David Moyes is The Only One to Blame For Manchester United’s Decline

Whilst Manchester United manager David Moyes is still trying to get used to being manager of the biggest club in the world, I have been adapting to life as a married man. My darling wife has zero interest in English football, to the extent that she thinks Peter Crouch is famous for being married to Abbey Clancey. Despite this, she obviously took her vows seriously, and has, in this season of all seasons, subjected herself to watching some of the meekest and most apathetic Manchester United performances since Lassie was a pup.

A couple of weeks ago, we had watched the once mighty Red Devils crash out of the FA Cup at the first time of asking against a Swansea side that played extremely averagely and still managed to leave fortress Old Trafford as victors. After the match, Moyes explained to the gathered media that Manchester United had actually played very well, and were very unlucky to lose the game. Swansea had more possession, more successful passes, and more shots on and off target. They also weren’t even at full strength.

Following on from the home defeats to Everton and then Newcastle, Manchester United’s new manager told us “I think we played quite well in the first half” and “we maybe abused it, the amount of opportunities we got.” This synopsis of the game came after his side had amassed two shots on target, and three off target. The lack of movement was staggering, and the lack of character in the side was apparent, a recurring trait after losing two home games without even managing a single goal. Aside from 18 year old Adnan Januzaj, the more experienced professionals seemed eager to hoof the ball at the earliest opportunity, or gift it back to the Welsh side. I honestly can’t remember Tom Cleverley completing a successful pass.

After the game, my wife turned to me and asked, in a way that was as naïve as it was perceptive, “Why are Manchester United so bad now? Surely it can’t all be because of Chris Moyles?” After briefly considering correcting her mistaken reference to a fat, loud mouthed disc jockey, I instead paused to consider my answer.

I have watched Manchester United week-in and week-out now for in and around 24 years. In that time, it cannot be argued that I have been a spoilt fan of a football club. I have never experienced the threat of relegation. I have never contemplated a season without European competition. I haven’t seen my side finish lower than third during a Premier League season. Given the cyclical nature of English football, that is quite incredible. You naturally become accustomed to success. You expect it.

Reflecting on the past, for most of us, involves focusing on the positives while failures get pushed to the back of our minds. Looking back on the Ferguson era, it is easy to look back on it and think there were never any genuine trials or tribulations. The truth is there were periods of time where fans grew restless, and the media circled like vultures waiting to announce the crumbling of the empire he had built. The 2001-02 season saw them finish third in the Premier League and trophyless. Jaap Stam was sold and replaced by the ghost of Laurent Blanc. Fabien Barthez continued to falter in goal. Diego Forlan was brought in to add some attacking impetus and managed to contribute absolutely no goals and as many assists. The expensive acquisition of Juan Sebastien Veron successfully managed to upset the balance in midfield.

Fast forward to the 2004-05 season and United finished, wait for it, third in the Premier League and trophyless. Despite the arrival of the outstanding Wayne Rooney, the side coughed and spluttered to a disappointing season. Cristiano Ronaldo was still all flash and little substance. Roy Keane was no longer moving box to box like a young Michael Douglas, and the new midfield options of Alan Smith and Kleberson didn’t exactly spell title-winning side. The following season brought only success in the League Cup and the new low of being eliminated from the Champions League at the Group Stage bottom of their section, below Lille.

The important fact that follows on from these relative problems, failures, and re-building projects is that the team recovered to win titles and another European Cup, and Ferguson is rightly recognized as one of the very best managers in the history of the game. He didn’t always get it right, but overwhelmingly he bought wisely, he had a distinct playing style, and he built attacking teams with an insatiable winning mentality. This mentality was encapsulated when Ferguson was addressing his players and the media at a function the day after Manchester City had pipped them to the title in 2012. He may have been a little bit tipsy, and a tad emotional, when he said “I’m a dinosaur, an absolute dinosaur, but what I am, I’m a winner.” After having beaten Sunderland at the Stadium of Light that day, the home fans were cheering City’s title win. Ferguson went on “I said to the players yesterday, we won’t forget that, I’m telling you.”

