What a difference three games can make.
Just two weeks ago, Manchester United were riding a six game winning streak in all competitions heading into their home match against Tottenham. Had United won that match they would have trailed the final Champions League position in the league by only two points; after having suffered through an extremely difficult start to their campaign.
But unfortunately injuries and poor performances have really begun to take a toll on United’s season.
Since the 2-1 loss to Spurs, Manchester United have been knocked out of the FA Cup, lost an away tie to Sunderland in the semi-finals of the League Cup and trail the Premier League’s final European spot by five points (although Liverpool hold the goal difference advantage over United).
Similar to the start of the season, there is a section of United supporters who want change.
They insist that David Moyes is the wrong manager and should be sacked and/or Manchester United need to spend £100-200m on transfers in the January transfer window in order to strengthen the current squad.
…and while the club is doing that, they should hire Mr. Miyagi to heal the bodies of Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Nani and Marouane Fellaini.
None of these things are about to happen.
Manchester United have 18 games left to play in the Premier League, a return league match against Sunderland in the League Cup, and a Champions League tie against Olympiacos. This season is not lost. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that by the actions and reactions from a section of United supporters this week.
To the faction of disgruntled Manchester United supporters, I’d like to hear your responses to the following questions and statements that I’ve read on Twitter and various other sites. Please comment below.
Here are my responses to the statements and questions I’ve seen this week:
“United need to sack David Moyes and bring someone else in!”
My response: There is no one to come in and replace David Moyes at this point in the season. That manager just isn’t out there. Show me the list of candidates who are available now who could fix the current situation in the red half of Manchester.
David Moyes was selected by Sir Alex Ferguson to be his successor. He envisioned a transition period for the club. That’s why Moyes was given a six-year contract. The club and Sir Alex Ferguson believe he is the right man to lead this club forward.
“Well, David Moyes should have never been hired in the first place! United should have gone with Jose Mourinho or another manager who had more experience at a ‘big club’!”
My response: David Moyes was hired and all the complaining in the world isn’t going to change that. There is also no telling how good Moyes will be as Manchester United manager because he’s only been in charge of the club for half of a season.
“How could this not be David Moyes fault? This team won the league by ELEVEN POINTS last season!”
My response: Every day is a new day. Each season brings its own set of challenges which need to be met.
Manchester United made one significant move last season and it benefitted the club immensely…they signed Robin Van Persie from Arsenal. The striker came into the club and singlehandedly scored goals to bring United back from tied and losing positions many times over the course of the season. Instead of drawing and/or losing matches, United were taking all three points while the rest of the league were sputtering along.
(And before anyone says: “That’s another thing! David Moyes training methods have led to Van Persie missing a huge chunk of this season!”
Arsenal supporters were laughing at United last year. They were rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the “next” Van Persie injury spell. The Dutch striker missed a ton of games for Arsenal, but through with a touch of luck he was able to make it through his first season at United largely unscathed.)
The other facts about last season are: Manchester City failed to strengthen their squad after winning the Premier League title the year before and their players admittedly became complacent. Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal were just not as strong as they are this season.
In 2012-13, United built up a large lead on City and the rest of the faltering league before heading into the final eight matches of their season. The club would then only end up taking 12 out of a potential 24 points from those last eight matches (and prior to the stretch of league games, United were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea after the Blues battled to a draw at Old Trafford and won the replay at Stamford Bridge).
Over that span of time, United lost to Manchester City (home), lost to Chelsea (home) and ended the season by conceding three goals during the final ten minutes against West Brom in a game that ended 5-5.
United didn’t exactly sprint through the finish line last season…they limped.
Oh, one other thing. Sir Alex Ferguson retired. The greatest manager in the history of English football stepped down to take another position at the club.
Manchester United Football Club lost the greatest manager in the history of British football…full stop. Sir Alex Ferguson’s list of achievements is staggering. Over his 26-year career, the Scottish-born manager won thirteen league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions League titles, a European Cup Winners Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, an Inter-Continental Cup and ten Community Shields (….take a breath). Over the course of twenty-six years, Ferguson transformed his dream of rebuilding Manchester United into a reality.
Football experts will agree that one of Ferguson’s biggest accomplishments took place over his final two seasons as Manchester United’s manager. He took a squad which was aging and glaringly weak in the midfield; and somehow organized them into title contenders.
“This squad just isn’t good enough. United need overhaul the squad and spend £100-200m on Koke, Diego Costa, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan, and Leighton Baines in January!”
My response: £100-200m is a ridiculous sum of money to spend during any transfer window.
Additionally, you’re just not going to see any big name players come in during the January window. The chances are that you may see one or two signings that would be a good fit, but the major moves for marquee players won’t happen until the summer. Teams just aren’t going to sell their best players in the middle of the season…no matter how much money you throw at them.
“Moyes and Woodward screwed up during the summer window. That’s why United are in the position they’re in now!”
My response: Absolutely right. But what’s done is done. The fact is, this is what United’s roster is going to look like until May. Whining about what the club didn’t do over the summer isn’t going to add depth to the squad or help United win any games.
The bottom line for disgruntled United fans is David Moyes will not being fired from Manchester United and the squad isn’t going to drastically improve in January. It’s very likely that the first team won’t improve at all.
What United fans can hope for is that their squad gets as close as possible to 100% healthly and those players start performing to their capabilities; or as close to perfection as they can for the remainder of the season.
Instead of being a negative influence which has already effected home performances, some United supporters can start being a positive force which will drive this team forward.
Rather than sitting quietly, moaning, booing and/or leaving the match early; some Old Trafford ticket holders need to take notes from the club’s away supporters. Manchester United’s away support is the envy of most clubs across Europe. They travel in mass to each road game (in England or abroad) and don’t stop singing for or supporting their team until well after the match is over. They have been tremendous this season and everyone involved at United will attest to that.
Every club goes through its share of difficult times. Manchester United are not immune to this.
Regardless of ‘how’ Manchester United got to where they are this season, the fact is the club is in a tough spot.
Attacking the players/manager, questioning every decision and expecting the impossible to happen (£100-200m spent in a transfer window and firing a manager who was handpicked by a legend of the club) won’t help the situation.
The best thing unsettled Manchester United fans can do is support their team.