A Declaration of Interest…I have been a Manchester United fan since 6th February 1958. My sons are fans. My grandsons also.
In that time we have had two great managers. Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson. What happens next? Well seemingly David Moyes. The career of most football managers end in failure. So I am glad that the career of Fergie has ended on a high…Uniteds twentieth title and Alexs thirteenth… 2013 indeed.
And yet despite Uniteds runaway win over Manchester City…and Chelsea and Arsenal and the rest hides the fact that this is not the best United squad that Fergie has coached. Clearly a lot of credit has to go to the backroom team that Ferguson has worked with down the years. Its really all about Continuity and Consistency.
If David Moyes is named as the new manager…I will be pleased. Moyes seems to be to be cut from the same cloth as his fellow Scots (Busby and Ferguson) and has done a good job with Everton on very limited funds. Indeed that might in itself a problem…is he the sort of manager who cant really manage at the very top?
United fans are now so used to success that ending 2012-13 with “only” the Premiership is actually an anti-climax. The early dismissal from Europe, along with the other English clubs demonstrates that the Premiership is no longer the best domestic league in Europe. The European Champions final will be contested by two German teams.
So a re-building job is what Moyes has taken on. Slow changes or Quick Changes. New broom? New hairdryer? Or…steady as she goes. Will he have the dressing room onside? Or will hevquickly identify the whingers?
Of the three goalkeepers…Lindegaard looks the most likely to go. On his rare appearances, most recently against Chelsea, he has not impressed me. Amos has been out on loan and ready to be promoted to the United bench. Whether he stays or goes, the future is probably in his own hands. De Gea has had a reasonable season. Still young, he has clearly put on weight and not nearly as vulnerable at crosses than he was. A lot of the credit goes to Eric Steele, the Goalkeeping Coach. De Gea seems to be a “confidence player” who needs the backing of a mentor. A lot might depend on how any new coach rates him.
I have never liked Ferdinand. And I have never really understood his popularity with United fans. That eight months suspension for the missed drugs test is not something that I can easily forget. He is also not the player he was. And at his age, not liable to play a full season. Vidic …hampered by long term injury..has not yet come fully back to t the player he was three years ago. Evans has improved but is he really top drawer by European standards. Smalling and Jones have arrived over the past few seasons. But both seem injury prone. Yet they are now in an England squad.
Evra has gone backwards over recent seasons but had no real competition from Fabio (who did not impress on loan with QPR and likely to leave) but under pressure from new arrival Buttner, he has regained form. Rafael has had a good season.
It is hard to see David Moyles having the same connexion with Giggs (39) and Scholes (38). Giggs is signed up for another year and Scholes will likely retire…again. Giggs will be relegated to a mere supporting role Next year. Yet the man brought in as his replacement, Young, has shown very little consistency. I am not a fan of Nani and I think Fergie has indulged him too much. He is selfish and frankly below United standard. Valencia might have slowed up since his broken leg. He seems to struggle more than he did and that final ball is too wayward.
Fletcher is likely to retire thru illness. And Cleverley is not yet the finished product. Carrick has had a good season. Powell is for the future. Kagawa a decent squad player but there is a suspicion that United need him for commercial rather than football reasons…the Japanese and wider Asian market. Anderson…..has never lived up to his reputation. He should move on.
Moving on…Rooney? He wanted to move a few years ago. And there are rumours about him going this time. United fans dont like him (and David Moyes might have a long memory ). There are fitness concerns about Rooney. And I think we have seen his best already. Van Persie is of course the main reason that United won the title. Hernandez is popular…an impact sub rather than a starter but I rate him. Macheda (already on loan in Germany) will move on. Wellbeck…I cant see the fuss….Bambi on ice, he seems a long way short of United standard.
So did the squad that I have just described actually win the Premiership. Yes…and by a distance. but surely a lot of that must be down to Alex Ferguson. He had the drive and the squad were driven. Football is a team game…and the art of the manager is to make a team more than the sum of its parts. Ferguson has built four United teams but this one is the weakest. No Schmeichel. No Keane. No Cantona. No Irwin.
David Moyes? He needs to establish himself early. In Press Conferences. On the training ground. Look out for cliques within the club. And impress the fans in the first five games of the new season. Thats where his reputation will be made. dropping too many points at the start of his United career and the first “Moyes Out” chants will be heard.
A new back room staff? Probably but not completely. And certainly re-building and his first port of call might be Everton….Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman maybe. Phil Neville on the coaching staff?