After nearly 27 years of Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the old man decided to call it a day. Replacing him was a man of his own choice. David Moyes, a person who enjoyed a considerably good time at Everton and gave them stability throughout his stint at the club, stepped in. Stepping into Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes was never going to be an easy job but it seemed that the elite are already taken. Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea, Arsene Wenger still pledging for Arsenal while Pep Guardiola made a move to Bayern Munich.
There is no doubt that Moyes or any other manager who might takeover at Manchester United will face difficulty at the start, most probably, he will not be winning the league. However, Moyes’ start to the season has put the Red Devils below Southampton and his former team Everton, equal on points with Hull City and Newcastle United after eight games played. Is it a crisis? No not at all or at least not yet.
Until now he has not settled to a starting XI yet, while five players have cemented their places: David De Gea, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. The remaining six positions have been rotated among the other players in the squad and he is yet to settle on his choices.
The defense is known as the most important component to form a solid team yet we have seen Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones feature in the heart of the defense through different combinations without settling on any specific two. The instability in this position is very critical and hinders the development of chemistry between the two players occupying the positions. It is widely known among football managers and coaches that attack can depend on individual talent but defense is always a team effort and yet the combination continues to change.
At right back, we’ve seen Fabio, Rafael, Jones and Chris Smalling while on the wing in front of them Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs shared playing time which also hinders the ability of the players to understand each other’s movement under the new manager and the new system. A lack of continuity keeps the wingers and full backs puzzled regarding their positioning and complementary movement.
Michael Carrick has been superb in midfield but his partners Tom Cleverly, Marouane Fellaini and Anderson lacked enough playing time to settle in. The same problem over and over again and we witness the same issue on the left wing where Ashley Young, Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa, Giggs and even Danny Welbeck occupied it.
However, things are not a disaster, Fellaini might have not impressed yet but he may need time to settle in. Moreover, Moyes deserves to be given a chance, he’s working with those players for the first time and a few of them were not his own choices, Fellaini was the only players signed from the list he asked for. English international Leighton Baines was the main transfer target and there are reasons to believe that if the player signed for United things would have been completely different at the club. Cesc Fabregas and Kevin Strootman were main targets to fill the whole left in midfield after Paul Scholes’ retirement yet vice-chairman Ed Woodward did not secure enough funds to sponsor any of the moves.
Back to Baines, Everton heavily focused on playmaking through the left back position under Moyes and Baines was the man in that spot, he rose among many quality full backs to become among the best in the world. This season United have recorded a higher percentage of crossing than any of the past three seasons and mainly the left back, Evra, has been playing an average of 1.8 key passes per game that is twice his average in the past three seasons! Though United have the second worst crossing accuracy in the Premier League this season (17.1%), only Fulham have done worse (15.7%). This reflects that Evra is not the right man to occupy this position even if he is a great left back, he just does not fit in this system or maybe needs time. Patrice Evra has been trying to meet Moyes’ demands but he has been caught out of position many times and United were being punished because they were exposed from both flanks.
Carrick showed signs of character and belief after the 1-1 draw against Southampton as he stated: “It is frustrating because things are not going the way we want. But as players we have to stand up, take responsibility and get better.” He backed his new boss and admitted that the players have played a part in the current drop.
People and the media need topics to discuss and to write about. They tend to overlook what positive things the manager brought to the club just to fill pages of newspapers yet Moyes has done well by tying Wayne Rooney down at the club after a suspected transfer to Chelsea while he also brought in wonder-kid Adnan Januzaj. In the Champions League the club is running high in a very tough group that includes Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad. In the capital One Cup, United thumped Norwich CIty last night 4-0 with many of the starting XI players being benched, the rest of the squad stepped it up and showed that this United side has enough players and a good depth. They are still fighting on all fronts and there is no reason to panic. All they need in January is a signing or two.
Everyone wants to compare him with Alex Ferguson but this simply cannot happen and is unreal. ‘Sir Alex used to make a late comeback in those games’, such a statement has been said repeatedly in the few first games. However, Alex Ferguson did not make a comeback in every game, he lost and he drew some, while Moyes is yet to play a handful number of games to be judged on whether he can overturn the score but yet he did just that in Manchester’s game last weekend against Stoke City. Manchester were trailing 2-1 but scored twice late on to grab a 3-2 victory and only time will show that Moyes is the right man for the club.
If there is a right man for United, it is no one other than David Moyes but it will take time and effort from players, directors, fans and the manager himself. Everyone needs to put their fair share in it. Moyes being jeered by his own crowd will not help the Red Devils bounce back but will put them closer to an evitable crisis. It all requires patience and trust, the man knows where he is and he fully understands the responsibility but everyone needs to acknowledge that Sir Alex Ferguson’s era is gone and it is time to move on.