a mission for which he might not measure.
The owners did the right thing. They hired the right man. They agreed with Sir Alex and hired a good man who had the determination and grit to be a Manchester United manager. Unfortunately, he did not possess sufficient skill level and as the season progressed this lack of skill became more apparent. There is no doubt in my mind that the next manager will help right the team. At the end of next season our players will grip the handles of trophies and smile through mud-spattered hard faces. I’m not sure if the next manager will be a leader in the United mold though. I don’t know if he will have the qualities that we’ve learned to believe in and count on –the type of qualities that we’ve come to depend on. I wish Moyes had made it. I wish he’d surprised us all and occasionally pulled out a game plan that showed he was worthy of being our leader. We tried. The owners tried but unfortunately the good man was lacking.
Pictures were published on the weekend showing David Moyes and his wife in Miami, Florida. You wonder if he was just escaping the English media or if perhaps he had an invitation from another ex-Manchester United employee. David Beckham is currently assembling the staff for his new MLS team in Miami. His team is due to begin playing in 2015. Will Mr. Moyes be prowling the sidelines for the new MLS team next season?
And, the rumour mill claims that Louis Van Gaal, the experienced Dutch manager will be hired as the next manager of Manchester United. He’s a proven winner. Is he a manager built from the same mold as the fabled United winners of the past? Time will only tell. Moyes and United will prevail. That’s a certainty. The world will continue to turn and the constants will be re-instated. And, United will once again stand tall.