For Man United and Moyes, miles to go

Published : Jul 06, 2013 00:00 IST

David ideal fit at Old Trafford.-AP
David ideal fit at Old Trafford.-AP

David ideal fit at Old Trafford.-AP

David Moyes must stamp his own authority on Manchester United. With a six-year contract signed, he has all the ingredients to be a huge success at Old Trafford. But miracles do not happen overnight. Whilst the squad boasts fantastic young players, the chasm that Ferguson left will take years and trophies, to fill. By Rohan Parmar.

The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United after 27 glorious years, winning an incredible 38 trophies has led many to question whether the Scotsman’s departure will bring an end to United’s dominance of English football.

The legacy that Sir Alex Ferguson has left behind is simply too great to describe. Manchester United has won the Premier League titles at a canter; and Ferguson has seamlessly overseen the evolution of different United teams, knowing when to sign, nurture and even replace key players.

Often replacing players with young men who have gone on to become stars, Ferguson has forged a unique tradition at Old Trafford, instilling the ethos of promoting youth team players from within the club. Like a general sending his troops into battle, Ferguson’s mere presence on the touchline would affect the opposition, the officials and galvanise his team.

While United fans globally may have been surprised at the appointment of David Moyes as Ferguson’s replacement, those on the terraces at Old Trafford have largely voiced their approval. In Moyes, United have a man cut from the same cloth as Ferguson.

Moyes is a tough Glaswegian, who demands discipline, loyalty and commitment from his players. His eleven-year tenure at Everton saw them challenge the top teams on a consistent basis, despite a budget that nearly all other teams could better.

But now it is going to be the true test of his managerial abilities. Leaving a club whose aspirations lay in a top five finish to leading a club where failing to win at least one trophy a season will call for his sacking.

But one needs to analyse the different power structures of English football. While this may seem unbelievable, a top three finish for United, with the addition of the FA or League Cup will represent a solid debut season for the new manager. United do not have the squad in place to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League title.

Domestically, rivals Chelsea and neighbours Manchester City have begun, under their new managers, to try and wrestle the title back from United. The purchases of Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, with the seemingly imminent arrival of Spanish wonder-kid Isco will enhance a Man City team that stagnated after winning the title in 2012.

Chelsea under Jose Mourinho need no introduction. With only one championship won since his departure from the Blues, it is that kind of glory both Mourinho and his players crave for. A mid season collapse that has occurred every time since his departure will not be tolerated.

It should be noted that the latter half of the last season saw United struggle to match up to the midfield power of City and Chelsea. A lack of quality in midfield is the area Moyes has to address. The much maligned Glazer family have, aside from the purchase of Robin van Persie, often spent small sums on younger players that can develop in time. Moyes will have to spend big this summer to ensure United remain on an equal footing. The main threat to the Red Devils’ crown might come from the blue half of Manchester. Mourinho’s Chelsea, also in transition, may need a season like United, to consolidate.

What will be interesting is Moyes’ tactical approach. United have historically played attractive attacking football, with two wingers and two strikers. But among the elite of Europe, a 4-2-3-1 formation, with two holding midfielders that gives extra protection to the defence, has been favoured. This formation was used to deadly effect by treble winners Bayern Munich and this seasons’ surprise package Borussia Dortmund. Ferguson himself has not been averse to using this formation, often deploying it in tough European away games.

But such is the quality of the modern day Premier League across the board, Moyes may decide to opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation. If he does so, it will mean a straight choice between van Persie and Wayne Rooney for the striker’s spot. Moyes’ legacy as United boss, in much the same manner Ferguson’s was secured, will be judged on his decisions in the transfer market. Moyes does not have the quality of youth players in United’s academy as Ferguson had at his disposal in the 1990’s. If he can reawaken the disillusioned Rooney, it will be a major coup for a player who for the second time in three years has requested a transfer away from Old Trafford. There is no doubt that Rooney on form is one of the best strikers in world football. Moyes, Rooney’s former manager at Everton, knows the player well, and he if anyone is the man who can convince Rooney to stay.

But the bottom line is that Ferguson’s shadow will forever be cast over the future managers of Manchester United. He has long been and forever will be immortalised among United fans and his relentless never-say-die attitude has proven to be the bedrock of the most colourful period of success in the club’s history. He has seen off the different challenges of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City over the past 20 years to cement himself as one of the greatest managers of all time.

In Moyes, United have a potential match made in heaven. A man, that mirrors Sir Alex in many ways, must stamp his own authority on the team. With a six-year contract signed, he has all the ingredients to be a huge success at Old Trafford. But miracles do not happen overnight. Whilst the squad boasts fantastic young players, the chasm that Ferguson left will take years and trophies, to fill.

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