Dec 10

Sacking Moyes a costly financial own goal

Tag: Opinion Piece @ 8:00 am

Moyes v Newcastle Dec 2013“The past is yours, but the future is mine,” sang Ian Brown in the Stone Roses’ “She Bangs the Drums”.

Six months after another Mancunian icon saw the most successful manager in its history depart, the past remains very much Sir Alex Ferguson’s, while David Moyes’ present is far from the fasts the club had become accustomed to under his predecessor and the future remains an unknown, arguably menacing, entity.

The dreaded post-Fergie era has begun in the worst possible way, the predicted transition quickly turning into a full scale recession, as United’s shambolic performances on the pitch have seen the title defence all but over after 15 games – those who think otherwise are no longer optimists, but delusional – while the team is, for the first time in a long time, negotiating the rough and unfamiliar seas of mid-table mediocrity.

Crisis – for that’s what United are going through at the moment, and that’s a mere observation, rather than an attempt to sensationalise the circumstances -and the way such situations are dealt with are telling factors about the nature of clubs, fans and players and nowhere has been this more evident than at United this season.

In the first six months of his United career David Moyes has split opinions like very few men have done at Old Trafford before him, certainly to an extent nobody had even come close to over the last two and a half decades or, more specifically, since Sir Alex Ferguson turned the tide around with his first FA Cup triumph in 1990.

The former Everton manager has his faults. While not as unadventurous as during his days on Merseyside, his approach remains hardly what United fans had known for the past 26 years nor, it has to be said, exudes the same swagger and arrogance of Jose Mourinho or the sophisticated philosophies of Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp.

Granted, Moyes hardly represented the most glamorous option to replace the greatest manager British football has ever seen and, yes, his tactics can be blamed as over-defensive and dull – accusations which would make a lot more sense had United been playing with attacking verve throughout the last couple of seasons, which they did not – and the decision to splash £27m on Marouane Fellaini and replace Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching staff might be questionable.

Without wanting to venture into the divide that has emerged among Reds this season, David Moyes is the manager and, as such, he can be criticised and even deserves to be for his team’s failures.

Ed Woodward Dec 2013That, however, is where a line should be drawn, for if there’s one thing Moyes can not be blamed for is for the club’s conduct which has been increasingly shambolic over the last couple of years resembling a train derailing off the tracks since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and, even more crucially from a certain point of view, David Gill have now retired.

During the eight years in the hands of American owners there are those United fans who have either learnt to tolerate/accept the enemy within (conveniently using Sir Alex Ferguson’s public backing of the Glazers to somehow protect them from condemnation) and there are those who stubbornly and confidently continue to deride those who directly or indirectly riddled the club with catastrophic levels of debt.

That situation will remain until such time the Glazers no longer control the club. In either case, the bottom line was rather simple. United kept winning with systematic regularity thanks to a prodigiously talented squad between 2006 and 2009 plus Sir Alex Ferguson’s sheer determination and desire to win in 2011 and 2013 when Fergie’s man management skills papered over the huge cracks emerging through United sides for almost a decade.

Like a student who spends his student loan on holidays and drinks and forgets to pay his rent, United’s over-reliance on Fergie hit home with devastating effects in the first six months without Sir Alex, who performed the impossible by winning the league last season and who would have probably struggled to guide United to a title this campaign.

For years now, United have neither been able to compete financially with Europe’s big spenders – Chelsea, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Spain’s top two – nor have they looked to bridge the financial gap by relying on a brilliant scouting system as the likes of Juventus, Dortmund and Atletico Madrid do.

Those blaming David Moyes for United’s failure to strengthen during the summer’s transfer window fail to realise that even under Fergie, arguably the greatest manager of his generation, United failed to attract the sort of big names – Robin Van Persie being the only notable exception – they successfully managed to lure to Old Trafford before the Glazers’ takeover.

Yes, Moyes could have perhaps spent the £27m he splashed on Fellaini more wisely this season, but shouldn’t the club have provided him with a shrewd, expert, ally to negotiate the transfer window with, rather than a man whose first action was to blatantly lie to everybody who has an ounce of football knowledge by claiming that United could have signed whoever they wanted?

