Firstly, I am not a David Moyes supporter. He wasn’t my first choice as a successor to Sir Alex Ferguson. For what it’s worth, Moyes wasn’t even on my list of potential candidates as Manchester United’s new manager. But those decisions aren’t in my hands. And unfortunately as a fan, we just don’t have a say in those matters.
With that said, I am a former coach (albeit of a different sport). I know the difficulties and issues involved when a new coach (manager) assumes control of a new team.
In most cases, there is a minor transition period where as a team’s production drops off as compared to the season before. That can be expected. What fans would hope for are signs that the team is moving in the right direction. That “progress” provides hope that there will be success in the future.
Sometimes there is actually a “spike” and the team thrives under the new leadership. In the long run, that spike may only prove to be temporary or it could continue towards an upward trend.
Then there are times when the new management and its inherited team are met with failure. David Moyes and Manchester United are currently in the midst of such a scenario.
Because none of the parties involved will actually come out and make public statements damning individuals specifically, fans are being left to speculate over what is going on inside the club. Supporters can only listen to the opinions of footballing experts, tabloid articles, unnamed sources, former players and managers on the issues going on behind closed doors at Manchester United.
All of this leads to misinformation and uncertainty.
In spite of this, with Manchester United suffering through one of the most difficult seasons in its recent history, the one thing that has been a constant has been the support of their fans. I’m not referring to the ones who follow the matches on television and/or who take to Twitter to voice their pleasure/frustrations about the club. I’m talking about the season ticket holders at Old Trafford and the travelling Red Army. These supporters have remained loyal to the club and stood by the new manager despite watching some uninspired player performances and seeing Manchester United hit all-time lows.
Now it has been reported that a group of Manchester United supporters have come together through the Red Issue website and raised almost £1,000 to have a plane fly over Old Trafford during Saturday’s match against Aston Villa, pulling a banner that will call for manager David Moyes to be sacked. The arrangement is for the plane to carry the message: “Wrong One – Moyes Out” as a response to the “Chosen One” banner that has hung inside of Old Trafford.
This action will only further damage the club’s image, open it to even more ridicule from rival clubs and tarnish the reputation of each match-going supporter of Manchester United.
One of the biggest differences between Manchester United and other top clubs has been the patience and unwavering loyalty of its supporters. The value of United’s fans cannot be underestimated. Players and managers from every club across Europe have gone out of their way to comment on the unity and cohesiveness between Manchester United, the club and its supporters.
Earlier this season, a Chelsea supporter reminded me of comments made by manager Jose Mourinho during the heat of the summer transfer saga involving the London club and Manchester United. With the media pumping out daily stories of Rooney’s imminent departure, and anticipation of a harsh reception during his first match back at Old Trafford, the striker turned in a man of the match performance against Chelsea. