The calls from sections of the Manchester United fans for David Moyes to be sacked are unfair and somewhat ironic given the clubs history. As the new boss tries to find his feet as Sir Alex Fergusons replacement, it may be worth reminding the fans that their beloved former coach of the past twenty six years also struggled when he arrived. Three years in to Sir Alex’s reign, the Scotsman was on the verge of getting the sack only to be saved by a late Mark Robins goal which kick started the revival and eventually led to a sustained period of success for the club. Had Robins not scored against Nottingham Forest when he did, then the United history books could look very different.
As Ferguson found it takes time to build a winning team and influence the masses, something that Moyes is now discovering. The difference between the two is the expectations placed on them that are now dramatically altered. When Ferguson arrived from Aberdeen in 1986, United were in a transitional period, starved of glory for the longest time and in desperate need of rebuilding from the ground up. Ferguson changed everything but most noticeably enforced two changes: a new winning philosophy where nothing was impossible and a renewed focus on youth development. Both would galvanize United and bring success back to Old Trafford but it took years before either started to bare fruits.
Moyes comes into the job with the unenviable task of trying to follow on from the most successful football manager of all time. What Ferguson achieved in the game is unlikely to ever be done so again so coming in to replace him is a near impossible task. The best that Moyes can hope for is that he continues United’s proud winning history by guiding them to yet more trophies and league titles but to do so he needs to craft the team in his mould. After a poor summer transfer window which should be blamed on a bumbling and inexperienced chief executive rather than Moyes himself, the United team that takes the field each week is still Ferguson’s. With the exception of Felliani, who is struggling to prove his elevated transfer fee, Moyes is fighting against an established dressing room, one that has lived and breathed Fergusons mantras for years. Added into this, the departure of old heads like Paul Scholes and the continuing absence of influential players like Darren Fletcher has made it harder for Moyes to bring his new players in line with his way of thinking. The one saving grace is that Ryan Giggs still plays a vital role at the club and now as part of Moyes backroom staff, he is one ally the new manager should turn too. Giggs however has not yet stepped up to the mark and used his influence on the players for Moyes benefit. Perhaps his love affair with the club comes secondary behind his affection for the man who has guided him through his entire career, Sir Alex.
Having spent ten years at Everton it was Moyes loyalty and ability to manage under tight constraints that attracted United to him in the first place and made him the only candidate in the race to replace the retiring Ferguson. But managing Everton and managing United are two completely different ballgames. At Everton success was dictated by the seasonal performances in both the league and cups. At United, success is ranked by winning each game. United’s first season without Ferguson has not started as expected with defeats to arch rivals Liverpool and Manchester City hard to swallow. But taken into context United still lay in an ok position only 6 points off the pace with a large chunk of the season still ahead of them.
Yes some results have not gone their way but in the most interesting start to a new Premiership season in years with three of the top clubs in the country operating under new management, it’s hardly unexpected. Look at the other front runners Chelsea and Manchester City who have also had faltering starts to the new campaign yet talk of quick fire changes at the top have not arisen yet. A majority of the United faithful are willing to give Moyes time to craft his vision and with the continued backing of Sir Alex and the club, Moyes should and will continue as normal. Sections of the home support calling for his head should be reminded that Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor was Fergusons legacy. After all history could have been very different if Robins hadn’t manage to covert that chance against Forest. Moyes will find his Robins and when he does, a new United era can begin.