Man United: Excuses Aren't Enough, Moyes’ Position Is Untenable
I’ve never been so conflicted being a Manchester United fan. In the immortal words of Wayne Rooney, I am ‘angry and confused’.
From day one, I was part of the camp that was opposed to the appointment of David Moyes. I felt he was out of his depth. I wanted Jose Mourinho, a man who would come in and steady the ship and keep us winning trophies until a long-term successor could come in without the pressure of having to follow the most successful manager in English football. I’m not afraid to admit it; when Moyes was appointed I lost some of my mojo for supporting United. I found myself only just stopping short of actively wanting United to lose games early in the season so he would get the sack. Even as recently as February, when I went to see United play Fulham in our last home game prior to the Liverpool debacle, I found myself unmoved when we came from a goal down to lead. It was a wake-up call.
I started backing Moyes. I began to convince myself that he could still be the right man. I started to scramble around for other reasons behind our failure. I did it because it gave me something to lose if United lose. My pride would be dented if Moyes failed. On Sunday morning, I was really looking forward to the four games in ten days that were ahead. I got my mojo back. It didn’t last long.
I said before Sunday’s game that the upcoming ten days could be either glorious or catastrophic, but I didn’t think it would fall so comprehensively into the latter category. I also stated that whilst those ten days wouldn’t be enough to be able to turn me into the kind of knuckle-dragging mouth breather who types messages of support for Moyes on an iPad and holds it aloft, it could certainly turn me fully against him.
Form aside, the Manchester United team that started yesterday’s game should not be beaten that easily by that particular Liverpool side. Brendan Rodgers’ side are going through a run of form at the moment where confidence is so high that they appear to just plough past any team in front of them. They have their tails up, but they are not title-winning material just yet, and yet United made them look like world beaters.
Moyes’ team certainly didn’t lack effort, but they lacked cohesion or any form of organisation. The first two goals can be put purely down to a lack of concentration, something that can’t be solely blamed on Moyes of course, but we were overrun in midfield and looked bereft of ideas throughout the entire game. This is a charge that can indeed be levelled at Moyes.
But it was his reluctance to change things when the team clearly needed a shake-up that was perhaps the most frustrating of Moyes’ part in Sunday’s humbling. Bringing on Danny Welbeck seemed a no-brainer before the hour mark. Robin van Persie was having an absolute nightmare of a time and either needed more support or just simply be replaced. But Moyes refused to budge.
Stubbornness was always a part of Sir Alex’s reign, but he was often willing to change things during games if he felt that it was what he felt his team needed in order to get back into the game. His substitutions became one of the things that defined his time at Manchester United. And yet Moyes stuck rather than twisted. He waited until the 75th minute to make a change, with the game already gone.
Moyes is a good man and it is a shame to see a person lose their job, but I’ve come full circle. It’s time for him to move on. I feel a huge amount of sympathy with him. No-one has experience in taking over from a manager who has stamped such an indelible mark on a club.
A common argument against Moyes is that “most other managers wouldn’t have done such a bad job”; but the same people have followed that up with “but I didn’t expect Moyes to do this badly either”. The truth is that we can never know how Mourinho, Klopp or Ancelotti would have fared in the immediate aftermath of Ferguson’s departure; but I think we can safely assume that any of the aforementioned would have got more out of the current squad this season.
Follow Dan on Twitter, @danstapleton89