“Your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.” Few football lovers can afford to forget Sir Alex Ferguson’s final speech to the United fans before his emotional goodbye to the world’s biggest football club but few have remember the wisdom that was at the heart of his speech. Sir Alex had an unremarkable first season in Manchester, finishing a disappointing 12th in League and only managing to get as far as the fourth round in the FA Cup, so the former Manager understands the value of time. Time is apparently a the great heeler and time far surpassed just healing and trophies and the world best players followed in the next twenty odd years : Schmeichel, Bruce, Cantona, Stam, Ferdinand, Ronaldo and Rooney just to name a few. Yes time it seems was on Ferguson’s side and it just so happen to benefit the majority at Old Trafford: the board, the trophy cabinet, the players and the fans. If the Manchester United faithful need to learn anything it is that success is a constant trait, it comes and goes just as the tide goes in and out. Stability breeds success and if you are a Man United fan take note for that message from SAF during May 2013.
Few can doubt that SAF was the best British manager that as the popular chance goes “…the World have ever seen” and this was David Moyes’ first problem. Just how does anyone replace a legend? Much was made of his decision to bring in his own backroom team and get rid of the staff that had become part of the Old Trafford furniture under SAF. This was stupid not brave many said when in fact it was neithe , it was just a necessity. Every new Chief Executive of any business will bring in his own team when taken over from the previous incumbent: a new PA will arrive, a new senior management team will come and the carpet may well change. In the same respect you don’t see many men inviting their girlfriends previous boyfriends on the first date, do you? Moyes had to dispose of Fergie’s backroom team because not only did he have to show the players it was his club and he was the man, he had to prove it to himself. Some people have argued that he should have stuck with the old and slowly taken control but this is one of those rare occasions in sport where the issue is a black and white one. Moyes showed the sporting world that he was breaking from the past, and this was the right thing to do.
One of the signs of a truly great leader is knowing when to step down and Sir Alex knew that time was running out for him, so he exited at the right time. He handpicked his replacement and rode off into the sunset. In truth Sir Alex left his successor with a mess (it’s for you to decide whether the part of the sentence is written in ironic tone or not) and a sensational squad filled with worldclass talent such as : Evans, Smalling, Anderson and Cleverly, Rooney was flirting with an exit and the defence would not look out of place in an old people’s home. To top it all off David Gill the CEO was leaving, the man with the nous of how to complete transfers and how to run a global brand. That is one long list to get stuck into and to solve. Ferguson had overachieved with an average squad that would struggle to win the Europa league. For those of you who believe the headlines rather than the articles , the next paragraph is for you.
In his 12 year stint at Everton he took over a club from the lower ebbs of the Premier League to the upper reaches of the table, giving the Toffee’s Champions League football along the way. The man brought Cahill, Gravesen, Howard , Phil Neville, Arteta and Distan on a shoe string budget and without getting the plaudits he deserved. This was also the man who introduced the once in a generations’ talent of Wayne Rooney to the Premier League and them sold him ironically to United for thirty million. His record at Everton was nothing short of miraculous and he earned his deserved move to the biggest club in the world. In one sense the Everton job did not prepare with his current job: you are expected to sign a high calibre of player at United, you live under a 25 hour media spotlight whilst the social media world makes it easier more fans than ever to speak their mind . For a seemingly shy man this is probably the hardest part for him to come to terms with. This is the equivalent of a back bench Politician been drafted in as the Chancellor and then to have to deliver the perfect Budget. People will rate your every performance in front of the cameras of the Earth’s media and that is not fun. Moyes ,as the best football pundit Gary Neville recently explained, has struggled with this side of being the United manager but then becoming a protagonist takes time. Moyes needs to learn how to say the right thing to camera and which journalists to talk too and show that he is more willing to listen to fans.
Moyes is clever and he will learn but the fans must give him a chance to do so. One average season is not crisis but four is and that would be the time to sack Moyes. It will only get better and the Manchester United board seem to know this. The former Toffee’s gaffer needs to do following in the summer :
1) Get rid of the Fergie faithful and wave goodbye to: Rio F, Vidic , Anderson, Cleverly and Evra and RVP.
2) Make Giggs a full time coach and persuade him to retire from playing.
3) Give Wayne Rooney the captaincy and make him his main man.
4) Sign the a new spine of the team, minus the goalkeeper. He needs: two centres, three midfielders and one or two strikers.
5) Make a Marquee signing.
6) Befriend the fans by hold Q and A’s sessions, hosting dinners and going on golf days.
The hardest part has always been and gone , he has replaced a sporting icon. With the six steps that have just been laid out and the continued patience of a very patient board he may just have a fighting chance. If you are a United fan put down your headline reading classes, stand up a sing for David …