Manchester United would have been better off by keeping David Moyes

Ben Mountain

For all of you that cry each time he opens his mouth and adorn yourself with a ‘Special One’ t-shirt, calm down. We’re not suggesting that Jose Mourinho isn’t a top manager. But, sadly, he’s come along a little too late. Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy has already been shattered.

Sir Alex is the greatest manager that England has ever seen. Period. No other manager in the history of English football has ever commanded such an imperious reign over one colossal club like he once did. But that wasn’t always the case. Having lead a playing and managerial career that raised very few eyebrows, Ferguson certainly didn’t enter Manchester as a proven gaffer. Far from it. Three wins from ten games at the helm of the Scottish national side saw Fergie take over at Manchester United with much still to prove.

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And for the first few seasons, he proved only one thing: that he really did still have much to prove. His first season saw United finish a horrific 11th place and he didn’t win the league with them until seven long seasons later. In terms of cup victories, Fergie had only slightly better luck. The FA Cup in his fourth season saw him keep his job after mounting pressure for his dismissal, having finished 11th and 13th in the league across consecutive seasons. He then won the Cup Winners’ Cup and the League Cup before that first Premier League top spot. Nothing unimpressive there, then. But compare those years to the ones which he enjoyed later. 13 Premier League titles, 10 Community Shields, 5 FA Cups and 2 Champions Leagues.

Fergie won 32 different types of awards. Not individual ones, but types. And the vast majority of this success came after his first four or five seasons. But, boy, how it came.

When SAF hung up his hairdryer at United, the club were left in disarray. His successor, the fellow Scotsman David Moyes, had quite the task on his hands. In similar fashion to Ferguson, Moyes had lead a fairly average playing and managerial career until his break through at Everton, like Ferguson did before his at United. In his first three seasons with The Toffees after signing in 2002, David Moyes’ luck fluctuated somewhat. Finishing a respectable 7th place in his first, before plummeting down to 17th in his second and then rocketing up to 4th in his third, Moysies’ first few years in the role were characterised by mixed success, much like Ferguson’s were at United.

The remaining eight seasons at the Merseyside club saw continuity and stability, as Everton spent each season flirting with the top four from around sixth place. Managing to make two semi-finals and a final across the FA and League Cup as well as four forays into Europe, David Moyes eventually enjoyed a very successful career at his over-achieving Everton. Ultimately, he transformed them from relegation strugglers to a thriving team who pushed for Europe each season. He was the perfect candidate to take over at United, then. All he needed was a little time and he’d soon bring about that much needed stability at Old Trafford once again. Just like Fergie. All he needed was a little time.

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Only David Moyes wasn’t given time. He was given just over 11 months. Although, unlike his predecessor, Moyes finished 7th place and won the Community Shield. An under achievement? Definitely. The absolute definition of failure that warranted a contract termination over five years premature? Hmm…

Had David Moyes been given the time that he was at Everton, and Fergie first was at United, then maybe things would have turned out for the better. Sacking him certainly didn’t help, as Louis van Gaal proved. And now, even with Jose Mourinho and the world’s most expensive footballer at their disposal, United are still vastly under achieving. What harm would they have done by giving Moyes another season or two? If he’d have had a poor season like the first one, then it wouldn’t have mattered, The Red Devils were never going to be anything near as good as they were under Ferguson anyway. And if he’d had a better season? Well, he would have begun to pick up the momentum that he needed and introduce the winning way that the red half of Manchester were used to and craved again.

But, hey, we can say that with the benefit of hindsight. If only the United board had been able to employ that.

So, it therefore begs the question, why don’t clubs – especially those who aren’t risking relegation – ever try to give their managers a reasonable amount of time to make a change like Fergie was allowed? For a job as tough as succeeding the Scot after all those years, for a manager who has proven that he needs time to fully establish a strong squad, surely those at the top of the club had the sense to give the fella some more time. Okay, they could possibly flunk another season. But they’ve done that before, so who cares?

Is the memory and knowledge of chairmen across the country really so poor that they can’t look back to a time when an under achieving manger, whom a club owed nothing to, was given a reasonable amount of time to settle in before commanding the single greatest managerial reign ever seen on English soil? We’re not suggesting that David Moyes would ever come close to Alex Ferguson’s level but he’d certainly would have come closer than LvG did.

Having said all of that, it does come as quite a relief that United dropped their one slim chance of salvation in favour of bigger names and maintaining their global image; because, let’s be honest, weren’t we all bored of seeing them lift the trophies anyway? No Fergie time for Moysey and subsequently Mourinho is on a pathway to failure. Ferguson’s United legacy has been ruined and it will never be re-established. Odds on United to be relegated next season, then.


Not sure what’s more shocking: the sacking of Moysey, or that fact that these United players are still playing…

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