The supporters of Manchester United are not enjoying themselves much at the moment. Defeat to Swansea in the FA Cup has left Old Trafford a sombre place. Nobody can disguise the poor quality of United’s performances or results and a glance at the league table speaks volumes. Whilst the current situation is not David Moyes’s fault, he may not be the solution to it either.
It is important to acknowledge that United do not have enough players of a sufficiently high quality to challenge for all the major trophies simultaneously. Van Persie and Rooney are way out in front and the others trail in their wake. Talented as many other squad members are, none is capable of dominating a top-level contest like those two.
Therefore, the first area that grabs the attention is United’s behaviour in the transfer market. There are at least two points worthy of note in this area, and David Moyes cannot be blamed for either.
Firstly, United’s transfer policy since the Glazer takeover has been cautious to the point of self-defeatism. The excellent Andersred blog recently noted that the club’s transfer outlay was 12% of revenue before the takeover, whereas it has only been 6% since. Quite simply, the team is not enjoying the benefits of the organisation’s business success.
Secondly, United were put in a very difficult situation during the summer transfer window by the chief executive resigning at the same time as the manager. This left David Moyes and new chief Edward Woodward walking around like tourists in a new city. It cannot be a surprise they were unable to find the best bargains on offer straight away.
Unfortunately, United will not be able to fix this problem by whipping out the cheque book this month. Moyes will need time to build the squad he desires and is already behind the eight ball with this process. Besides, very rarely are the best players available in the brief midwinter window.
Another reason for United’s current plight is the number of injuries the first team squad are suffering from. There have been suggestions that Moyes is overtraining the players and that this is contributing to the current health problems. Evidence does not back up that claim.
United have, in fact, experienced an annual injury crisis for every single one of the past few seasons. Last year, they were forced to play Michael Carrick at centre-back occasionally and even called youth teamer Scott Wootton into the first XI for a Champions’ League game. The difference this season is that van Persie and Rooney, the best two players by far, are injured at the same time. Again, this isn’t a training problem, it is an issue of personnel quality.
The quality of the performances is another matter. Whilst Ferguson was a unique motivational genius, Moyes is not. The current manager cannot be blamed for that, however, it suggests he might not have the experience to get United out of this current rut. David Moyes is definitely a good bloke, but he has not proven that he can weather a storm and deliver that goods at the top level. This is his chance and the evidence so far is unfavourable.
In the meantime, United’s supporters will need to grit their teeth and get on with the job of supporting the team. The League Cup, and a probably final against rampant Manchester City, represents the last real opportunity for silverware this season. This is a set of circumstances they may have to get used to. Whether they like it or not.