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Would sacking Moyes make us another Chelsea?

Manchester United fans rightly don’t want the reputation of being an unsupportive club that sacks the manager at the drop of a hat. One of the arguments that is regularly put forward for keeping hold of David Moyes is that “we don’t want to become like Chelsea”. Whilst I’d argue that Chelsea’s policy of sacking the manager hasn’t prevented them from being successful, with them winning plenty of trophies with the eight different managers they’ve had in the past six years, it certainly has limited their success.

When Roman Abramovich took over in 2004 it appeared as though Chelsea were going to dominate English football indefinitely. They have spent over £800m in transfers alone during this time, with a net spend of around £600m, whilst United’s spend is over £400m, with a net spend of £200m. United are a club that are hundreds of million in debt, yet have won more Premier League titles since Abramovich moved to Chelsea.

Chelsea have obviously been considerably more successful than they would have been without Abramovich but there’s no reasonable excuse for them not taking the league by storm and dominating the way United had done in the 90s and Liverpool had in the 80s. When you consider how much United have been hampered by the Glazers, a club that generates more cash every year than every club bar Real Madrid and Barcelona but spends nowhere near as much as the other top clubs in Europe, it’s unforgivable that Chelsea haven’t taken advantage of United’s massive debt.

There has also been no investment in the future, with no manager given time to evaluate the youth system and bring players through, meaning that John Terry, who made his debut in 1998, is the last player of note to make his way up through the ranks.

Jose Mourinho won back to back titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups in just three full seasons at the club, which was an incredible return. Ahead of Mourinho’s third season, he added one of the best players in the world for each area of the field to a side that had already comfortably won the title, signing Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack and Andrei Shevchenko. In contrast, United’s only signing that summer was Michael Carrick, yet the reds still won the title relatively easily, wrapping up the league a few weeks before the season ended.

Just a few weeks in to Mourinho’s fourth season he was sacked by Abramovich after a 1-1 draw with Rosenborg in the Champions League. The stadium was half empty for Mourinho’s last game in charge, with just 24k fans showing up.

In his match report, Martin Lipton, The Mirror, wrote: Boos echoed round the vast empty spaces of a half-full Stamford Bridge, leaving Mourinho to point the finger at the players who conspired to squander enough chances to win the group, let alone one game.

Chelsea were 5th in the table at the time but were only 2 points behind league leaders Arsenal and on the same points as the eventual title winners that season, United. They weren’t running away with the league as they had done in the past but there certainly wasn’t any sort of crisis at hand.

You would think that if you were going to bin Mourinho, the most successful manager in the club’s history, Abramovich would have a decent replacement in mind. Instead he appointed Avram Grant, a friend of his, who didn’t even have a Uefa Pro Licence, the required qualification for anyone wishing to manage in the top flight on a permanent basis. How many trophies did the decision to sack Mourinho cost Chelsea?

Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking was the next unbelievable decision from the owner, just a year after he became the first manager to win the league and FA Cup double at the West London club. He was dismissed after finishing 2nd in the league the following season.

A club statement read: “This season’s performances have fallen short of expectations and the club feels the time is right to make this change ahead of next season’s preparations.”

Finally, the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo was again incredibly unfair and premature, with him being dismissed after becoming the first manager to bring the European Cup to a London club. They were 3rd in the table at the time, 4 points behind United, but struggling in the Champions League.

The club statement read: “The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season. The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.”

Chelsea went on to finish 3rd, 14 points behind United, under the leadership of Rafa Benitez, the manager the fans hated. When at Liverpool, Benitez slagged off Chelsea fans. Whilst blues were criticised from showing him no support from the beginning, it is important to remember that no matter how heated a rivalry, the hatred is rarely or ever so heated that a manager will criticise rival fans. For instance, Sir Alex Ferguson never said anything about Liverpool or City fans, and Arsene Wenger didn’t have a pop at United or Spurs fans, despite unsavoury chants. On how many occasions has a manager come out and singled out another team’s fans in the way Benitez did Chelsea’s?

