Thoughts on David Moyes’ sacking

After a pitiful 2-0 defeat to Everton, which mathematically denied Manchester United Champions League football for next season, David Moyes has officially been sacked and Ryan Giggs is taking over as interim manager.  Louis van Gaal is the bookmakers favorites to take the job full time after his World Cup campaign with the Netherlands finishes.

Normally I’d be fully against sacking Moyes, since many clubs tend to capitulate when faced with a bad performance.  He has a 6 year contract so there would be a substantial compensation package in order (although it’s small change compared to what Manchester United make annually).  But I think that in the end, United are saving themselves from an immediate expensive mistake and in the long run, it may be the best course of action for all parties involved.

  1. David Moyes didn’t have an explicit vision of where he wants this club to go.  Yes, it’s one thing to have bad results and finish midtable, but with a clear plan for the future. Last year, Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers finished in 7th.  This year, they’re on pace to win the league though because Brendan Rodgers was attempting to institute a philosophy of passing, pressing, and building play up in a more progressive style.  With David Moyes, he lacks identity as I wrote about earlier here.
  2. Which brings us to the point about the money.  Regardless of who took over Manchester United, it was obvious that Sir Alex was getting way more out of this team than normal so reinvestment would always be necessary; however, entrusting a manager with £150 million and no vision, is a recipe for disaster especially with Financial Fair Play set to take shape. The scale of failure would be humongous especially for a manager who was most successful when he was minimizing the risk or could point to serious constraints that held him back.  Yes the players do need replacing, but not to that magnitude with the right man in charge.
  3. Moyes’s objective was to qualify for the Champions League at the bare minimum. United should be in the top 4 or still well in the chase for it by putting serious pressure on Arsenal and Everton.  Instead, United have shown little second half improvement despite a couple of big wins against midtable sides who don’t have much to play for and horrible results against the teams above them.
  4. Finally, and this is the most crucial point, there were several signs that Moyes didn’t believe he was the right man for the job.  He’d frequently use words like “try to” and “hopefully” and seemed to accept mediocre performances.  From stating that Liverpool were favorites at Old Trafford, to wanting to “aspire to be like City” after a 3-0 defeat, to saying United “controlled the game” at Everton despite losing 2-0 and creating no chances, Moyes really dug himself into a hole.  It’s one thing to lose a game or two with bad luck (i.e. Stoke away, Spurs at home) but losing 3-0 at home to your two biggest rivals with misguided tactics, no real plan of attack, and constant tinkering just makes it look like Moyes was trying too hard to be something that he fundamentally is not.

Favorites for the job/What should we expect?

The big favorite for this job, and most likely candidate is Louis van Gaal.  He has had success with Barcelona and Bayern, but has shown he can succeed with traditionally midtable outfits like AZ Alkmaar.  In terms of temperament and management style, he’s very similar to Sir Alex Ferguson’s authoritarianism. His style of football fits in with a United side that likes to take risks late on and his commitment to developing young players.  Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa, and Juan Mata will all thrive, while Robin van Persie will have familiarity with him.  The prospect of Dutch style, total football at a club like Manchester United is something that’s desperately needed if United want to be competitive not just in the Premier League but also with the Bayerns, Barcelonas, and Real Madrids of the world.

While I agree Moyes had to go, and van Gaal would be a better manager, United are definitely setting themselves back a year. Chelsea in year 2 under Jose Mourinho will have a top class striker, Manchester City under Pellegrini will have continuity and most of their players at their peak.  Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers will likely be the defending champions and will reinvest to add squad depth to keep up with their Champions League commitments.  A league title therefore looks difficult; however, by setting themselves back a year and getting a manager like van Gaal, United are at least minimizing the risk of several expensive mistakes this summer.

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