Ferguson always gave his sides a sense of entitlement. Manchester United are winners. A defeat means a reaction, you always get a response. Whether that be in the next game, or the next season, the desire never diminished, and the mentality never changed. The season following that speech, Ferguson won yet another title with an unfancied side. Yet another time when his side accepted a challenge and ultimately won the title at a canter. The teams reflected the manager, and with isolated exceptions, if they went down, they went down fighting. His teams arguably became slightly more pragmatic on occasions towards the end of his tenure, but never lost that attacking swagger and ability to dominate, particularly at Old Trafford.

He left with the parting words to the fans: “Your job now is to support the new manager.. Moyes was reportedly Ferguson’s recommendation to the board, and signed a six year contract, as the club sought to establish on-going stability.

No one particularly needs reminding how the season has gone until this point. From their position as reigning champions, the season started badly before getting worse.  After a summer transfer window that saw United linked with seemingly every midfielder in La Liga, they ended up bringing in Marouane Fellaini for a jaw dropping £27 million. They currently sit 7th in the table 14 points off the top, are out of the FA Cup, and must overturn a deficit if they are to make it to the League Cup final. Europe has been the one bright spot with qualification from the Group Stage proving straightforward.

A brief glimpse at some statistics illustrates the apparent regression in the side’s performance levels. United have scored an average of 1.65 goals per league game this season, compared to 2.5 at this stage last season. On average, they are managing fewer shots on goal, far less passes per game – of which substantially fewer are in the final third of the pitch, and average pass completion has dropped to an embarrassing 71.7%. Anyone watching the games will know that is largely down to the side’s persistence in playing long balls from the back. Finally, and tellingly, United have failed to gain a single point from goals scored in the last ten minutes of a game. In fact the reverse is true, as points have been dropped in the final minutes against Everton and Southampton at home, and Cardiff away. The once famous late onslaught appears to be a thing of the past.

But I digress, and will return to the original question: Surely this can’t all be the fault of David Moyes? So after pausing to reflect, I explained to my barely interested wife that it was the same squad of players, but a different coaching team. I informed her that Moyes had doubtless inherited a squad that requires a level of re-structuring, but fundamentally he has a talented and deep squad bursting with internationals who are collectively a shadow of their former selves. Confidence levels of established players are at rock bottom, and there has been a worrying lack of fight during each of the defeats this season. Proven top level players are playing with no arrogance, no determination, and no belief. Players are saying the right things to the media. After the Swansea defeat, Darren Fletcher explained “We feel we have let the manager and the fans and everyone down today by losing and it’s not good enough. We’re going to have to raise our performance levels”. Those comments were followed up with a limp defeat to relegation candidates Sunderland.

Granted, United have since beaten Swansea in the league, although the regression is further illustrated with the fact that this represented a massive three points. In years gone by it would be an assumed victory. Green shoots of recovery arrived in the second half as the team regained some level of fluency in their play. However, the trip away to Chelsea had the team fall back to earth with a thud. The first half performance represented what was a marked improvement compared to recent weeks, yet they still went in at half time two goals down. It was game over after the first goal went in.

So ultimately, is David Moyes the single biggest factor in the spectacular failure that has been United’s season to date? In my opinion, yes. It was always going to be a monumental challenge for whoever took over the reins from Ferguson. My issue from the day Moyes was appointed was that United needed someone who would be brave, attacking, play the right style of soccer win or lose, and above all, be a winner and inspire his players to be like-minded. Granted, he did a credible job over 10 years at Everton, but did he genuinely excel? Did he produce sides that were pleasing on the eye and competitive against the better teams in the league? I would argue that he did not, and Roberto Martinez has done a good job at hammering that point home this season, as they sit fifth, having only lost twice, and four points above United.

