Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots of the National Football League, is a three-time Super Bowl champion and one of the winningest coaches in the history of the American sport. The overriding philosophy for Belichick and his teams has been a simple one: “Do your job.”
In May 2013, at a sports symposium, Belichick described the basics behind his philosophy:
“What I’ve always told our team, and what I thoroughly believe in, is that every member of our team – players, coaches, support staff and so forth – is a shareholder. They have a share in the team. Are they all exactly equal? Of course not, but they’re all shareholders. Every member of the team has an opportunity to show positive leadership or negative leadership. That’s really what it comes to. The question for that person is ‘How are they going to do that? How are they going to control that?’”
Belichick went on to state that in order to be a positive leader, an individual can do four things: “Be prepared, work hard, pay attention to the details and put the team first.” He went on to say, “It also means playing to your strengths and overcoming weaknesses.”
The Patriots head coach realizes that not every player at his disposal is of world class caliber. “They still have shortcomings, but we get them to play to their strengths,” Belichick said. “Their deficiencies don’t get spotlighted.”
It’s time for David Moyes to take a lesson from Belichick and just do his job.
First off, David Moyes needs to take full responsibility for what has gone on at the club this year.
To his credit, the Scottish-born manager has picked up the pre- and post-match script left behind by Sir Alex Ferguson. Moyes doesn’t divulge any team news prior to matches and is vague, if not repetitive, in his post-match interviews.
But instead of stating: “We created some great chances” after lobbing a footballing record 81 crosses during a 2-2 home draw versus Fulham, Moyes should have stood in front of the interviewer and stated: “I have to take the blame for this one. I didn’t put my players in a position to succeed tonight. I should have done better on my part. The players followed the game plan, but it just wasn’t good enough on my part.”
Of course people will say that a manager can’t make a statement like because he would get crucified in the media.
But if it’s a true statement…why not? It’s not like Moyes wasn’t hammered by the press following that match anyway.
A few days ago, after one of the worst European performances in the club’s history, Moyes did attempt to take the blame for his team’s effort. But fans are still left with the feeling that the manager doesn’t think what is going on at the club is his fault.
“I take responsibility,” said Moyes. “It’s my team and I always front up.” The Scot added: “It was a really poor performance. We never really got going and we didn’t deserve anything.”
“I am just surprised,” he added. “I didn’t see that level of performance coming, I just didn’t see it. It’s the worst we’ve played in Europe. We didn’t offer enough on the night to create a goal. There is undoubtedly talent at Manchester United but we didn’t show it.”
His comments, combined with pictures of him slumped down in his coaching chair, give the impression that Moyes isn’t in control of the situation at his club. It’s as if he doesn’t have an answer for why the club has gone from first in the league to seventh place in just under a year.
Great managers can also admit that they have made tactical mistakes. Moyes should have just come out after the Olympiakos match and said: “I take responsibility. Until this point in Europe, myself and my staff have done an admirable job. But tonight we just got it wrong and we put our players in a poor position. We just have to do better, and we will.”
Perhaps, if he did that, the media firestorm wouldn’t have been as huge as it turned out to be (with rumors surfacing that Manchester United are already “lining up” new managers for next season).
With all this said, David Moyes is not going to be fired from Manchester United.
The former Everton manager is a man whose tireless work ethic and coaching philosophy has produced and nurtured the talents of Wayne Rooney, Leighton Baines, Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, Séamus Coleman, Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jagielka, Leon Osman and Steven Naismith; all on a limited budget. Moyes built Everton into a club that competes in the top half of the Premier League, year-in and year-out. He is going to be given time to develop a club that fits his identity and plays with his combative nature.
And for those United fans thinking: “The majority of Moyes’ players aren’t world class talents,” my answer to that is: Wouldn’t you rather see some of those players in the United lineup this season instead of some of the current members of the club’s first team?
Regardless of that, David Moyes needs to “do his job”.
He needs to look in the mirror and understand that he has to do a better job of preparing his club, man-managing his players and putting his team in position to win games; even if that means coaching outside of his comfort zone and emphasizing an all-out attacking style.
The majority of football experts will agree that the Manchester United team we have seen for the last few years lacks quality in the midfield and has an aging defensive unit. But there is still enough quality at the club to be competing for a top four finish, not trailing the final European position by twelve points.
The players may have shortcomings, but Moyes needs to get them to play to their strengths and not have their deficiencies spotlighted. That is his job as manager.
I’m not saying David Moyes hasn’t attempted to do these things to this point in the season…but it’s apparent that he has to do them ‘better’.
“Do your job, David Moyes.”
Post script: Manchester United players and the growing number of disgruntled supporters could also start doing their jobs.
A player’s job is to “play”. Take whatever skills you have, while executing the tactics set forth by the manager, to the best of your abilities. Any issues a player has with his teammates, the club’s training philosophy and/or the manager’s tactics should be addressed in training or in a closed door meeting. They shouldn’t take place in the form of comments to the media.
Manchester United is not Real Madrid; the players don’t ‘run the club’.
Tanking performances and leaking stories to the media so that a manager will be fired doesn’t work with this club. Players need to perform to the manager’s expectations or they are replaced.
As for the majority of Manchester United fans, you have been incredibly supportive this season. Hands down (and I am definitely biased in this opinion), United’s away supporters have been the best traveling support group in England.
But there are a growing number of disgruntled home supporters who have turned the once electric atmosphere inside of Old Trafford into one dotted with pockets of vocal doubters and negativity.
Instead of starting petitions sell Tom Cleverley, or have him removed from the English national team, those Manchester United supporters need to “support” the club; that includes the each player as well as the manager.
Supporters do have it tough. They give their loyalty to a team, while investing countless time and money, even though they have no control over the day to day decisions at a club. Fans have no say in team selection, tactics, or player performances, and that can be extremely frustrating during difficult times.
But those Manchester United fans who are upset with the manager’s tactics, player performances, and the club’s lack of transfer activity need to start emulating the passionate, unwavering support of the Stretford End and the traveling Red Army.
Instead of being a source of negativity, those loyal fans have steadily been a positive force at the club. There aren’t many clubs in the world who have a section of fans as loyal as these individuals.
Of course we all have a right to voice our opinions whenever and wherever we want. But why not choose to be helpful and ‘support’ your club during a difficult time? Instead of being a weight on their shoulders, why not be the source of inspiration that can lift the players and manager through hardship?
Everyone involved at Manchester United (manager, players and fans) needs to stop worrying about what is out of their control and “just do your job”.