Monday, January 6, 2014

The Moyes Dilemma - Ferguson's Last Act?

Is is all David Moyes' fault?

Should he be sacked after half a season?

No, and no.

David Moyes has taken Manchester United to the semi-final of the League Cup and qualified from the group in the Champions League - but that's not enough. I'm sure the fans wouldn't have cared that much that they went out of the FA Cup last season because it wasn't a high priority, but Manchester United fans must now be realists - they can't compete for the League title or the Champions League with the players they have.

Alex Ferguson got every last drop out of Giggs, Vidic, Ferdinand and Scholes. He was somewhat lucky that Man City had a huge hangover after they won the league the previous year. Chelsea and Arsenal were a mess and Ferguson exploited that. But he also knew when to get out. You don't win as much as he did without foresight.

And what can Moyes do with the squad he has? Rooney, van Persie and Carrick have been injured; Fellaini was a poor panic buy; and the average talents of Young, Valencia, Nani and Cleverly can no longer be masked by Rooney and and van Persie. The fact that 18 year old Adnan Januzaj is being hailed as the savior is a sign that times are tough.

Januzaj can play. Welbeck is in good form. De gea is one of the top 3 keepers in the league. But who else is there that would get in the Chelsea or Man City team? They would get in the Villa, Swansea, West Brom or maybe Everton teams, but Evans isn't great, Evra looks past it and the Brazilian twins haven't really fulfilled their potential.

Moyes was never going to turn down Ferguson's invitation to succeed him, but should it have been Ferguson's choice? No. Moyes had done well at Everton, but never really brought through top class players or challenged for honors. Finishing 5th with Baines, Fellaini, Howard etc. was a good achievement, but Manchester United needed a complete overhaul, and Moyes didn't really have a history of that.

He shouldn't have replaced all of Ferguson's staff, not straight away anyway. He needed the help of Micky Phelan and Rene Meulensteen. They may have undermined him a little, but they could have helped with identifying the weaknesses and potential transfer targets to replace them. Buying Fellaini at the last minute won't solve the lack of creativity - nor will running Januzaj into the ground in his first full season.

But sacking Moyes now accomplishes nothing. The players are not quite up to it any more. He needs time to shape a squad, not just the first team. A few signings in the summer (not panic January signings) will help, but until then, Moyes should concentrate on trying to win the League Cup and finishing 4th. That would be a very successful season with what he has to work with.

If he loses Rooney and van Persie in the summer, then he's really going to struggle (and United will for years to come), but although the job looks too big for him right now, there aren't many people that could have done much with what Ferguson left them. I'm sure it was unintentional, but Ferguson's last act has managed to make him look an even better manger than he was - and he's probably the best ever anyway.