Sure, as the Glazers’ apologists will be more than happy to point out, the size of the debts has decreased in the last couple of years and United have remained successful and generated profit. However, wouldn’t those profit have been put to better use in the transfer window, instead of being destined to service the interests and debts United still face? Or can we blame Moyes for that too?

Moyes’ arrival should have unified United fans, for the transition process could see the club miss out on a top-four spot and therefore on the Champions League revenues the Glazers have taken for granted over the last eight years thus, albeit not immediately, drastically reducing the profitability of their investment therefore increasing the prospect of theredeparture.

Glazers and Woodward NYSEWill the owners pull the plug on Moyes if United’s decline becomes unsustainable for their financial plans or will they stick with him and for how long? Ironically, by backing the new manager with a six-year contract the Glazers could have shot themselves in the foot in comically stupid fashion, for the financial cost of paying off Moyes’ contract would dwarf part of the revenue generated by clinching the European spot that seems increasingly elusive each passing week.

Either the Glazers finally decide that it’s time to fork out cash in the next two transfer windows or even the staunchest of their advocates should accept what the rest of us has known for almost a decade now – their financial plans, however cunningly disguised, are going to be tragically detrimental for the future of Manchester United.

But, of course, those who want them out are simpletons and criticising Moyes for everything that’s wrong with the club remains the only possible choice.

Dan


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Tags: Opinion Piece

15 Responses to “Sacking Moyes a costly financial own goal”

  • The article basically emphasises the general thoughts of quite a few people whopost on this site.The one question I’d like to of asked the suits at ot is “why was there never a short list of names drawn up and a proper process of elimination of candidates carried instead of relying on the recommendations of ferguson and Charlton”?.If it was a case of working within a certain budget,I’m pretty sure there was a lot more better qualified and suitable candidates out there who would of been prepared to take the job under those restrictions, and would of done a damn site better job than moyes is doing.Just appears to me it as a case of “the old boys network”looking after one of their own,can’t see any other logical explanation.As far as im concerned now it should be a case of se short term pain for long term gain.If it’s gonna cost a shit load of money to pay moyes and his backroom staff off, do it, because it appears moyes just isn’t the correct person to take this club forward.Bring in an interim manager till the season ends when a proper inquiry can be conducted why the club got itself in such a mess.A wide variety of opinions should be taken on board before any sort of decision is made before recruiting a new manager.Probably all just wishful thinking because I’ve got a feeling moyes will still be calling the shots at the beginning of next season.

    • @THE RED BARON: I totally agree RB.

      I want Moyes out. And I want him out yesterday.

      I would be happy to see the club pay whatever we need to to get rid of him.

      And then we need to make sure that the next manaager doesn’t get a contract longer than 3 years. I hope this is a lesson to the morons who offered Moyes 6 years.

      But I hear you. Sadly, I too doubt that moyes will get the boot between now and the beginning of next season. . .

  • “Sacking Moyes a costly financial own goal”

    Maybe, but you can always recover from an own goal as long as you don’t leave it too late. Is it time to sack Moyes? I don’t know but things do have to change. At the moment Moyes seems to be like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to make a decision as to which way to turn.I think a lot will depend on what happens over the next 6 or 7 weeks. If it’s another bad transfer window and results don’t improve, then I expect he’ll be out by Valentines day.

  • “The past is yours, but the future is mine”
    If you are looking for song titles or lyrics how about “I promised you a miracle” Simple Minds. It’s what we now need to win the EPL.

  • I’ll be hoping for a serious improvement from now on. If we don’t see a significant improvement, both in terms of results and style, then i hope to God he’s gone by Valentines Day. Maybe sooner if things stay as they are. But, i have a terrible feeling we may be stuck with him for a little while yet. I think it would take a relegation fight before the board thinks about backing out of a 6 year contract.
    I agree totally with those people who say we should have had a proper
    selection process with a shortlist of candidates that we could whittle down based on suitability. Moyes is so unsuitable for the job that had his friend not hand picked him he would be nowhere near it.
    Things like success, philosophy, ability, winning mentality, bravery are all conspicious in there absence when it comes to Moyes.
    The club have created a huge problem for themselves by a) appointing him in the first place and, b) giving him a 6 year contract. Absolutely ludicrous, especially for a man who has never known success, of any kind.
    But to then allow him to hand pick his gang of equally inexperienced, unsuccessful back room staff was bordering on suicidal. Who’s there with Moyes, on a daily basis, that can guide him through problems like this, that can offer advice and support? Giggs? Neville? Strudwick, the fitness cocach? As far as i’m concerned Moyes gave up his right for a “transitional period” when he sacked, or allowed to leave, all the people who he would now benefit from having around. He essentially said, “No, i know you lot have won shit loads, but me and my team of losers knows best, so, there’s the door..”.
    If he’d kept some of those winners around i might be more inclined to be a touch more sympathetic, but i think he’s brought this on hisself.
    That, combined with his love of piss poor tactics, his complete lack of imagination and his inablity to adapt or make any attempt to make the step up to our level, means i’m currently counting the days until he’s gone. Regardless of how much of an expensive mistake it turns out to be for United.
    Fix the problem now before it gets any worse, or any more costly.

    • @BigRed: I think the glazers have got to take a long hard look at our current situation and make a decision based on the evidence in front of them, not on mealy mouth comments from ex employees of the club. All you hear from all these ex pros is we’re in transition, give him time and he’ll get it Wright….blah blah. What a load of bull.Like big Ron said, When you take on a job the size of managing utd, you have to hit the ground running, simple as that. Moyes knew the squad he was inheriting and the size of the task involved before he took the job, so he’s got no excuses on that part.Sometimes though its just a case of the wrong person at the wrong club.I just believe moyes doesn’t have the Wright mindset or philosophy to manage a club of our size and I base that on what’s unfolding before our eyes . Another shit performance again tonight and Sunday and I think the call for moyes’s head will start gaining momentum.If he can drag a performance out of the team for the next two fixtures, he might buy himself a bit of time. Be interesting to see how this is gonna pan out.

  • If Moyes gets sacked,then Woodward must get the boot as well.Having said that,
    i dont believe that it would be wise to get rid of moyes just yet.The squad is not doing their part.These are handsomely paid athletes who seem as if they are merely going through the motions.Its a royal disgrace!Moyes needs o get his bloody act together.i can’t recall seeing him play the 4-4-2 system whilst he coached Everton FC,yet he continues to stick with when he comes to United.We dont even have enough, capable and talented wingers to make it work.im not even going to get started on our central midfield.He needs to clear out the squad and promote players that are hungry to make a consistent impact.this season has gone to shit anyway.We might as well give some new,young faces a run.recall Lingard and Powell during january and add them to the fray.Whats the worst that can happen?we already lost to midtable teams at old trafford.

  • Thanks Dan for bringing this important point up. Glazers have two options:

    1) Fire DM and pay him some of the 5.5 miillion per year of remaining 5.5 years of contract + other coaches’ packages: at least 15 million. Then, Glazers would have to find and hire another coach and likely pay at least same level of salary and possible sign-on bonus. Now they are 15-20 million in hole with same exact team.

    2) Keep DM, give him the 15-20 million they would have spent if they fired him and ask him to invest in squad. Rumors say 15 million for some 25-year old midfielder at Cruziero with an ironic name (Everton) :lol: . Even if DM still brings team down, at least the value is invested into squad (assuming player is of decent quality).

    I do not see a reason to fire DM, except “feel good” factor as we are 9th and fans cannot do anything about it…

    COME DM, STEP UP!!!!

  • Great article Dan – balanced and objective.