“We don’t need to give away stupid plastic flags to our fans to wave, our supporters are always there with their hearts and that is all we need,” Benitez said in 2007. “Its the passion of the fans that helps us to win matches, not flags. Chelsea fans lack passion.”

Five years after these remarks, Abramovich chose him to manage Chelsea. In the 16th minute of every game Chelsea fans applauded and sang Di Matteo’s name. Although, the fact their fans stopped doing this the moment Benitez left the club, suggests this was more a protest against the Spaniard than it was a protest against Di Matteo’s sacking.

So no, we don’t want to become a club that sacks a manager the year after he’s won consecutive titles or the Double. We also don’t want to become a club that sacks a manager six months after they’ve won the European Cup. But that doesn’t mean that every time a manager is sacked that the club is in the wrong and that the manager deserved more time.

Take the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari in February 2009. The season before they finished 2nd, two points behind United, and played in the European Cup final against United. By the time Scolari was sacked, with less than four months of the season remaining, they were 4th in the table. Guus Hiddink replaced him for the last few months and they finished the season 3rd, as well as winning the FA Cup. Nobody could seriously argue that Chelsea should have persevered with Scolari.

The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas is also another great example of when Abramovich got it right, after he joined the club in the summer of 2011. Chelsea finished the 2010-2011 season 2nd in the league behind United. AVB was sacked in March, with Chelsea 5th in the table, 20 points behind United. His second stint at a Premier League club, Spurs, suggests that the fella just isn’t cut out of management in England, despite his success in Portugal.

To suggest that all managers deserve more time is ridiculous. Whilst some decisions may be too hasty and may backfire, dependent on the quality of the manager brought in to replace them, they are often necessary decisions to prevent a club going backwards.

United could get their next appointment wrong, just as Chelsea did when replacing Grant with Scolari, but that doesn’t change the fact the decision to get rid of a failing manager is the right one.

United are 23 points worse off than they were at this point last season, having won nine fewer games and losing five more. On December 31st 2013 United were just 3 points behind Chelsea and now, eight weeks later, we’re 18 points behind them. We are getting worse, not better, as time goes by, even with the addition of Juan Mata, a truly world class player.

At any other top club in Europe, Moyes would have been sacked by now, and whilst I don’t think getting rid of him before the season has finished is the right way to go, we certainly should be lining up a replacement for the summer. Whilst I wouldn’t want to see us sacking the manager every year, justified or otherwise as we have seen Chelsea do, I can’t see anything admirable in giving time to someone who clearly isn’t up to the job.

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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162 Comments

  1. WeAreUnitedd says:

    @iammatty

    even though I know you copy paste those comments like sri matt did, is it a coincidence yo uhave similar usernames? also I could not stand the negaticity of that guy so if you are him, yours negativity

    BUT

    that copypaste is rightly so.

    Sturridge/RVP
    Sterling/JanuzajOrKagawa Suarez/Rooney Coutinho/Mata
    Henderson/CleverleyOrFellaini Gerrard/Carrick
    Johnson/Evra Vidic/Skrtel Agger/Smalling Flannagan/Rafael

    NOW compare those two line-ups and see how we should be betetr than them.
    RVP best player of the league for 2 seasons, Suarez is better than ROoney, Mata is betetr than Coutinho, Januzaj is better than Sterling also Sterling is in his second season also Kagawa is an experienced player
    Henderson Cleverley well it’s close and Fellaini is better than both of them, Gerrard and Carrick well Gerrard is better than Carrick, my humble opinion.

    I also was thinking of Rodgers yesterday (no homo) and though that he reminds of SAF, the quick football Liverpool play and press is quite te same as SAF’s era.

    So could it be that Liverpool got their SAF? it’s really possible, so when you look at it, Moyes is not doing a really good job.