We have been told to support the new manager, but at what point does loyalty have to make way for common sense? I value stability, and the vision of one man to re-mould the club. My concern is that, with the wrong man at the helm, that loyalty could do far more harm than good. From the outside looking in, Moyes is employing the tactics of a decent mid-table side, and has thus far achieved a decent mid-table position. Whatever excuses you can make for him regards injuries and the inheritance of a lightweight central midfield, the side has vastly under-performed and failure to achieve a top four finish this season could trigger a lasting decline. He is clearly not motivating his players, and the rumblings of discontent from within the squad are not surprising or difficult to understand.

I have no hope or expectation of a new manager arriving before the end of next season at the very earliest. However, I would urge the board to make a change now. The club is renowned for its loyalty to the manager, but I have seen nothing from David Moyes, past or present, to re-assure me that he is the man for the job, or even that he has any form of a cohesive plan for progression in the coming seasons. The scatter gun approach to the last transfer window is testament to that. I would be delighted to be proven wrong, but I’m sorry to say I’m preparing myself for life as a soccer fan who for once in his life is not going to be spoilt with the consistent success with which I have grown accustomed.

For more Manchester United coverage, visit the Manchester United team page for news, analysis and opinion.

24 thoughts on “David Moyes is The Only One to Blame For Manchester United’s Decline”

  1. I am not saying Moyes shouldn’t bear some blame, but managers always look better when great players are on the pitch. Take Rooney and RVP away and Utd. truly are an average club. Take Lukaku away from Everton and see just how smart Martinez is.

  2. Give (insert name of supposedly awesome manager here) a squad full of Cleverleys, Youngs, Evanses and Smallings. Add in some Giggses, Evras, Vidices and Ferdinands who have aged into uselessness. Add in an overgrown muppet as the only incoming transfer. Take away your Rooneys and van Persies. And see how supposedly awesome manager does.

    1. Moyes has control over transfers. You understand that, right? He’s the one who shelled out 27 million for Felaini. one of the main jobs of the manager is to build a decent squad. Moyes has entirely failed at that.

  3. Spot on mate…a deep strike on article. Unfortunately, must of us fans’re still blind to the fall coming ahead with Moyes & his goons (save 4 our old boys) in charge.

    1. Another “Glory Hunter” user idiot. Do any of you jealous prats know what the opposite of “glory” is??? You hunt that do you? Really? What over club is so awesome that the only think t***s can think of to pick on are the vast hordes of Worldwide support (take ECL football away from the sugar daddy clubs and see how long they last, ‘cos they can’t fill their grounds week in week out). You don’t get tourists go to the etihad or stamford bridge. Why?

      EVERY club hunts glory, it comes with winning, I’m not too aware of clubs out there that don’t want the glory, but please enlighten us on how you see the opposite of glory with your club (googled it yet?)

      Anyone can see United have the best support in the World, look at the away games, citeh,liverpool, chelski ALL of them winning yet all you can hear are the United fans!

      Why oh newcommer to football (for you must be in your 20’s to have not been there) when United were relegated in the 70’s (yes, relegated to division 2!), we still had the biggest home and away support by far? Why? Thats why United will not go the way of liverpool, when you have nearly 80k every week the comeback is inevitable, and it will taste all the more sweeter because of this “transition”. Enjoy it while you can, small town minds, ‘cos by lordy its gonna hurt when we come back quicker than you think

  4. So Moyes is to blame because he does not intimidate the FA(rce) and every match official like Sir Alky Slurgeson did?

    Well, then.

    I can usually not bear to even read about the doings of the rags – so I don’t know the answer to he following – but my immediate question would be “did Moyes want to bring in more than just the toilet brush this summer?” And the follow-up being “was he given the REALISTIC resources to do so if he did?”

    If your answers are “yes” and “no,” respectively, I don’t see how you can put this all on Moyes.

    1. …yet here you are reading this post on United! mmmm…. we’re still way more interesting that your little club whether we win,lose or draw aren’t we :-)

      “I don’t read United stuff”…he says after taking time out of his little life to comment on a United article, that he just read.lol :-)

      sounds like a bitter scouser?

