Firstly, I must say as a Manchester United fan I was shocked and worried when it was announced that Sir Alex Ferguson was retiring. He has been at the helm for longer than my generation has been alive, and as a fan I can only thank him for the countless great memories he has given the club. It took a few minutes to get my head around the fact that Sir Alex would not be manager of Manchester United next season and when it did finally sink in, naturally my thoughts turned to who his successor will be.
When it was clear that David Moyes was to succeed Sir Alex, it did put my mind at ease as to what direction the club would be heading in over the next few years. The appointment of Moyes seems a good one for the club as he does share many characteristics with Sir Alex, as has been well documented. However, one of the key qualities Moyes has yet to show in his managerial career is to lead a club to a trophy, something which will certainly be expected of him at Manchester United (most probably in his first season too). Many have said he should be given the same chance that Sir Alex was given upon his appointment in 1986, who did not win a trophy for 4 years or a league championship for 7 years. The difference now is that Moyes is joining a club which have been crowned league champions just months prior to his first game in charge, whereas Sir Alex joined a club which hadn’t won one in 26 years. Moyes is inheriting a squad of players with numerous honours to their names and who know what it takes to not only win the Premier League but also what it means to lose it, something which helped the squad to regain the title this season. Moyes will need to at least challenge for the title next season and possibly have a good run in one of the domestic cups.
However, with the probable return of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and the possibility of Manual Pellegrini replacing Roberto Mancini and Man City, it is likely that any domestic trophy will be more difficult to win next season. However, if Moyes is to win a trophy next season it is most likely going to be a domestic one. He has fantastic knowledge of the Premier League through his 11 years at Everton and although he didn’t win a cup in his time there I don’t think it is something which should be held against him. His resources at Everton were limited to rations in comparison to what other clubs at a similar level have spent over the years (Spurs, Villa, and Liverpool etc). As a result his Everton teams have often been quite brittle in the sense that only his starting XI were often good enough to get results consistently and give Everton a chance in the big games. Additionally, as Moyes evidently values the League over cup competitions he hasn’t succeeded in them. This approach can easily be defended as since Moyes took over at Everton the only teams outside the obvious contenders to win the FA Cup have been Wigan and Portsmouth. The League Cup has had a more diverse history with its winners with Swansea, Birmingham, Middlesbrough and Blackburn all winning it since Moyes took over at Everton. One thing that stands out about four of the six teams mentioned which is that they are no longer in the Premier League, with Wigan looking likely to be the 5th team to join this category this season. It is obvious that without a sufficiently deep squad it is unwise to go all out in search of cup glory, however much it may disappoint the clubs fans as it can be detrimental to league form. However, as United already have a squad capable of challenging on multiple fronts and a fairly large transfer budget will be available, providing Moyes can master the art of rotation he should be able to challenge for trophies.
Another area where Moyes lacks the experience required to be a successful Manchester United manager is in European competitions. Sir Alex will retire with the one regret of not being able to win more Champions League trophies. The two triumphs he lead the club to brought United’s total to 3, something which Sir Alex knows himself is not good enough for a club which has been as domestically dominant as Manchester United over the years. The task of righting this wrong will now be handed over to David Moyes, a manager who has never managed in the Champions League apart from a couple of games in the qualifying rounds with Everton (which he lost). This is the one area in which United fans will need to be patient with Moyes and give him time to adapt to managing in Europe. Just because he has never done it before does not mean he is not good enough to do it.
It is obvious that changes are needed at Old Trafford and Moyes will need to hit the ground running in terms of renovating his squad. The key to how much renovation that needs to take place will depend on whether or not Wayne Rooney will be at Old Trafford come the end of August. If so then only minor changes will have to be made, possibly the signing of a top class central midfielder will suffice. However, if Rooney does move on then a major void will be left which must be filled with class and quality. When Rooney hasn’t played this season United have seemed to lose a dimension in their attacking play. The link between midfield and attack isn’t as threatening, regardless of who is playing in “Rooney’s role”. Personally, I don’t see a player capable of being a like-for-like replacement for Rooney. A couple of years ago and it would have been obvious, sell Rooney and bring in Sneijder, but that is no longer the case.
Few players are as well rounded and versatile as Rooney who would be a realistic option for Man Utd at this time. For me it is a case of keep Rooney or change the style of play slightly and bring in someone from the same mould as Juan Mata, David Silva and Santi Cazorla. The only other option would be to sign Gareth Bale or resign the legend of Cristiano Ronaldo, both seem disappointingly unlikely though. The only other area of concern would be out on the wings due to the lack of form shown this season by Valencia, Nani and Young. However, with Zaha joining the squad this summer and all three of the current wingers having sufficient ability to be game changers, Moyes may give the four the chance to impress before making any changes in that particular department.
I personally feel that Moyes is the right man to succeed Sir Alex. Although he hasn’t got the experience or trophy cabinet of someone like Mourinho, he does have a huge desire to win, a willingness to give youth a chance and most importantly he has the capacity to adapt and grow into a successful Manchester United manager.
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