Are United becoming the new Arsenal?

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187578174Amongst all the debate and speculation surrounding David Moyes’ position at Manchester United, it raises many different opinions and views on the future of the club. One thing is for sure, domestically we’ve been appalling. No excuses, it’s been unacceptable.

There are plenty who feel Moyes should have been sacked ten times over. Others feel he needs time, some claiming that giving him until Christmas would be a suffice period to elapse for him to turn things around. After all, he has been awarded a six year contract; to sack him after less than a year would be ludicrous, right?

There would be no sense in sacking David Moyes before the summer in my opinion. The season, domestically, is over. We are playing for pride in that aspect. But, credit where credit is due, we are still in Europe. Having drawn the best team in the world, we are involved in one of the few ties that remain on a knife-edge following leg one. So let’s see where that takes us.

But when summer does arrive, the board will have to assess the campaign. Should the miracle happen and we win the Champions League, is that enough to take the heat off of the manager? Or is David Moyes destined to follow the path of Roberto Di Matteo, and find himself jobless after conquering Europe?

I believe, if we were to become Kings of Europe again, it would save Moyes.

But if, as predicted, the journey in Europe comes to an end at the Allianz Arena, there may be slightly tougher questions for Moyes to answer at his end of season assessment. In that case, the season has been an unmitigated disaster. There is no hiding from that for anyone. It’s been verging on shambolic at times and I, nor I’m sure any of you, wish to see another like it.

However, if the noises coming out of the club are to be believed, the board will keep faith in ‘The Chosen One’, for a little longer at least.

The question coming from many quarters then would most likely be, why?

Well that’s obvious boys and girls. It’s because United have a tradition of sticking with their manager.

But is that really our tradition? The notion clearly comes from the fact that our previous manager, who just so happened to be the greatest of all time, was at the club for over twenty six years. It’s well documented that he didn’t get off to the best of starts and, arguably, could have lost his job, but alas, the club kept faith.

But football was a different game back then. Success was not on such a tight timescale and the patience of fans had a slightly longer lifespan. Not only that, but Alex Ferguson was a proven winner. He’d broken the Old Firm dominance in Scotland and had even taken Aberdeen to European success.

In a nutshell, based on his track record, he was more than worth being patient for.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous article, ‘The Chosen One’, my first concern with David Moyes being appointed was that he held no such success. Sure, he’d stabilised Everton and established them as a top ten Premier League side, but there was no real progression year on year. There was nothing on his C.V that stood out and said: ‘This is the man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson’.

But, nonetheless, the appointment was made and many fans fears have come to fruition. Any manager of a top Premier League side with the record of David Moyes this season would most definitely have been sacked by now.

Anyone but Arsenal, that is.

This so called tradition is being used as a reason by the United board as to why Moyes will keep his job into next season. But football has changed. It’s a results business more than ever and success must be instant. Sir Alex knew that, that’s why he kept his job for the length of time he did. Not because United were patient with him, but because his record was enviable. He was a relentless winner and because of that, our expectations as fans became higher.

I’m worried that United are going to fall into a trap of blindly following a tradition, that isn’t really the club’s tradition. Backing a manager that isn’t up to the job, in the interest of not being like every other football club out there. Sir Alex was a one off. Football has changed dramatically and you must move with it. Otherwise, you stagnate.

We are becoming what Arsenal have been for the past decade. When ‘The Invincibles’ broke up, Wenger failed to replace them. In the time between him building that team and it dispersing, football had moved on. Transfer fees had gone up a level, as had wages, as had player’s attitudes. Wenger hasn’t quite seemed able to accept that and has desperately tried to find the winning formula through old methods.

If you look at their trophy cabinet from the past nine years, you’ll see it hasn’t worked.

Sure, they have come close on more than one occasion, but that club’s tradition of winning trophies has been well and truly blown out of the door. They may well win the FA Cup this year; in fact they must, but does that make all those trophy barren years justified?

Arsenal are frightened to sack Arsene Wenger. It comes partly from respect for the work he has done at the club, which no one can deny has been terrific to a point. But Arsenal are another team that pride themselves on sticking by their manager. Effectively, Wenger won’t leave, until he says he’s going.

It’s a scary path and, by sticking by Moyes, I worry that it’s the same one that United are considering heading down. The club cannot be scared to make a decisive call on the manager’s future; it’s the same principle as a football club not being held to ransom by a player. The club’s incredible history is not about sticking by a manager, it’s about having incredible men at the helm who built incredible teams.

Moyes’ appointment of course was heavily influenced by Sir Alex Ferguson. I would love to know his frank and honest feelings of what’s happened this season and where he would place the blame. One thing is for sure, none of it is his to take and the fans who aimed abuse at him recently at Old Trafford should be ashamed of themselves.

But, having read his book, one of the running themes through it was his acknowledgement that he can never admit when he is wrong. It is something we will never hear him say in relation to David Moyes’ appointment, I’m sure of that, and, who knows, it may yet prove to be the correct decision.

However, if, as many believe, things don’t pick up, someone is going to have to bite the bullet and make the correct decision by pulling the plug on Moyes’ reign. The sad aspect of it is that that decision will come when the matters on the pitch spill over and have a detrimental effect on the Glazers’ bank balance.

My prediction is that Moyes will keep his job and lead United into the 2014/15 season. But it surely must be on the condition that, come Christmas, we are up challenging at the top of the league. Not top four but top two.

It’s decisions today that can have an effect on the ultimate future of a football club. We made the right one all those years ago by sticking by a winner like Sir Alex and must be cut throat now in our dealings with David Moyes.

Manchester United is unique. Not because we have some sort of loyalty to our manager, but because we always succeed.

Now that’s the kind of tradition we must stick by.

Greg

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