      20 times 20 times Man United, 20 times 20 times I say :-)

  5. I can understand how someone who has been a supporter for a long time can take that view. But as a neutral watching from afar, they just aren’t as talented as some of the other teams. I know its almost blasphemous to speak ill of SAF, but he left the cupboard pretty bare. Last year, without RVP and Rooney for a good chunk of the season I don’t think they would have been in the CL, let alone finish 11 points clear. They also benefited from City and Chelsea underachieving. I don’t think anyone can objectively look at the roster of the big clubs and say that United isn’t lacking in players. Moyes absolutely deserves some of the blame, the transfer window has pretty poorly handled last, but a manager shouldn’t have to spend time going over youth level tackling and man marking with professionals. Valencia was marking Eto’o and just wandering off on several occasions.. Rafael with the horrible two footed tackle (who has done that at least twice in other games this season that I’ve seen this season) should have been sent off. Yes, I think Moyes deserves some stink, but the players deserve even more blame.

    1. I wonder if anyone will say,whoever wins this years title, that they benefiited from Man United underachieving or no SAF?

      Be fair, everytime United win the title, itrs because of the other teams underachieving, so lets be consistent.

      This is the same squad that won the title by 11 points, lost the title on goal difference only the year before, and by only 1 point to chelski before that. United won the title loads of times without RVP. Arsenal couldn’t win the title with RVP. Yet one season with this “poor” United squad and he has a medal.

      So if you didn’t think Fergie was a genius before, you can’t deny he is now.

      If Moyes gets through this baptism of fire, this incredible learning curve, IF he does and turns it around (he has 2-3 seasons at United to do so, the media do not run United nor do fickle fans that only knew Fergie), then it’ll be another dynasty for the rest of the league to ‘suck up’. I suspect its why the media will push and push for his sacking, because they know if he gets through this, its another 20 years of dominance.

      This season is done, over. I look forward to major signings in summer (not now), we are just 2-3 players short, thats all it will take.

  6. Utd have a “talented and deep squad bursting with internationals” is a little exaggerated. Fergie squeezed the last drop of quality out of the team last year (with the help of RVP. The Utd internationals are barely making their respective national teams. Think about Utd’s best 11 and see how many start internationally. Rooney, RVP, Carrick (maybe), Valencia, Evra?
    Not to beat the tired drum again but Moyes did inherit a declining squad and until he has a summer to put his players in place, he is only partially to blame.

  7. A little too long but a nice effort, and much better than the rubbish Kartik churns out.

    In Moyes defense, I don’t think anyone could have managed what Ferguson left behind and had the same success. Mourinho might have kept them in contention but this was always going to be a rebuilding project. The difference is Mourinho’s reputation would have also kept United competitive in the transfer market. Moyes has no such clout and it shows.

    Ferguson was appointed when expectations were very low. It gave him time to rebuild (though he almost screwed that up). When Fergie handed over to Moyes, expectations were very high coming off the back of another title. There is no time to rebuild. It was imperative United remain competitive. This they have failed to do. They are now staring at a much longer rebuilding project. It that sense, Moyes has almost made the job his own.

    I think they are looking at 1-2 seasons out of the Champions league while Moyes puts his stamp on the team. The signs are not good. Fellaini appears to have been a waste of money. It could be long slow climb back similar to Liverpool in the 90’s.

  8. Without RVP and Rooney even SAF would have struggled. Maybe not as much, mostly due to continuity, but United would still be nowhere near the top.

    Let’s judge Moyes at the end of the season after RVP and Rooney have put in their shift. One cannot expect a new manager to have an immediate impact with the squad SAF left behind. Only SAF could do better because he knew the players better.

    1. yep, largest number of fans Worldwide, biggest gates in UK home and away (win,lose or draw), always best gates even when we were bottom of league and relegated in 70’s(other teams fans leave at those points).

      There are only 2 clubs in the World that can argue that title, United and Real. Thats it. Like it or not, “in music there is Elvis and The Beatles” (liam gallagher), in football there is United and Real.