    There’s not much more I can add that hasn’t been debated ad nauseum here, except perhaps that in an ideal world Fergie’s successor would have spent a season in the wings, learning the club without initially being front and centre. That would have required Fergie to stay on another year and his successor be available/willing to play second fiddle. Unrealistic perhaps, but it’s also surprising to me given the length of his tenure that none of the backroom staff (e.g. Rene, Ole etc) were groomed over the years for the job. Why did it all need to be so hastily arranged, and on top of it, confounded by Gill’s simultaneous departure? It just wreaks of amateurism and poor planning from country’s biggest club and it’s a reflection of Fergie’s omnipotence that he was able chose the time and manner of his departure while apparently no-one at the club ever considered having a succession plan until the day actually arrived. Quite remarkable, regardless of whether you think about it as a pre-eminent football club or a huge business.

    • @ForeverRed: Yeah shockingly handled.

      I love your idea of grooming someone for a year before they took over.

      I would have loved to have seen Mourinho or Guardiola being included in the backroom staff for a year before taking over from Fergie.

      Love that suggestion. It makes so much sense.

  • I would like to take this opportunity(not sure why I’m talking like this) to take a very controversial look at reality versus theory and subjective emotionalism. Here is the thing. The Glazers are the common enemy of nearly all Manchester United fans worldwide. I honestly understand why people hate them but I find it factually unjustified. If you don’t like them because they are bald and not so good looking or because they are Americans or whatever,then say so. But if the issue is their management of the business and club of Manchester United then say so with supporting facts. Reasonably logical facts. “They are leaches and parasites” is not a logical fact. “They have been draining the club financially and running it to the ground” remains a theoretical opinion until such time as it is supported by such facts as actual recorded detrimental cash withdrawals, significant outlays in dividends, proceedings for filing for bankruptcy, significant disposals of major assets etc. If such facts are missing all you are saying in English is “blah blah blah” with a lot of heated passion. I’m not here to defend the Glazier regime but to argue against putting our collective heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the real problems. Our biggest problem is a bit more deep rooted than the Glaziers or Moyes or Woodward. It really begins with Alex Ferguson and his latter years. The approach he took was not the progressive approach post-2008. When you look at it,when the Glaziers took over I think we waited one year to break the dominance of Chelsea which actually preceded them. The first players brought in were the likes of Evra and Vidic. Then we bought Michael Carrick and immediately from a team that could not even qualify for the Europa League,then the UEFA Cup,following CL group stage elimination,we became a team that could go toe to toe with a then powerful AC Milan team only failing to compete in the last semi final match due to major injuries,lack of squad depth and fatigue. Check out the fixture list that week when Milan tore us apart. But we had bamboozled Roma in the quarter finals. The signs were there and that season proved a powerful learning period in the careers of both Rooney and Ronaldo. Particularly the latter. Next season the depth and experience issue was covered by the major purchases of Tevez,Nani,Anderson and Hargreaves. By the end of that season we were the best team in Europe. But in all this, all people were saying is the Glaziers are the cause of our problems. What problems? There is no management regime in the history of this club that has brought as much success as this very hated regime. Ronaldo decided to move on and the following year Bayern Munich confirmed a substantial bid had been made by United for Ribery. In all honesty there really aren’t that many players to replace Ronaldo with but I salute Ferguson for at least trying to get Ribery. If I’m not mistaken,Rummenige,then Bayern GM confirmed the bid to be around £60m. At least to me that was the kind of policy Ferguson should have maintained. But as far as central midfield is concerned, Ferguson really screwed things up. Getting Berbatov was a logical move. He was a world class forward by that time. But why did Ferguson neglect to inject a major investment or two in midfield? Mind you it was Ferguson’s decision or rather indecision not the Glaziers. Our biggest problem is not availability of funds but a dearth in technical standards “on the pitch”. Poor management and coaching. I understand that Paul Scholes was still a force to reckon with even post-2010,but what about the replacement of Hargreaves. Why did Ferguson place all our hopes in Anderson and Cleverely? Why buy all sorts of wingers and strikers and defenders and purchase zero midfielders from 2009 to present? I’m sorry Nick Powell doesn’t count. It’s this stubbornness that has given us multiple problems. Fletcher,Hargreaves,Scholes have never been replaced. Carrick has never been given cover or competition. Not because money wasn’t available. Midfielders are bought and sold for the same currency and payment arrangements as defenders like Phil Jones and Smalling or strikers like Bebe and Hernandez or Berbatov or RvP. It’s possible to pay the same 20m Euros that it cost to buy Kagawa and use it to buy Thiago Alcantara or Daniele de Rossi or Nuri Sahin or Kevin Strootman or Luis Gustavo. A million good midfielders can be bought for that kind of money. They don’t demand diamonds and precious stones to buy midfielders. What was the genuine idea in wasting such an amount on Ashley Young? Money was made available but it was misused. One of the simple proofs of why I say Ferguson is to blame,is the fact that he has struggled to get to grips with what central midfield means. It is clear you are not in line with reality when you neglect one of the world’s rising stars in midfield for an inexperienced fullback and Ji Sung Park. The fact that Wayne Rooney has had to play in midfield is an example of that pride and stubbornness. Everyone kept saying “look,you need to sort your midfield” and he says “I’m Ferguson. You think I don’t know what I’m doing. Rooney can play there,Valencia can play there,Anderson and Cleverely,the century old duo of Giggs and Scholes,Rafael”. That was the problem. So let’s not kid ourselves. This has nothing to do with the Glaziers. Ferguson screwed us over. If he had simply heeded to what the whole world was saying and brought in just two quality midfielders over since 2010,we would not be this crap. The other part of the Ferguson problem ironically,is his legacy and success. You don’t argue against his success seems to be the rule even amongst the fans. If he says jump in a lake,we dive head first because he won the treble. There is no way the Glaziers would have survived without listening to whatever Ferguson says. No one can question him. To make it worse,there is actually no one who is not under Ferguson who knows even a tiny bit about football. David Gill knows zero about football beyond admin and finance. We don’t have a technical director or an auxiliary technical team that is not under the manager’s authority. Clubs on the continent have such teams and these are the guys actually responsible for recruiting coaches. Madrid had people like Arrigo Sacchi in the early to mid 00s. Barca had guys like Andoni Zubizarreta,who I think is now at Man City. These guys maintain the technical standard and direction of the club. They see to it that the team maintains the right philosophy and whilst there tends to be conflict at times with the coaches they are necessary for keeping a balance. A manager cannot just make independent decisions that are major without consultation. He can’t just appoint his successor. He can’t just decide to neglect a young player in whom the club has placed great hopes. Everything the manager does is monitored by an independent body so to speak. You wanna change tactics then please explain. You wanna resign,then by all means. See you later. You can leave your suggestions in the suggestion box with the receptionist.

