Manchester United – Outfought, Outplayed, Out of Time?

I have been his most assertive of allies, his most persuasive of proponents and one of his most defiant defenders. I have bared the brunt of abuse and I have discussed, deliberated and argumented my case from dusk till dawn. However, it is growing increasingly likely that such profound support from my part will ultimately be in vain. For Tuesday night, there seemed to be a definitive turning of the tide, a somewhat monumental realisation that destiny may have dealt Moyes and United a dud.

While notwithstanding the fact that we have been undeniably poor for the best part of the season, I have always backed my argument on the basis of the sheer unprecedented nature of the situation and the enormity of the task at replacing the most successful manger in the modern game.

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My logic was not born from an underlying love for Moyes, but more so my sincere devoted trust in the man who personally chose him as the heir to his throne. And despite what anyone says, he did work wonders at Everton, albeit under extremely different circumstances. I have denounced detractors as apostates and I have fought his corner for long enough, but last night in a wave of anger and disappointment it became apparent that Moyes might have lost the most important component of his ability to be successful  – the dressing room.

This is not some kind of off the cuff knee jerk reaction to a bitterly disappointing defeat and equally shambolic performance. No, instead this tirade emanates from a far more worrying aspect of the dark day that was witnessed on Tuesday. My biggest beef with yesterday’s inept display actually bore to fruition before a ball was kicked. Moyes’ post match interview ten minutes prior to kick-off was as uninspiring as it was disturbing, and it undoubtedly set the tone for the preceding performance. As soon as I heard it I was worried!

On the back of a decent win at Palace the general consensus was that it was now time to kick on and continue our decent run of form in the Champions League. There was anticipation and expectation in equal measure, as it was wholeheartedly believed that we could/would get a good result against, let’s be honest, a team that can be regarded as the weakest left in the competition.

However, the inherently pessimistic nature of Moyes’ pre game interview done little to dispel the doubters and consequently, the lethargic performance mirrored that of the interview. “Compact”, “we hope” and “try” was just some of the terminology used by Moyes in the short 90-second interview. This is European minnows Olympiakos, not Barca or Bayern! Such conjecture is indicative of the Moyes reign thus far, except “compact” of course, we have been anything but from a defensive point of view. The interview provided further evidence of Moyes’ overly cautious and conservative approach. It must be said that Moyes’ circumspect approach thus far, may not necessarily be demonstrative of his footballing philosophy, but more so a sign of the sheer enormity of the unrelenting pressure he is under. Ironically, it could very well be that his obvious fear of failure may inevitably lead to his demise.

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The performance lacked everything that United have stood for during the Ferguson era. Despite the fact that the free flowing, counter-attacking football we became so accustomed to had diminished in the latter years of Sir Alex’s reign, we always had an inner belief, fight and a spirit that could never be criticised nor questioned. The “Believe” mantra, while just a branding slogan, did somewhat personify Fergusons United. Call it arrogance, defiance, will or whatever, but under Sir Alex there was an underlying inner believe that we could, and more often than not would win. This was symbolised by an unrelenting desire to never give in, and fight till the dying minutes, as Sir Alex stated “All those late, late goals weren’t just coincidence”. This is the least we have come to expect from any United team. Now, no longer are we defiant but deflated, arrogance replaced by anxiety, and motivation replaced by misplaced passes.

The fact that Michael Carrick, hardly the most vocal of players, was summoned to do the post-match interview was further evidence of Moyes propensity to hide when the going gets tough. Roy Keane summed it up best when he stated that the “interview was as flat as the performance”. It’s also at a time like this that you have got to question why the club captain isn’t having a more dominant role re interviews. I can only assume that the impending departure of current captain Vidic ensures things are naturally of a confused nature. At a time when leadership is most needed, we are in fact devoid of such a characteristic. Ironically, it was former club captain Keane who looked the most perturbed by the performance and he was visibly upset at such a shocking display.

I have been the greatest advocate for Moyes to be given time and I still remain so, however, while performances flounder and potential success shifts further and further away it is hard to justify my support for him. While the pressure expectedly took its toll initially, what I had hoped for was the emergence of some kind of consistent style of play whereby, chronic caution was not the main tactic. Instead we have digressed further and any step forward is followed by five backward.

The thing is however; the pressure won’t subside, in fact, if anything it will increase. With at least 5/6 quality players needed, the belief is that Moyes needs to spend big. However, such a substantial outlay of finance will further increase expectation, and with added expectation comes further pressure. What remains to be seen now is whether Moyes can handle such ferocious pressure, all indicators as of yet suggest he cannot.

