On 1 July, David Moyes will formally take over the vacant managerial helms at Manchester United.
Even though the Scot will be provided with a hefty transfer kitty and several experienced and proven Premier League performers, there are several burning questions that await his answers.
Red Mancunian lists a few of them.
Who Will Be Leaving?
Although the football world is in the midst of a frantic transfer period, it is still unclear who all will be departing Old Trafford this summer.
Luis Nani’s contract negotiations collapsed last year and with the Red Devils reluctant to delve into the Portugal international’s demands, Moyes quickly needs to make a decision regarding the winger’s future. Does he want to extend Nani’s contract or cash in on him? If the latter, United need to look for potential suitors for Nani, or else, risk losing the Portuguese for nothing next summer.
Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have heavily underperformed over the past 12 months and face bleak futures like Nani.
Moreover, Anderson is also currently in a transfer limbo. The 25-year-old has never really lived up to the hype since joining United in 2007 and although, there have been vague reports that he could be sold in the summer, no concrete news has surfaced as of now. Not to forget, Moyes is apparently ready to dump club vice-captain Patrice Evra, along with Nani and Anderson in the pre-season.
Before he starts purchasing new players for his squad, Moyes will first need to clear out the deadwood at United.
Does Wayne Rooney Have a future at Old Trafford?
Before the end of last season, Wayne Rooney handed his second transfer request in less than three years.
Although United desperately want to keep hold of their prized asset (at-least that’s what the club has suggested), the transfer request indicates Rooney is adamant to leave the English champions.
Hence, it’s up to Moyes to decide now. Does he think Rooney can deliver the goods in his set-up? If yes, can he persuade him to stay at the club and compete for the No 10 role with Shinji Kagawa?
On the other hand, does Moyes feel it could be better to just let go of a player who is not even interested in representing the club anymore?
If Moyes want to sell him, he will have to do so now as in the latter stages of the transfer window, if United look to hastily get rid of the England international, they might not get the financial package that they want.
What About the Tactics?
At Everton, Moyes deployed a direct counter-attacking approach. He played with a target man upfront and put nominal emphasis on ball retention. Long ball were favored, but these tactics might not really work at United.
To be more threatening in Europe, Sir Alex Ferguson started focusing more on possession-play, particularly during his last season at United.
In the Champions League, it’s pivotal that your team is good with keeping hold of the ball.
Hence, although United averaged 66 long balls in 2011/12 season, this number came down to 59 last term (third lowest in the EPL). Fergie clearly didn’t want his men to give away possession cheaply.
By contrast, Moyes’ Everton played 64 long balls per-game in the Premier League during ‘2012/13 season (third highest in the EPL). Moreover, with the Toffees also averaging highest proportion of forward passes (33%), it was quite evident Moyes instructed his men to play via quick-fire attacks, which contained huge risks of getting dispossessed easily.
Now at United, will Moyes continue to play with his counter-attack approach or replicate Fergie’s philosophy?
Wing-play will still be the main attacking threat for the Red Devils, but how will the midfielders and strikers line-up?
With the rumored signings of Thiago Alcantara and Kevin Strootman, could we witness a 4-3-3 formation? No one knows, expect Moyes.
How Will the Mammoth Transfer Budget Be Spent?
Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have all started splurging the cash this summer.
United however, have just made one signing so far, Uruguayan youngster Guillermo Varela. As I mentioned in my previous article, because of the hectic fixture list, Moyes desperately requires to make a few key additions to the squad.
Moyes has been handed with the largest transfer budget in United’s history (£60 million), which excludes any amount from players’ sales. Hence, he could have up to £100 million to buy new players (if Rooney leaves).
Thus, the main question is how does the 50-year-old plan to utilize those funds?
Strootman and Thiago are bookies favorites to join United and the two signings are likely to be completed in the next couple of weeks. This will settle the midfield problem, but where will the remaining money be invested?
Will he Moyes for a statement signing in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo or Cesc Fabregas, or will he reshuffle the defense by bringing Ezequiel Gray and Leighton Baines?
Finally, the Backroom staff?
There was a genuine belief among the fans and pundits that the backroom staff at United would remain the same even after Ferguson’s retirement. However, Moyes has sent an authoritative message to the football community by virtually emptying United’s backroom staff.
Both Mike Phelan and Eric Steele have been already axed from their respective roles. Steele’s departure was particularly shocking as he was the architect behind David De Gea’s stunning past season at United. He had even started taking Spanish lessons to improve his communication with the ‘keeper and De Gea was apparently disappointed with his mentor’s sacking.
Granting Rene Meulensteen is still employed at United, his future lies in the dark.
Thus who will actually consist of Moyes’ backroom staff at the Theatre of Dreams?
Phil Neville has been heavily linked with a return to United in a coaching capacity under Moyes. Moreover, Steve Round has been touted to replace Phelan and Chris Woods might take over Steele’s role.
There have also been rumors of Robbie Cooke, currently the chief scout at Everton, to replace Martin Ferguson, who held the post at United before his brother’s retirement.
Many have criticized Moyes for culling Fergie’s backroom men and in order to gain the trust of the United faithful, he’ll need to make some reliable ‘signings’ in this segment.