Sir Alex has announced his retirement after a stint spanning 26 years and more silverware than other clubs have had over their entire history. Although it left a lot of us fans teary-eyed it is time to move on. David Moyes has been named the manager at Manchester United, and I personally believe he is a great choice for the long term. Here are three reasons why:
1. Transformation at Everton on a shoestring budget
Although the transition at Everton isn’t as stark as it is made out to be since Moyes hasn’t won any silverware with them, it is commendable that he has turned Everton, who were going to be relegated on his appointment, to a team that regularly challenges for a spot in Europe. Numbers don’t lie. Let’s take a look.
Premier League standings since 1992:
Before Moyes: 13,17,15,6,15,17,14,13,16,15
After Moyes: 7,17,4,11,6,5,5,8,7,7,6
Clearly, Moyes has delivered. It is important that we note that during this period, Everton has recorded pre-tax losses unheard of in its illustrious history, despite Moyes consistently making a net profit through his sales. This is also the period of emergence of high spending clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City, and surge of clubs like Newcastle, Tottenham Hotspurs, Aston Villa, Newcastle apart from the usual suspects, and his ability to consistently offer a strong challenge season after season for the European spots is more than commendable.
Critics often point out the lack of silverware and success in other cups in general for Moyes, but in a period of such financial turmoil, clearly increased pressure and competition, it is more than just a good manager that is needed to run a club. Several aspects like administration and finances are key elements to a manager’s success which in Everton’s case could probably have limited his performance.
Some people may doubt his ability to evolve to a higher budget and finances involved at a bigger club, but Moyes seems to have stood up to the task of evolving to the increased spending in the premier league with 4 club record shattering signings, signing James Beattie for £6 million in January 2005, Andy Johnson for £8.6 million in summer 2006, Yakubu for £11.25 million in summer 2007, and Marouane Fellaini for £15 million in September 2008, all notably good players.
So minus the financial burden and the United name on his back, Sir Bobby Charlton has rightly commented, “David will be able to express himself freely at Manchester United.”
2. Methodical Moyes
Moyes seems to have an eye for players with a plethora of great signings seen from a strong unit built out of a non-existent budget and a great work ethic. He has also been likened to Ferguson a lot thanks to his shouting at the referees and the disciplinarian approach that he has followed at Everton. For example, in the 2007-08 season at Everton, arguably his best, Everton had the least number of yellow cards in the league, 6 fewer than its nearest rival Liverpool.
So, although his ability to manage the multi-millionaire megastars at United is being questioned, I believe that his no nonsense and disciplinary approach will win him the respect that he needs from his players to run a club of United’s stature.
Moyes seems to be tactically well-endowed since Everton has not only been consistently beating teams in the bottom-half, but the bigger teams also look at Goodison Park fixture as a mighty challenge although his record against the same teams away has been woeful.
Another, and probably the most pertinent, issue that most people have apart from the lack of silverware is his relative inexperience in Europe. He has also suffered big reversal at Portuguese clubs like Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto. To this all I can really say is that even Ferguson has a suspect record in Europe, questionable tactics, inexplicable sending offs, and a general meekness in United’s play. If we were not complaining about that with Sir Alex, we are probably getting a similar deal with Moyes. So it’s not really like we are worse off, although Moyes could offer a fresher approach and perspective towards Europe.
3. Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex has said that he made the decision back in December, and he did attempt a retirement back in 2001-02. This has long been coming, and a club of united’s stature with its acclivity to long-term, stable managers would have clearly had a succession plan in place. In fact, Ferguson had mentioned recommending Moyes as his successor back in 2010. So, this should definitely be a well thought out decision with a long-term perspective.
Apart from this, Ferguson is staying on in the board of directors, and could mentor Moyes until he settles down. He has urged the fans to support Moyes, and although I hope he doesn’t have as bad a start as Ferguson had (11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, 6th in his first 5 seasons at United), we could be rest assured that he will be backed by both the fans and the administration. Typically at big clubs there is already a system of functioning in place to prevent the club from imploding and that will turn out to be the security and backing Moyes needs to really unleash himself.
All in all this does seem like the best possible decision in the given circumstances.
P.S. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, and Harry Redknapp have more Premier League wins than David Moyes.