    We although have to remember that Januzaj is at his first season and Mata in his first games, so we can’r put Mata for comparison for this season, but as a whole Moyes has a really good team in his hands and it showed against Crystal Palace, but then switched off.

    SO what can we say about this?

  2. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Fred sounds more pessimistic than even me! He’s right about one thing though and that’s that the ticket sales aren’t all what they seem. We might have sell ours but it’s hardly hard to get a season ticket for a United now. When I got mine back in summer of 06 you had to prove your worth by the amount of games you applied and went to as a member over the years, now there’s no such process needed. Genuine supporters have just been priced out over the years and instead we have a stadium half full of day trippers. Fergie occasionally moaned about the atmosphere but what did he bloody expect? The club became a victim of their own success. The club goes out their way to please sponsors and we have tickets for our games floating around offices and being passed on as a thing to do for the weekend for casual fans and so on. High end football in this country the atmosphere is literally dead. Most European leagues put the English clubs to shame in what they charge in comparison to watch a football match.

  3. Fletch™ says:

    Gary, Unfortunately, every owner since Edwards has been into United as an investment. So that predates Glazers by 10+years. The economics of success built this club and have always been important. The concern is that the Glazers have found much more lucrative income outside of matchday, and are happy to make appearances of high ticket prices so that it helps FFP. But they don’t seem to have their hearts in full houses do they.
    I am pretty sure they could be bought out. But it will take a much deeper pocket than Fred has. And I was never into the idea of a consortium run club like the Red Knights.
    The problem is City are making a go of it with development of infrastructure. If United don’t pull their fists out of there hind quarters top 4 is going to be a big struggle for years.

  4. DeGeaWeTrust says:

    The reality is? Moyes is bad for business on so many levels, the gamble has not paid off. The more they stick with him, the more ticket prices are in danger of under selling if they charge prices for very poor product on display, you drop out of the top 4, prices have to come down, which could probably set this club back at least 4 years, if we continue down this path, a mix of players past their prime. But the fact this manager cannot get the best out of guys like mata rooney van persie, benches janazaj one of united’s few players actually in form, he continues to play Valencia and young, who should have left the club in the summer, you got to question this mans logic. This club needs a coach, not a manager stuck in the ridged football era. This club have got to get out of this mentality of giving managers time when they are doing beyond a bad job, clubs are getting stronger, shittys structure is kicking our asses, they have a good team, their coaching staff know how to get the best out of the players, and we have got a management team that are clueless on so many levels its pretty scary.

    Yea give managers time, when they have an actual plan in place on how to steer this ship, not throwing money away if the tactics don’t match what is being spent. You can spend has much money has you like, if the manager and his staff are not up to speed, its useless. If you have a 747 jumbo jet, the plane is useless if the pilots cannot drive the damn thing. You need top men in place that know exactly how to take this team, not some board room fave like fergie who cannot see that what is best for the club, not what is best for David Moyes

  5. DeGeaWeTrust says:

    That is the question I will always ask from now on, what is best for MUFC? or what is best for David Moyes? I choose the former, not the latter

  6. DeGeaWeTrust says:

    WeAreUnitedd – Like I say, its not who has the best plane, it is who is driving it. If I had a jumbo jet, and you had a G5, and you had the pilots to drive it, and I tried to drive that Jumbo Jet myself, who is going to have a safer journey? you? or me? that is what our situation is, we have idiots driving our planes, and they keep crashing our planes. While Rodgers company has got a healthy thriving company, because that company has top people who know how to drive a plane, and we don’t.

  7. WeAreUnitedd says:

    @DGWT

    I don’t know mate, I am torned, because at one hand I have my support for Moyes and will still have, but in the other hand, when I look at what Rodgers is doing, I am worried.

    I think Moye’s problem started from the beginning, when he did not add 3 extra million to get HErrera a midfielder who would have helped us, and he got Fellaini whom is not bad, but he’s been injured etc so we can’t judge him for 100%, but we can only look at the situation and say there it started.

