Initially, there was almost unanimous support for David Moyes when the wheels started to come off during his time as Manchester United manager. Whilst there had been huge concerns over his appointment, given he hadn’t won a thing during his managerial career, fans were sympathetic and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
In an interview in the Mail on Sunday, Moyes has reflected on his time at the club and is understandably looking for excuses for his failure. The fact the club only signed Marousne Fellaini last summer was criminal and certainly didn’t give him the best chance of making a go of his stint at the club.
Without pointing the finger directly, Moyes hints that Ed Woodward didn’t do his job well enough, which is a conclusion fans had already drawn. Moyes signed a confidentiality agreement as part of his severance deal when he was sacked, which certainly prevents him from saying all he would like to say.
‘We tried to bring players in during the summer transfer window but they didn’t materialise. It certainly wasn’t for the lack of trying. It wasn’t indecision. The complete opposite. It’s been well documented that we wanted Fabregas, Bale and Ronaldo. There was talk of Ronaldo when I first arrived. We were close to getting a couple of major names. I’m not getting in a blame game here but things just didn’t materialise. I had taken over from the most successful manager in history. The chief executive had taken over from one of the most renowned administrators in the game [David Gill]. So it was a new job for two people.’
The fact that history has repeated itself this summer, with Woodward waiting for United to lose their first game of the season, thanks to a shallow squad that has been hit by key injuries, before making any new signings (other than the ones that have been in the pipeline for a year) speaks volumes.
However, having read the interview, this is probably the only point I agree with Moyes on. The rest reads as a dreadful PR job, with Moyes clearly keen to paint himself in the best possible light to aid his future employment prospects. Matt Lawton, the MoS journo asking the questions, fails to deliver any challenging questions and panders to the image Moyes wants to portray.
Poor Moyes was good enough for the job, but the club just didn’t give him enough time to prove it. Apparently.
Had United sacked Moyes after United finished in the top four, with the team playing good football and having some success in the cups, you would have to agree with him.
As it was, from January onwards, United got steadily worse. On the last day of 2013, United were just three points behind Chelsea. Whilst we weren’t looking good for the title, we were round about where you could expect the club to be under Moyes. On the day he was sacked, less than four months later, United were 18 points behind Chelsea and 23 points behind league leaders Liverpool.Jose Mourinho, who hadn’t even been considered by the club for the job, gained 15 points on us in 15 games.
United reached the League Cup semi-final but couldn’t beat Sunderland, who were in a relegation battle at the time, and were knocked out on penalties at Old Trafford. United played just one game in the FA Cup, losing to Swansea in the 3rd round.
However, despite taking United from 1st to 7th in the space of a season, Moyes doesn’t believe he was given the opportunity to show what he was capable of.
‘I was devastated to lose the job because it was something I felt I could make a real success of. We knew it was going to take time to make the necessary changes. It was going to take time to evolve. But we were in the process of making other important changes. In the end, I don’t feel I was given time to succeed or fail.’
This statement wasn’t challenged by the journalist interviewing and was merely accepted as truth. Shouldn’t the following question have been, “do you not think finishing 7th at Manchester United should be considered as a huge failure?” Whether Moyes was given one season or 10, it is insane to believe that the rapid and steep decline of the team’s performances whilst Moyes was in charge is anything but totally unacceptable.
The next question should have related to Roberto Martinez and the job he did at Moyes’ former club, Everton. He was given a season to show what he could do too and despite losing their top scorer of the previous season, Fellaini, they improved. Everton finished 6th in Moyes’ last season but 5th under Martinez, having picked up an extra 9 points. “Why do you think you deserved more time at United when your previous club did better without you and you lead United to a fall of six places?”
Moyes called it the “near impossible job” but that just isn’t true. Nobody was expecting Moyes to emulate Ferguson. He didn’t have to win the league. Finishing in the top four would have been considered acceptable and anything better would have been a success. It wasn’t “near impossible” to take the team that had just won the league to 4th. We needed investment, other teams strengthened, some of our influential players were a year older, but was our squad worse than Everton’s? Spurs’? Even Liverpool’s? With adequate guidance, those players certainly could have qualified for the Champions League. The fact that Ferguson is a genius, winning the title at a canter with an unremarkable squad, doesn’t mean the team Moyes inherited wasn’t capable of finishing higher than 7th.
We all know the reason why Moyes got the job was because Ferguson said he was up to it. I imagine he believed that Moyes would maintain the status quo for a season or two before trying to leave his mark on the club. Instead, Moyes came in and changed everything. The back room staff left, the style of football changed, and United played a different XI for every game Moyes managed.
Whilst some fans remain sympathetic towards Moyes, I have grown to dislike him. If he could just have some humility, it would be different. He didn’t ask for the job, Fergie told him he had it, so just for him just to admit he wasn’t ready to be the manager of one of the biggest club’s in the world would be reasonable.
Instead, he came to United as a manager who had won nothing, and instead of maintaining what Ferguson had put in place, he thought he knew better. The ego on him to do such a thing makes me think he isn’t the man we maybe thought he was.
In this interview he admits this was the wrong approach, to some degree, in amidst several statements claiming the club still should have stuck by him.
‘I went into the job thinking I want to do exactly what I did at Everton. I want to be the same person. I want to manage in the same style. Because why would I change when I had success working that way? But now, looking back, I think there might have to have been a slightly different approach. I might have altered the style in which I managed.’
Maybe Moyes genuinely believes he deserves more time. Maybe he genuinely believes that if he had been given another season he would have done a good job. Or maybe he’s just desperate for work and wants to portray his time at United as something that wasn’t his fault. But the fact is his time at United was a massive failure, not entirely all of his doing, but totally inexcusable nevertheless. And for an exclusive with the former manager the day after Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge, the MoS were happy to indulge him in his nonsense.