      For those of you thinking Barcelona, your in your 20’s and they have to do a lot more to get up there with those two, it isn’t just about winning, look at Real, when’s the last time they won the ECL? Still bigger name than their rivals.

      Manchester United (dear bitter) is THE biggest name in SPORT! Let alone football. Next up is the Dallas Cowboys of NFL. It’s a fact jack.

      I wish someone would have put the money into Spurs rather than citeh, ‘cos for me, they are the biggest name in London football, then Arsenal (oh you poor 20 somethings that think cheslki are). History and tradition guys, there are some clubs that got very wealthy through history,tradition and ethics NOT by sugar daddys (which is why when the suger daddys leave chelski,citeh, watch the decline, watch the “fans” leave). Something you’ll never see happen at United (or Real), they will always have sold out stadiums come rain or shine, no suggerdaddys needed, we print money at the turnstiles).

      1. Utd’s crowd average 28k when they were bottom of the league! They only went up when they started winning again. Since68 my arse

  9. I think people are being unfair to Moyes. The Chelsea game was over the moment Eto got his lucky deflection for the first goal. Right or wrong the players knew the game was over and lost all heart.

  10. United have issues at multiple levels, and Moyes’ tactics and team selection are certainly part of the equation. And yes, Fellaini is looking like a bad buy.

    That said, the two best players on his roster have been hurt all year, and that would be tough for any manager to overcome. Take away Suarez/Gerrard, Ozil/Ramsey, Aguero/Silva, or Hazard/Oscar for most of the season and their teams wouldn’t be doing as well as they are.

    Woodward and the Glazers really deserve more of the blame, as they failed to brig in the players that United so desperately needed. Moyes was left with a weak squad and asked to make the most of it. Compare United player for player with Chelsea or City and the level of talent is not even close. Rooney and RVP are the only players who are good enough to play for those teams. Think about that – United only have TWO World class players, and they’re hurt all the time.

    If anything, I blame Moyes for letting Phelan, Meulensteen, and the rest of the staff go. That was his biggest mistake!

    1. you can never go bust when your stadium sells out (even when a cup side and relegated 1970s) every week, it is a license to print money, debt is irrelevent. Clubs with suger daddys need to worry that their benefactors don’t get bored, ‘cos the moment the money leaves, so do the so called fans. Chelsea were 3-1 up to the Champions and yet all you could hear were the United fans. Same at Sunderland before that, and away to liverpool and citeh.

      Don’t be fooled by the media hype to the twitter generation that if you don’t get top 4 you lose all that money and its game over. Sorry, nah. United are still United, nearly 80k will still pour through those turnstiles every week, you’ll still see tourists outside Old Trafford EVERY DAY spending money. Sorry bitters, enjoy this transition, it won’t last, it may take another season or two, but dominance will return. Just look at Januzaj, worth the price of a ticket alone, long term contract, Father a United fan :-). United were only a RVP short of beating chelski, a lot is just confidence, chelski get a lucky first goal, thems the breaks, United ‘ain’t getting them. See how many other teams get on if you take 2 of their best players out!

  11. I tend to agree with the premise of the article. I think he’s basically saying that Moyes should go because he’s pretty dramatically proven that he isn’t good enough. It’s obvious that the players on the field aren’t doing their part either, but United is a big club and they should aspire to having world-class players AND a world-class manager. Just because the players are currently (mostly) not world-class doesn’t mean that you accept a manager who isn’t world-class either.

    Moyes is just like a player from a mid-table club who gets bought by a big club and can’t *quite* get it done at the highest level because he’s not that good. There’s nothing in Moyes’ performance this season that suggests greatness. It isn’t like he’s put in some astute little changes that make you think, “You know….with the right players, this system could work nicely…” He’s just mediocre. If you keep mediocrity around your organization you become mediocre.

    Time to try something new. Keeping Moyes is just saying, “We accept mediocrity.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *