Going into Sundays Community Shield match against Wigan, Manchester United were clear favourites but the importance of the win for David Moyes in particular cannot be understated as he tries to pick up where Sir Alex Ferguson left off. The new United boss knows he has a challenge on his hands to continue the winning traditions started by Ferguson, who swooped up 38 trophies for United in 26 years in charge. Yesterday’s 2-0 victory over Championship side Wigan sees Moyes pick up his first trophy and relieves temporarily some of the pressure that comes with his new job.
It’s not been the fairy-tale start for the former Everton boss who has had a torrid pre-season so far with on field performances somewhat substandard and off field problems mounting up. The failure to capture any new players has not gone unnoticed with moves for Barcelona pair Thiago and Cesc Fàbregas failing to bear fruit with the former opting to join Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich revolution only days after apparently committing his future to United. After the failure to sign Thiago, Moyes switched his focus to Fàbregas in an attempt to persuade the former Arsenal skipper to end his second spell at Barcelona and move back to the Premiership. The star of Spain’s European Cup win decision to stay with the Catalan giants instead to moving to Old Trafford was another blow to Moyes who is desperate to strengthen his midfield before the end of the transfer window. Moyes knows he has a glaring hole in the middle of the park with no one to fill the void left by the retiring Paul Scholes. Michael Carrick has done enough to prove he is worth a starting spot but who plays next to him is still an issue. Scotland captain Darren Fletcher is the obvious choice but he is still out after being diagnosed with IBS, an inflammatory bowel disease. He was expected to make pre-season training but a flare up has ruled him out for the foreseeable future, adding weight and emphasize to Moyes search. He is now likely to return to Everton to try and grab Marouane Fellaini (possibly as part of a joint bid alongside Leighton Baines) but Everton will resist the temptation to sell as the duo are key to Roberto Martinez’s plans.
And then there is Wayne Rooney. The striker has been difficult to manage ever since Moyes took over with speculation around a move to Chelsea mounting every day. Rooney has had his head turned by Jose Mourinho’s interest but is not acting as professionally as expected for a player of his experience. He has thrown his proverbial toys out of the pram in move that makes Luis Suarez attempts to leave Liverpool look tame. Moyes has a huge decision on his hands about whether to force the player to stay with promises of further fame and fortune or to cut the troublesome striker loose. One thing is for sure that Ferguson would not have stood for such petulance which Moyes will be aware of and will be keen to not set an early precedence for the rest of his squad. He has less than 20 days to decide as a move will have to happen in advance of the transfer window closing just in case Moyes needs to reinforce his front line.
Despite these off field dramas and failure of his team to click on the pitch during the pre-season friendlies, it appears as though United finally began to click yesterday, albeit against a weaker Wigan side that they faced last year. The big test will be next Saturdays clash with Michael Laudrup’s Swansea who is sure to be a tougher opposition after strengthening well in the summer. Moyes will want to kick the new season off with three points as he looks to add further trophies to his United collection.