    We already have a capable squad but we allowed Ferguson to run the show even in his retirement home. He chose the worst possible replacement who couldn’t even master a very simple transfer window. So in fact,this may seem like a U-Turn,but I actually do blame the Glaziers. They should have been diligent enough to know they had to make very controversial decisions. They had to look at the complaints people were making and really scrutinised Ferguson and his policies and research on what control measures had to be taken to make sure Ferguson doesn’t become some kind of Xerxes. This is now the opportunity the Glaziers have to get involved in restructuring the football side of Manchester United because everything else is going well apart from the football. They have nothing to lose because they are hated so they just need to make the decisions that are right for the club. Introduce a technical director. Let him come with his team that sets up structures from the youth right up to the first team. A philosophy should be made gospel throughout the club. The manager and various coaches should know it and preach it. The players and trainees should know it. It should be followed by all. The scouting team should work directly under the technical director and the manager is given a list of targets to pursue. We don’t want to turn into a glorified Everton containing the ,Fellainis and Baines of this world

    • @Jay Wire: Very good argument.

      I disagree with a few things but for the most part well written.

      I don’t know about a technical director though. Wouldn’t such an appointment cause a power struggle between the manager and the TD?

      I feel that if we get a good enough manager we don’t need a technical director.

      But when we’re dealing with a rubbish manager like David Moyes extreme over-sight is called for indeed.

