David Moyes has taken a lot of criticism this season after his arrival at Manchester United. Many United fans have called for his head and claimed he is out of his depth at one of the world’s biggest and most renowned clubs. And there is a strong argument: Moyes’ United are struggling to make the Champions League places this year, whereas Fergie’s United – with the same squad – won the title comfortably last season. However, I see it differently.
In my view, after 27 years in charge of the Red Devils, and still with many more years left in him (as he still watches every game from the stands), Fergie must have forecast the downfall of the club. He was unwilling to let a poor season tarnish his impeccable record at the helm of Old Trafford, so he jumped ship, knowing his current squad needed a lot of improvement. It could be said that United’s side last season were very lucky to win the league, relying on the clinical Robin van Persie. With the far superior squads of Chelsea and Manchester City, Fergie may have predicted that lightning would not strike twice, and these two big-spenders of English football could not falter again.
Everyone knows that David Moyes did not inherit a squad anything like that of City, Chelsea and perhaps a few other teams above them this year. In my eyes, there are two groups in the United squad. The first is the ageing, ever-present veterans of Fergie’s time in Manchester – like Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra – who are several years past their best. The second is the young recruits like Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who have not lived up to their billing. In his final few years at the club, Fergie made no real attempt to integrate these groups. The only signings of note in this period, were RVP – who is probably slipping into the first category – and Shinji Kagawa, who has not made an impact yet.
Due to this, United are still lacking in many areas. Since the retirement(s) of Paul Scholes, they have needed a creative spark in midfield to play in front of Carrick. One of the biggest problems for United this year, is supplying RVP with regular scoring chances. Fergie’s timid approach at signing Wesley Sneijder was his only real attempt to secure this area. On the contrary, Moyes was quick to try and fill the gap, probing at Barcelona for Thiago and Fabregas, and eventually signing Mata in January, one of the best in this role across Europe.
In addition, United’s defence is still shaky, and no improvements have been made to it for a while. The old guard of Ferdinand and Vidic have looked open and frail, and their younger counterparts, including Jones, Smalling and Evans, have struggled to make a mark too. For the past few years, Fergie had to deal with a lot of injuries in this position, often having to field Carrick out of his comfort zone. And yet, he still did not delve into the transfer market, and when he did, he spent nearly £20 million on Phil Jones – a player whose best position has yet to be confirmed.
Despite Manchester United’s current position, there are some encouraging signs for supporters. Moyes seems much more willing to try and get the Glazers to open their wallets, another thing Ferguson didn’t really tackle with conviction. He is showing signs that he will make additions in key, needed positions. However, it may now be difficult for United to attract big names without the prospect of quality European football.
So, in short, I believe Fergie knew he could not get any further with this squad without having to break the bank, which is not his style, and wanted to go out on a high. Adoring United fans may not like to admit it, but you have to conclude that Fergie is partly responsible for the collapse of England’s most successful club.