    The second problem occured when he started licking Rooney’s ass, no I would have sold him to Chelski, but he’s not played that card right.

    Other problems are, that he should have known the team better, before he came here, hell you don’t need to be a genius to know on who to get rid of and who to keep, what Moyes did was, he came and gave a chance to everyone, so he did not know his players. and we’re talking Manchester United.

    Then his tactics have been set wrong, I myself saw a lot of positives, the way we kept the ball etc, but it seemed that everytime we did something right, he was unhappy and changed it so it does not go well anymore. Then he started trying this outdated formation.

    One of the biggest problems for me is Rooney, although now he’s signed and now it’s not the time to address Rooney but concentrate on the whole, but he’s the main problem, and for me if he’s not a top striker then he’s a problem, he’s not the solution for evolving football, no matter how players can interchange. SO we’ll see next season, will Rooney finally play as a lonestriker which would mean selling RVP, cause he ain’t staying for the bench.
    Of course the more great pklayers the better, but at the age of RVP he won’t play second string, but then again, Moyes will probably play the two together, which is not bad, but it will not evolve our style.

    Then there’s Kagawa, who for me, has had his chances and has not taken them fully, but when you think about it, he’s a playmaker, and yes with his ability he should do well o nthe left, but when played out of position, any player would suffer. Hopefully we keep him.

    For the defense, certain players ageing (defense), some players are past it, and some players already planning for transfers and are uncertain, which leaves them very vulnerable and only the strong ones will survive.

    There are positives, Januzaj Rooney and Mata, 3 players who can change any game. ALso the Crystal Palace game showed us that with the right system we can play possession football and keep the ball and dominate the opposite team + we have player who can penetrate defenses, SO if Moyes can do this, then I think he’s the right player

    And I think that’s the only game where I thought to myself (what a wonderful world) that Moyes can really make us great again, and play us possession football, + add Kroos into it (BTW bayern consider to buy Gundogan to replace Kroos, who hopefully comes here, source is Goal.com so no guarantee) and add another midfielder, some defenders, youth etc and voila.

    we’ll see what happens, I see a glimpse of hope, but everytime I see it, we shut it down, so we just have to wait and see. Whichever the solution is, I hope it will make us great again.

  8. WeAreUnitedd says:

    TYPO

    I would have NOT sold him to Chelski,

  9. The_red_devils says:

    We are united
    we can evolve our style even with rvp and rooney in my opinion, a 4-2-1-3 with rooney as left forward, rvp in center, januzaj right and mata in behind, i think it can work.
    I think gundogan to bayern are total false rumour and i personally prefer gundogan(if fit) over kroos.

  10. NairobiRed says:

    To be fair to Moyes, his takeover couldn’t have come at a worse time. This is not taking away the fact that he is out of his depth as a top level manager, but if it were not for the like of city and chelsea, he may have been able to use united’s clout to buy success. He clearly cannot develop his own team and challenge the top teams like Klopp and Rogers have done. He looks like a manager who can only work with the very best in order to challenge or win. Anything other than the very best and he struggles. If the club gives him the reported 200M, I hope he goes for the very best and doesn’t blow it on the likes of Fellaini. But, being out of the. top 4 and not looking like a convincing manager might mean having to overpay to attract players, so while 200M may buy us 6-8 quality players, he might only afford 2-3. Anyway, next season he’ll have no excuses. I just wonder what a manager like Klopp would achieve with such a warchest.

  11. Ian Nichol says:

    Dont think we need another reason to justify sacking Moyes but if we want to add to the charge sheet then read what Roy Carroll says about the disastrous game against Olympiacos.
    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/roy-carroll-blasts-manchester-united-6773264

  12. wayne barker says:

    mate that’s on the players not Moyes,professionals who have no self pride and no respect for the badge or fans need to fuck off,doesn’t matter who the manager is.After years of success and Utd turning most of them into rich men as soon as a bit of adversity comes along throw in the towel shows total lack of charterer.They should be all battling harder not less

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