Burning Issue: Is it time for David Moyes to go?
Manchester United’s already awful season plumbed new depths in their defeat to Olympiacos last night, so is it time to cut the cord with David Moyes? Two JOEs argue it out.
Sean Nolan says... ‘Give him time’ is the refrain, but pulling the plug on David Moyes now might be the best thing for all concerned at Old Trafford.
From the day he was appointed, a small proportion of football observers felt David Moyes wasn’t up to the job of managing Manchester United. But with the blessing of Alex Ferguson, and the genuine goodwill of the overwhelming majority of fans, it was hoped that Moyes would be able to maintain the standards set by his predecessor.
Growing pains were expected, and with an ageing squad and a poor summer shopping spree, it was expected that things would be a little bumpier at Old Trafford this year than they had been for a good long while.
But the sheer volume of bad results, and performances, under David Moyes thus far has been beyond what even the most vituperative Liverpool fan could have hoped for. Home defeat to West Brom, an away shellacking at Manchester City and back-to-back home defeats to Everton and Newcastle before Christmas were bad but 2014 has been a proper horror show, with the team seemingly getting worse.
It kicked off with three consecutive 2-1 defeats, and it also included such shambolic performances as the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg defeat to Sunderland (yep, that penalty shoot out), defeat to Stoke and Chelsea, the omnishambles that was the draw with Fulham and then last night’s abject display in Greece.
By any measure, the form over the last two months has been poor. By the standards expected at Manchester United they are appalling. You can make excuses for Moyes, especially regarding injuries to key players at certain times and constant defensive reshuffles. However, since he has had a full deck to play with of late, the team has gotten even worse. Last night’s feeble efforts smacked of a team not even trying to help their manager out of a bind, an extraordinary sight when we are so used to United sides for the last 20 years fighting to rescue hopeless causes, and often succeeding.
The players have to take their portion of the blame for the results, but ultimately it is the manager who has to get them in the right frame of mind, and set up to win games. In all the time he was at United, Ferguson got most of the credit for the team’s success, despite the hugely talented professional he had at his disposal. Now, conversely, Moyes must get the blame, even if the likes of Cleverley and Smalling are not even close to the calibre of a Keane or Irwin.
With a top four spot and Champions League success beyond United now it makes little difference who manages United for the remainder of the season to be honest and sacking Moyes before season’s end would be cruel on a man who appears to be a thoroughly decent guy.
But giving the Scot more time is not the answer. Yes it worked for Alex Ferguson at the beginning of his tenure but the football world of the late 1980s is aeons removed from the world Manchester United currently operate in. Foreign owners, massive TV and sponsorship deals, merchandise sales and the power of European football have all conflated to mean success is a must for a club like Manchester United. One year out of the mix could be tolerated but with the teams around them getting stronger, can Moyes be trusted to pull it around next term? It is a gamble that is simply too big.
It is better for all concerned if the plaster is ripped off now and plans put in place to rebuild under a new man. Who that might be is anyone’s guess, but what is there now clearly isn’t working and shows all the signs of only getting worse.
Time kills too you know.
Conor Heneghan says... Before writing a piece in support of David Moyes this morning, I had to have a fairly long think about whether I genuinely want him in charge of Manchester United next season, or whether it’s simply an argument borne out of a little bit of sympathy and having patience for patience’s sake. And if I’m being absolutely honest about it, I’m still not 100 per cent sure.
Hard as it might have been to sink lower than they have already this season, Manchester United managed it last night and though there might be some comfort to take in the fact that they have now reached rock-bottom, I and plenty more United fans have thought that already this season and David Moyes and his squad have managed to prove us wrong again and again in the worst way possible.
I keep thinking of the Simpsons scene where Homer, Chief Wiggum, Mayor Quimby and Moe are trying to get themselves out of a hole and imagining Moyes repeating Wiggum’s advice when telling his players to ‘Dig up, stupid!’.
Not for the first time this season, Moyes looked completely baffled by the failings of his players last night and Robin van Persie’s comments afterwards would suggest that not everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet. While that was patently obvious to anyone watching, it is another thing for a player to (albeit subtly) admit it in public and points to something that is becoming increasingly clear; that the manager does not have the trust of a significant number of his players.
It is inevitable that some of those players will be gone out the door in the summer and that quite a few will come in to replace them. Many United fans are uneasy at the thought of the man who has overseen their worst campaign in over two decades being responsible for what will likely to the largest overhaul of the squad over a similar period of time.
I’d be lying if I didn’t have some concerns either, my biggest one being that there has been absolutely no evidence of a Moyes philosophy or an identifiable style of play and the argument that he hasn’t had time to do so isn’t that strong when you look at the jobs the likes of Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino have done in their short time at their respective clubs.
I do think, however, that Moyes deserves the chance to put his mark on the squad and that he be given a summer transfer window in which to do it. As Roy Keane mentioned on ITV last night, Moyes might have been taken aback at the standard of some of the United squad when he saw them at close quarters, but he’s had plenty of time to assess what areas are in need of addressing, single out the players who don’t belong – and there are quite a few – and identify the players who could come in and make a difference.
And it looks like he’s going to have money to spend too, so if there’s a repeat of the dire performances next season, or if there’s no distinct signs of progress, then he can have no excuses if and when he’s eventually given the boot.
Although it was a diabolical performance, last night’s result might not matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, at least as far as this season is concerned. Let’s face it, United were never going to win the Champions League anyway and at this stage, David Moyes is probably like most fans in that he just wishes it would come to an end sooner rather than later.
When it does, he can begin implementing the rehabilitation plans I very much hope he has begun to put into place already and it is after that when I, for one at least, will begin making a clearer judgement of whether or not he’s cut out for the job.