      Maybe going forward it wouldn’t hurt to have someone to oversee the entire club.

      But thats kind of what Ferguson was doing any ways.

      Apparently he left the day to day training and coaching of the squad to Phelan and Muelensteen while he busied himself with other matters.

      I suspect that one of the reasons that Moyes sucks so bad (other than the fact that he is just not United caliber/quality) is that he coaches the team personally and therefore doesn’t have the time and the perspective Ferguson had to make better decisions.

      Ferguson for all his brilliance really did blunder with Pogba but that’s one of a few mistakes amongst a litany of master strokes.

      So in David MOyes’ case a TD is needed.

      But for a decent manager like Guardiola, Klopp or Mourinho it would be better to leave them do their thing uninhibited.

    • @Jay Wire: Much as I dislike the ownership model myself, there is indeed no direct evidence that money has not been available under the Glazers and Fergie has always maintained it was there if he needed it. In fact the availability of money has been confirmed by that spent on the likes of Young, Valencia, Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani, Berbatov, Bebe, Tosic, RvP, Jones, Smalling, Kagawa, De Gea, Buttner, Fellani etc. You can add up the numbers yourself on what the precise outlay was here – I’m guessing in the region of 250M. The problem is, how many of these signings have and a significant impact on the 1st XI? 2 or 3? And therein lies the big issue here – not absence of money, but too much money spent on either the wrong positions or sub-standard personnel. However much we try and spin it, this is the cold hard truth and only one man (bar the Fellani fiasco) was responsible for these decisions.

  • It is very easy to blame Ferguson. But he still left us with a team capable of finishing in the top four.

    It is true that our defence is on its last legs and Ferguson failed to develop Jones and Smalling into top quality centre halfs; and the loss of Pogba was a huge mistake; and players like Nani and Anderson and Valencia and Young are not justifying the £60M spent on them; while Evans, Cleverley and Welbeck are not in the same class as the golden generation of Ferguson’s fledglings.

    But Moyes has gone about everything the wrong way.

    He pulled the plug on all the deals Ferguson had in the pipeline such as Thiago and Garay both of whom would have vastly improved our squad.

    He sacked the same backroom which had helped us win a title last year despite Ferguson strongly advising him not to. Indeed by all accounts Ferguson deliberately delegated responsibility over the coaching side of things to make it easier for his successor.

    His training methods could well explain why all our senior players such as Carrick, Rio, Vidic and Van Persie have struggled with injuries all season.

    His nonsensical rotation at the start of the season clearly left many players completely off the pace.

    Every media statement he gives confirms the idea that he is not worthy of respect.

    And the less said about Fellaini the better.

    Moyes seems to have the same stubborn streak as Ferguson but without the charisma to back it up. He wants to do things his way even though we had a structure in place that achieved 20+ years of success.

    You just need to look at Chelsea to see that if managers know their limitations EG Avram Grant and Roberto Di Matteo you can continue to succeed by just not fixing something which isn’t totally broken.

    With Vilas Boas you can at least say he is too clever for his own good. With Moyes all you can say is that he is a dinosaur.

    • @colver: When Moyes was appointed one of the conditions of his employment should have been that Fergie’s backroom staff were to remain at their posts for a minimum two year settling in period. This would have allowed Moyes time to settle in himself and to be guided by those in the know as regards the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. The other issue was the timing of Gill’s departure – at the same time as Fergie. Gill should have been asked to stay on for at least one more season to oversee the handover from a financial perspective. Of course all this is now history and we are stuck with what we have for the time being. Moyes will continue to give the impression, albeit periodically, that things are on the right track interspersed with them falling back into mediocrity again. This sort of thing will, in all likelihood, continue for this season and maybe next as well before the club decides enough is enough. I agree with the view that Ferguson remains influential and will back his protégé through thick and thin. It all could be very costly. One thing I don’t fully understand is why so many pundits in the game still say Moyes was the right man for the job. Or are they saying, given parsimonious owners and the lack of real money to compete, he was the only man for the job? In other words you get what you pay for!

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