If Sir Alex Ferguson And David Moyes Are Cut From The Same Cloth, Why Did Moyes Fail At United?

Posted: June 26, 2017 in European Football, Football, Managers, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
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The feeling at Old Trafford when David Moyes took over was, generally, one of apprehensive expectation. The problem was that nobody knew of what they were apprehensively expectant!

Moyes was untried at this level and, despite relative success at Everton, (which was keeping them in the Premier League’s top ten for years), he had won nothing of any note.

Prior to being at Everton he had spent time as manager of Preston North End where, in 1999/2000 season he led them to the second division title. The following year he got the team to the first division play-offs, where they were beaten by Bolton and the following season he left for Everton.

So, flushed with a little success in the lower divisions Moyes was given his first taste of Premier League management. He did reasonably well at Goodison and qualified for European tournaments on several occasions, although they made little impact on any of the tournaments for which they qualified.

After eleven seasons in charge Moyes left to take over at Manchester United and everybody, except Sir Alex Ferguson, wondered why he was given the job.

On the face of it there were similarities between the two. Both from Glasgow, indeed, both from Govan.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s father worked as a shipbuilder in Govan. David Moyes’s father was a draughtsman for the same company.

As a boy, Ferguson played for a youth team coached by Moyes’s father. Like Ferguson, Moyes is a graduate of Glasgow’s Drumchapel Amateurs FC, where his mother washed the team kit and his father was on the board.

Like Ferguson Moyes co-owns a racehorse. His is named Desert Cry and has run at the Cheltenham Festival.

Also like Ferguson Moyes is a supporter of the Labour party and backed Andy Burnham in the 2010 leadership election.

So the likelihood is that Ferguson saw a younger version of himself in David Moyes and, with eyes wide shut and blinkers preventing him from seeing the obvious drawbacks, the appointment was made.

The first problem Moyes encountered was that his brief was nothing like the one which was handed to Ferguson when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986. At that time Manchester United had become a sleeping giant. Sleeping, on this occasion, because alcohol, as it does, had numbed the senses of a few players and the club, quite frankly, was in a mess.

Ferguson was given time because time was needed to sort out the immense problems at Old Trafford and a new team needed to be built.

Contrary to popular belief “that goal” by Mark Robins did not save Ferguson from the sack, he was always safe anyway, although it certainly helped when they won that season’s FA Cup.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Moyes’s brief was quite simple. Take a successful team who had just finished the previous season as champions, rebuild where necessary, maintain a positive mental attitude and keep winning. All very straightforward. Except that he failed in all three departments.

Firstly, his rebuilding of the squad was made easier/harder for him by the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic deciding not to stick around. Whether they always intended to depart when they did is debatable. It is far more likely that their decision was brought forward by the arrival of Moyes.

Secondly, he acknowledged that there were teams better than United. This was true at the time but it is never something to be admitted by a Manchester United manager. When saying this he lost a lot of the supporters who had been prepared to give him a chance.

The third part of his brief, to keep winning, was always going to be the most difficult when you are a manager with no experience of how to keep winning, particularly at a club like United. So it was really no surprise that he was sacked just eleven months into his six year contract.

His time at United was followed by an even more, (if you can believe it), unsuccessful spell at Real Sociedad, where Moyes vowed to immerse himself in the culture and learn the language. He did neither, rarely moving far from his five star hotel and managing to count to four in Spanish when he wasn’t asked to. The team was relegated shortly after he was sacked.

Then, for some reason, he was given the manager’s job at Sunderland, probably because nobody else wanted it. There, he just seemed to give up. Whether finally realising that he was never really a good manager, or whether he was just fed up with the total lack of support from the owner, he left them after they became the second club in succession to be relegated after employing him.

So the only conclusion to be drawn from the downward spiral that has been the managerial career of David Moyes is that the similarities between him and Fergie are exaggerated. In fact, they are both from Glasgow, that is where the similarities end. Everything else is coincidence.


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