“The higher you climb, the colder you get”. By now, David Moyes should have a full appreciation of this phrase. 11 points from 8 matches is decent, but not good enough at Manchester. Instead, success are measured by how the team shows the capability to challenge for silverware.
Moyes might be yet to adapt to the life with mid-week fixtures and international duties. It is not the intensive training which could get the best out of the squad, but is managing the playing time of the players. Although Sir Alex was not as a fervent advocate as Rafa Benitez towards squad rotation, it was indeed a key component for the legendary manager’s success at the Theatre of Dreams.
Moyes demonstrated how to operate with limited budget and resources. Nevertheless, despite enjoying a much better squad depth now, the former Everton manager believes he needs a better squad to win the Champions League. The worrying sign for United fans is that their manager seems to be far from understanding his players well enough.
Don’t concede if you don’t want to lose
Fielding the ageing Vidic and Ferdinand for 6 consecutive matches within 35 days was astonishing and reckless. Maybe Moyes was still indulged in the Jagielka-Distin partnership who played week in week out for Everton. With Rafael injured, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling was deputised at right back, though both, who are natural centrebacks, were horrid at times.
Fabio might be still too raw, but Antonio Valencia, who was used occasionally at right back by Sir Alex, was not even considered to replace Phil Jones who limped off at Anfield. If this resulted in Vidic and Ferdinand clocking up so many minutes, it is inexcusable — Moyes just do not know his players well enough. Johnny Evans and Rafael has now returned from injury, but the damage has already been done. Two clean sheets in eight games is not the standard of a champion.
Score if you want to win
There is little doubt that Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are the first-choice strikers. Nonetheless, Chicharito, who scored numerous important goals last season, is limited to only three appearances (one start) this season.
Moyes has to give Rooney playing time to persuade him in a new deal and you can hardly bench a fit van Persie. However, with Danny Welbeck preferred on the flank, you would assume the Mexican finisher could manage more game time than he had.
Van Persie is a lethal centre forward but he could also be deployed as a no.10 with his exquisite ball control and neat passes. At times when Rooney was out of action with his horrendous scar, Moyes decided against the above idea and chose to field Giggs or Ashley Young in support, leaving Chicharito out in the cold.
Shinji Kagawa was not in scintillating form so far and was taken off at half time against West Brom – a blunt indication of the manager’s dissatisfaction; yet that was more because he was played out of position. Kagawa was occupied with the Confederations Cup and may not have many opportunities to impress Moyes, but if Moyes continues to overlook Kagawa, a player Sir Alex has rated above Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, he would be missing out on a potentially deadly striker partnership that brought Dortmund back into the spotlight (Kagawa-Lewandowski).
Nurturing young talents has been pivotal in United’s success throughout the years. Moyes appears to be following the tradition by promoting Adnan Januzaj, who did not disappoint him with the brace at Sunderland. If Moyes could help keep the prodigy on his feet then he has every chance of becoming a second Cristiano Ronaldo.
What about Wilfried Zaha, though? The England international has yet to make a league appearance for United this season and could only join Kagawa, Hernandez and Valencia as regular bench-warmers. While the other three could easily find suitors if they intend to, Zaha, at 20 years of age, will struggle to be recognized with his limited top-flight experience.
Moyes recently implied that Zaha is not ready for Manchester United yet and is looking to send him on loan, making Zaha potentially becoming the most expensive player Sir Alex brought in to be loaned out. Instead, offloading Ashley Young seems to be a more reasonable option. High wages, poor form and cynical dives have already put the winger on the unpopular list, both in and out of the club.
Let’s hope the biased treatment between Zaha and Januzaj is not because of the formers rumoured love affair with Moyes’ daughter.
Sir Alex revealed his eight core beliefs that was behind his managerial success earlier and his successor should read it if he hasn’t. In particular, Moyes needs to dare to rebuild his team. Some might argue Ferguson quitted his job in the best time, because the current crop has peaked. It is true in a way as van Persie turned 30, Vidic and Ferdinand looked only half of their best and Rooney was contemplating his future.
On the other hand, with his affection towards the Red Devils, Ferguson always possesses the long term vision despite having retirement in mind. Promotion of Welbeck, Cleverley, Rafael, so as acquiring Smalling, Phil Jones and Zaha have already helped equip Moyes with a balanced age groups in the squad. Senior like Ryan Giggs would be of great help in addressing authority and garnering support, while the younger generation might provide elements of surprise during this rebuild through the managerial transition period.
Alex Ferguson has a glorious spell of 27 years with Manchester United, but it was not catalysed by one single winning formula. If David Moyes is to steer United back on the right track, he must forget about his sweet memories at Goodison Park and adapt to the new managerial environment he is currently at.