“I think we’ve played a very good side and it’s the sort of standard and level we need to try and aspire to get ourselves to at this moment in time”. This was David Moyes’s immediate response after the 3-0 defeat at the hands of their city rivalries Manchester City and it speaks volumes of how far Manchester United have fallen under the management of David Moyes and his coaching staff. It wasn’t so long ago that Manchester City were aspiring to be at the standard that Alex Ferguson had set at Man United. “The times they are changing” in Manchester and for United fans (if United stick with Moyes), this could be mean many years of up and down seasons for the club.
A change of manager has to be made to avoid this. Unfortunately for David Moyes, things are just not working out for him like they did at Everton. Many football fans will agree that David Moyes deserved the chance to manage one of the big clubs in England (no disrespect to Everton). However, the first eight months have shown that David Moyes is way out of his depth as a top class manager. In retrospect, it was possibly an unwise decision for Man United to allow Alex Ferguson to appoint his successor. It was probably Ferguson’s thinking at the time that Moyes would have the same mental toughness that he had by growing up in Scotland that would have made him a successful manager at the top echelon of English football. However, it has been shown that Moyes does not have the mental toughness nor the tenacity like previous great Scottish managers such as Shankly, Busby and Ferguson himself.
Even putting aside the position United find themselves this season, the level and the intensity of the performances have been extremely poor this year. It is astounding to look at this team who were so motivated and driven last season, to being the complete opposite this season. Many fans have cited the fact (and I tended to agree) that Ferguson left the squad in poor shape and this is one of the main reasons why United are playing so badly. But recently, I don’t think this is the case. Simply put David Moyes is not the level of manager that Manchester United hoped he would be. World class managers make world class teams but world class players do not make world class managers. Taking the first point, look at Barcelona in the pre Pep Guardiola era between 2006 and 2008. The team looked demotivated, dysfunctional and way passed their best. The team was full of world class players such as Ronaldinho, Xavi, Deco, Iniesta and a certain Lionel Messi but even with this level of talent, Barcelona could not win anything. However, once Guardiola arrived that all changed rapidly. Barcelona were not known as a set of world class individuals anymore but as a world class team and the rest as they say is history. Taking an English example, look at Brian Clough at both Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Both were provincial clubs in English football with very little history behind them but both teams won the first division due to the genius of Brian Clough. With Derby, he most likely would have won the European Cup if it had not been for some dodgy refereeing against Juventus and with Forest he won the European Cup twice in a row, an extraordinary achievement.
So can United fans really expect Moyes to turn around the problems that Manchester United have and turn them into world beaters again? Most would suggest that this won’t happen. Even if Moyes does sign players such as Toni Kroos, Macro Reus or Koke will they become disillusioned with Moyes’s management just as the squad from this season have? Why would Dortmund players who have been linked with Man United such as Subotic, Gundogan and Reus move to United after what has happened to Kagawa. Kagawa was the best player at Dortmund before he left to join United but look at him now. His performances have been very poor this season and this has to come down to the faith David Moyes has in him. It seems like he has no confidence in Kagawa and the way he plays football doesn’t suit the style of football that Moyes wants to try and play at United.
So who do Manchester United get to replace David Moyes? The names been talked about currently are Diego Simeone, Jurgen Klopp, Louis van Gael and lately some fans have started to talk about Marcelo Bielsa. While Bielsa would be an outstanding candidate with a proven track record, his intensity and his obsession with football may not be warmly welcomed at United and the wider footballing community in England. As well as that while his first season at Athletic Bilbao was an extraordinary success (beating United in the Europa League 5-3 on aggregate), his final season in charge was a complete disaster. He also has a strange way of dealing with the media in the country’s he has managed in. He never gives exclusive interviews and only talks to the media in press conferences. These press conferences could last between three and four hours which would be incredibly abnormal in English football.
Looking at the way Manchester United have played down the years, the counter attacking style that Alex Ferguson used should be the type of style of management that the United board should try and get in. At the moment in world football, the one manager who suits this style more than any other is Jurgen Klopp. The counter attacking style he has implemented at Dortmund has been massively successful and led them to two league championships and a Champions league. His personality would suit Man United as well. He is not as controversial as Mourinho but still has the mental toughness to deal with bad times which is crucial when managing a top level club.
While the United board will probably stick with David Moyes for the foreseeable future, next season will be a massive season for United to perform and reclaim their rightful place in the Champions League. Another bad start to the season next year would be a disaster for the club and would severely lower United’s chances of attracting world class players. The club are in difficult times at the moment so it will be interesting to see if they can overcome this and who will lead them back to the glory days.