“This is a trophy for Sir Alex, so if he is sitting at home and watching today, this is for you Sir Alex and for the way your team performed last season and won the Premier League. The only way you get to the Charity Shield is by winning the league or the FA Cup, so Sir Alex’s team did that last year and the ones from now on will be hopefully for me to win.”
– David Moyes August 2013
Yes indeed. The Community Shield, the season opener between the previous league champions and the FA cup winners. A perfect start for David Moyes to get a taster or what it is like to win a trophy. They have been more entertaining ties down the years, most noticeably an Eric Cantona hattrick pre-King status, Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous line on Bobby Chalrton’s excellent second goal against Spurs in 1967 (or even Pat Jennings goal in the same game!) and the bare chested Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner going at it hammer and tong having been sent off for getting a big chunky Johnny Giles elbow. Yes, those were Community, or Charity, shield memories from yesteryear – which you could argue were far more memorable than the 2-0 victory over Wigan some eight months ago.
In the time that has elapsed, we’ve seen a ‘Moyes Out’ plane banner fly over Old Trafford during the 4-1 win over Aston Villa, United humbled at home by Manchester City and Liverpool and a number of uninspiring flat press conferences, where the manager focuses on ‘trying’ to win. The debate on Moyes always brings me back to this question – can you ever see, regardless of time, a Manchester United side managed by David Moyes winning a major trophy?
Following a game, in the pub or even after a comical outing of my own Sunday side – the same statements are always raised, by reds and non reds. “He hasn’t a clue”, “He needs to go” or, which is usually in the minority “You need to give him time”. I’ll try and give you a sense of where I am with everything. Firstly, as many Reds usually are – I was insanely pro-Ferguson and wouldn’t listen to any shortcomings about the former boss, choosing to ignore the notion that “this is his fault” and “he got out whilst he could with this squad”.
His defence of the Glazer’s angered many fans and there are those who still believe he should have stepped down on May 12th 2005, when the takeover was confirmed – Ferguson a football man and socialist at heart, would surely not have envisioned the path the modern day beautiful game would take when at such humble St. Mirren beginnings. But one of Ferguson’s greatest attributes was his ability to adapt and to evolve with the ever changing nature of football, whether it be the extortionate player wages, lifestyle or indeed, the ugly transition from game to business – whether he agreed to it or not.
The decision to hire David Moyes as his successor was a disappointing but unsurprising one for me. A manager who hadn’t won a major trophy in England before, but who had made a number of shrewd signings in order to keep Everton competitive in the Premier League – surely the latter part would appeal to the Glazer’s side of thinking. United got their man and, as any fan should do, should support the decision and back the manager who had, and still has, a monumental task in front of him.
Fast forward a season and United are lingering in seventh spot, out of domestic cups and out of Europe, whilst playing a dull uninspiring brand of football. The last part is of course up for debate, as we all have an opinion on what makes a good team, but the same question should be asked – Can Manchester United win a major trophy under David Moyes?
Glory boys vs. Moyes Out
On either side of the spectrum you have the “Moyes Out” brigade and the “Glory boys” bashers. Generally, if you take the position to support the manager, you are dismissed as knowing nothing about football and are ‘pleased’ to see United’s demise unfold right under your nose. But of course, if you think it is time Moyes should be on his way, you are considered a Glory fan, only in it for the trophies and the winning, rather than supporting your team through thick and thin.
For every fan that angrily cites Jurgen Klopp as an easy replacement from a behind a keyboard, you’ll get another fan that brings up the time United went out to Widzew Lodz in the UEFA Cup back in 1980/81 (extra points if you leave the scorer in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the comments box) and you should “count yourself lucky” in the position you find yourself today.
Ok, both are extremes – and a little unfair – and you will get crossovers between either side of thinking – but the main point is that some “fans” have been spoilt with success, bang on social media, to anyone that will listen, about how angry they are with what is happening at the club and demand instantaneous success. That what bugs most people – “instant success” – like a club has a given right to lift silverware. Some fans expected (even under Ferguson) to lift multiple European Cups, a feat that has not been done in over twenty four years, which is a cultural shift from expectations pre-00s.
For me, it isn’t about instantaneous success, but there needs to be a plan – something that appears to be missing from Moyes’ work – in place to compete at the top level – a level that Ferguson dragged United to. This is the point – you should of course question the manager if standards have slipped – but for the monumental task that faces Moyes, surely he deserves more than a single season to prove his worth? So, even with an additional two seasons at the helm I’ll ask the question again – Can Manchester United win a major trophy under David Moyes?