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You can lose games and you can lose the support of some fans, but what you can’t lose is the backing of your players. Rio previously had a go, Vidic is apparently dismayed at how his contract has been handled, Carrick stopped just short of mentioning Moyes post game, while Van Persie went one further, and had an indirect dig at how tactics are hampering his ability to find space. These are major concerns and such issues only serve as further indication that there are underlying problems within the squad. These problems are manifesting in performances, as the serious lack of togetherness, confidence, motivation and fight are consistently evident in games.

Whether it’s bad luck, bad timing, an ageing squad, an inept manager out of his depth, or the sheer enormity of pressure – it is quickly beginning to feel like everything is conspiring against the match that is Moyes and Manchester United. Sir Alex mad the impossible dream possible, but in the process he may have made the task of replacing him impossible.

7 Comments

  1. Young is as good as Nani,who is as good as Fellaini,who is as good as Wellbeck on the left wing,who is as good as Smalling playing at right back, who is as good as Kagawa on the wing……but are all better than Lingard,Rafael,Zaha and Januzai according to Moyes the Magnificent…….Well he did buy Darren Gibson from us…………

    ‘Old Trafford’…..as it is now known the ‘Theatre of Nightmares’…….A complete Madhouse where tactics,substitutions,player acquisitions,style of play,and the retention of a complete doughbag of a manager,is nothing less than MADNESS…..OLD TRAFFORD once THE THEATRE OF DREAMS…….NOW AN ASYLUM for THE INSANE….

  2. An interesting article from an erstwhile Moyes supporter which shows just how much the tide is turning.

    I was never particularly enamoured with the appointment of Moyes. His CV, as a fifty year old with fifteen years managerial experience was not impressive enough for a club as big as United. If Fergie hadn’t anointed him, he wouldn’t have made too many global shortlists. Having said that, I desperately wanted him to be successful because he was managing my team. Whilst United were lacking in two or three positions, Moyes did inherit the Champions and I expected us to be competitive this season with a view to improving the squad in the summer.

    Never did I expect the shambolic season that has eventuated. List whatever criteria you wish, it’s hard to find a positive element in Moyes’ management performance. A team’s approach reflects the character of the manager, and we saw a perfect illustration of that on Tuesday.

  3. There is nothing left to discuss about his tactics, team selections, substitutions etc. etc. but his man management skills are appalling. The way he treated the existing backroom staff and the senior players was disgusting, he came in wielding a big stick to show he was now in control and he has failed in every department. Even the most respectable neutrals have a wry smile on their faces when discussing what has gone wrong. In seven months he is slowly destroying the clubs reputation as a force in football.
    Nobody expected miracles when he took over but we did expect some direction, decent performances, motivation and desire to play football, alas we have none. To say Sir Alex left him with a dire situation and he should be given time is ridiculous, if Moyes was removed and Sir Alex brought back as a temporary solution do you think performances would improve ?
    There is one thing Moyes has been successful with and that is entertaining all our competitors especially their fans. Please do not let him loose with the money in summer get rid before it is too late.

  4. Say what you like about Moyes and in some ways I agree, their is no blame attached to Moyes for Tuesday night, the lack of effort was a disgrace, no pride in player performance, none should be wearing the badge

    • It certainly was dreadful but where was the manager at half time because the second half was even worse imo. Why wasn`t he on the touchline giving them a kick up the jaxi? The question has to be asked, have the players faith and c onfident in him?

  5. May you all never be victim of this kind og witch-hunt…..Support Your team and Your manager (or maybe we should do as the scousers and change manager every other year, cause that has proven to be such a big success…..)WE ARE MANCHESTER UNITED….act like it….IN MOYES WE (I?) TRUST……………….

  6. You know what i dont like? Its the feeling that before United kick the ball before the match, you know they will lose. The feeling that what kind of football you are watching United play makes people sad. There is no indicator of winning mentality in the team. The style of play tires me and make me like the old style of United.

    Moyes been playing players who are not good as those not playing often. Kagawa been good but the fact that he buys Mata, forces him not to play Kagawa. Nani been better than Valencia and Young even when he is 30% on form. Anderson can bring the ball forward and play forward passes which is what we are lacking at the moment.

    The style of play United plays at the moment is bring the out wide, cross the ball in. Its so predictable. No indication of other plans. I dont care if we lose but the style of play bores me. I not sure if Moyes can continue at United but if one to two seasons, the style remains like this, i not sure if i can still support him.

    Being a manager at a big club is not easy, you need to man-manage your players well. Give them confidence and belief that they can do well, even if they dont do well make them wake up and tell them they can do better next game. Not to rest them or send them somewhere where they cant make a difference.

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