Connect with us

Opinion Piece

What next for Moyes and United?

Manchester-United-v-Swansea-City-FA-Cup-Third-Round-2992551The first working Monday of the year is a bad enough day without having its misery compounded by external factors. Unfortunately, if you happen to be a Red, today was made even worse by yesterday’s spineless, embarrassing, yet utterly predictable defeat against Swansea.

The numbers alone are ominous – a fourth defeat in the last six games at Old Trafford, another competition that disappears with the season barely five months old and a first third round elimination since 2010, when Jermaine Beckford gave Leeds fans their only reason to cheer in about a decade.

Forget about the fact that United haven’t lifted the FA Cup for 10 years and that it would have been good to reach the fourth round, particularly considering that the possible opponents in the fourth round were Crawley, Bristol City or Birmingham and that with the league all but gone the FA Cup represented a concrete chance of silverware.

The manner of the defeat was as humbling as the result, with United showing every single one of their limits, deficiencies with which we’ve become so accustomed to throughout this season that one wonders whether we knew our team at all.

Injuries limited the options at David Moyes’ disposal, but there can’t be any excuses for the catastrophic lack of rhythm and paucity of ideas in the middle of the park, where Tom Cleverley produced yet another typically insipid performance, while Antonio Valencia confirmed himself as one of the most mono-dimensional players in history and Shinji Kagawa can now be classified alongside Juan Sebastian Veron in the “great player, but unfortunately not with us” category.

A season that had started as one of transition has quickly turned into one of decline – at least the fall from grace has been swift, rather than long and tortuous – leaving United into a territory that has been extremely unfamiliar to them from the moment Sir Alex Ferguson lifted the FA Cup in 1990.

The main scapegoat is, rather predictably, David Moyes. The United manager was never welcome by some fans, who considered him too inexperienced for coping with a club of United’s expectations and tradition, while his lack of silverware and reputation for boring football only compounded his lack of appeal.

Granted, Moyes has struggled to make the leap from Everton to United and his tactics have seldom got the juices of those on the terraces going but, while he could do with some media training, to lay the blame solely at his doorstep would be a ludicrous and incredibly short-sighted exercise.

Moyes has undoubtedly made some mistakes – namely wasting £27m on Marouane Fellaini and repeatedly ignoring Wilfried Zaha, when the other wingers have been appalling – but he has been dramatically let down by the board, who thought well of replacing David Gill with a man capable of selling sand in the Sahara, but about as adequate in the murky waters of the transfer window as a stripper at a funeral, and by some of his senior players, who seem unwilling to take responsibility for the shambles unfolding around them.

Those who still believe Moyes is the right man for the job, on the other hand, struggle to see that while consistency is still of paramount importance in modern football, the sport is not what it was when Fergie arrived from Aberdeen in 1986 and the United manager’s six-year contract could soon become an even heavier burden on his shoulders.

Until David Moyes wins a trophy at United, he’ll always be considered Fergie’s man. Unfortunately for him, while that tag might not necessarily be true, he has been left with Fergie squad which, despite what many continue to believe, is far from vintage, even if these same men won the title last season.

Considering the investments that City, Chelsea and even Arsenal and Liverpool made in the summer, even Fergie himself would have struggled to finish higher than third this season, which makes last summer’s lack of business in the transfer window even more catastrophic.

United have been in desperate need of reinforcements in midfield from the moment they were obliterated by Barcelona in 2009 – some would, rightly, argue that we should have brought players in after Roy Keane’s acrimonious departure in 2005 – but Fergie’s brilliance and the quality of the rest of the squad masqueraded United’s limits in the middle of the park.

To satisfy the Glazers’ greed – for those looking for a culprit for our current predicament, here’s a clue: they speak with an American accent and have been at Old Trafford since 2005 – United opted to paper over the cracks rather than address their obvious deficiencies, to the point where now the squad that once would have benefited from some minor tweaking requires a major overhaul.

Having bottled the summer transfer window in tragic fashion, United now find themselves looking at the January transfer window like a castaway looking for something to cling on in the hope it will steer him to safety but, rather predictably, we are already being treated to the familiar excuses regarding how difficult it is to sign players in January and how expensive they can be.

Well, who would have thought? Manchester United don’t get players served on a plate to them and, to add to insult, other clubs dare to demand financial retribution.

The situation is quite simple. Either United have money available – a lie the Glazers have successfully perpetrated for years – and should therefore spend it, or it’s time to accept that the bar has been lowered and we can forget about finishing in the top four, let alone winning trophies.

The arrogance that still leads the board and some of the fans to think that players and managers would jump at the prospect of playing for United is nothing short of staggering either. For the majority of European and South American players, United are simply one of the big Premier League clubs, one that seems in decline and, crucially, one incapable to compete financially with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, not to mention with other European heavyweights.

That certainly isn’t Moyes’ fault, and while Jose Mourinho or Jurgen Klopp could have done better than him, neither would have turned Tom Cleverley into a commanding midfielder or Ashley Young into a winger regularly capable of beating his man and deliver a cross.

A squad in desperate need to reinforcements, a GM incapable of securing the required players and owners who couldn’t care less about their club and the fans. If anything, this season is finally lifting the curtain on all that’s rotten at United.

20 times, 20 times Man United. At this rate we could be singing that for a long, long while.