Guardiola, Klopp, Mourinho & Moyes
We will never ever know what goes on behind closed doors – I want to make that clear. These are all assumptions. Ferguson has suggested that only a select few knew his decision regarding retirement, but I was always bemused regarding the premature appointment of Pep Guardiola in a season, when Bayern were on course for an historic treble. Jupp Heynckes guided the Bavarian club to a treble of riches, despite knowing that the Wembley final would be his last. Was there any reason why the German club moved so quickly, January to be precise, for the Ex-Barcelona man? Sure, he is a World Class manager who was available for the 2013/14 season – but did they speed up the appointment for any reason?
The 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid last term gave us some insight into the mindset of both managers. Sir Alex slammed the chair in front of him as the red card was lofted high into the Mancunian night sky following Nani’s challenge on Arbeloa. United’s slender 1-0 lead was overturned, much like in the defeat to Bayern Munich three years earlier, as Modric and Ronaldo helped the visitors to victory.
Ferguson’s attempt to lift the crowd was surely based upon the realisation that this was going to be his final European Cup match in charge of United – the trophy that eluded him for so long but was won in dramatic fashion, of course, on the 26th May 1999. Watching the reaction back again, it did speak volumes regarding what would eventually happen two months later and of course, his reluctance to speak to the press – something that although wasn’t out character – due to being ‘distraught’ should have really raised eyebrows.
Jurgen Klopp is often heralded as the potential saviour for any football side. The photo bombing, eccentric but successful manager has rejuvenated the 1997 European Cup winners having taken over a debt-ridden club and transforming them into German Champions and European Cup finalists. Its an impressive feat, combined with discovering the likes of Robert Lewandowski (for €4.5m), Shinji Kagawa (for €350,000) and nurturing the mercurial Mario Götze from the youth teams to the first team. The charismatic boss has an eye for talent but unlike Moyes – plays open attacking football and has won trophies. As I mentioned, no one knows what goes on in the board room – but was Klopp even considered? If so did he want to go?
Jose Mourinho’s reaction, although extremely comical now that he didn’t get the job, also spoke volumes. At war with the Madrid hierarchy, the fans and some players – Mourinho’s turbulent time in the Spanish capital was coming to an end, but his post-match interview appeared to be an sympathetic audition for a potential job going in the home dugout. His comments received criticism from Roy Keane who was on a war path for most of the night, but it was an odd reaction from the Portuguese manager, who nine years previous was dancing down the touchline in a game they shouldn’t have won. Chelsea fans had a nervous 24 hours in the wake of Ferguson’s retirement, when there were suggestion that he would be the replacement. For anyone who has been following the comments of Bobby Charlton over the years – you knew that Jose Mourinho wouldn’t get the job – but as Barcelona did in 2007/08 – surely he should at least been interviewed for the job?
Can David Moyes win a trophy at Manchester United?
Everything boils down to the same question. For all the defence, for all the criticism – all fans surely unite with the same ethos. Manchester United should play open attacking football, with width, whilst nurturing youngster into the first team. This blue print served Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson well in over half a century at the helm between them and is the benchmark for all future teams. From Eddie Coleman to George Best to Mark Hughes to Nicky Butt to Cristian Ronaldo – United sides have put faith in youth and have reaped the benefits.
Adnan Januzaj has been a revelation this season, despite going off the boil in the past few months. He is a joy to watch, an exciting talent that goes past defenders at will. As he develops and grows he will go to ground less and I’m sure he will end up through the middle at some point in his career. Juan Mata is an excellent creative footballer than slots into United’s attacking line with ease. His slow start was surely due to being played out of position on the right hand side rather than through the middle to help accommodate Wayne Rooney and the out of sorts Robin van Persie. Marouane Fellaini, like his boss, has much to prove – although the monumentally overinflated transfer fee is down to the bumbling negotiations of Edward Woodward.
David Moyes will last this season and will surely be given funds to strengthen the team next season – especially with the loss of club captain Nemanja Vidic. Many players futures are still in question – will Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs retire in the summer? Will Robin van Persie request to leave? Will Patrice Evra be off? All of these questions will be answered post 2013/14 – an extremely disappointing season for all concerned.
But come May 2015, when the transfers have been made, the tactics have been set and his philosophy stamped on the side, I ask again – Can David Moyes win a trophy at Manchester United?. Your answers below please.
*The Community Shield is not considered a major trophy.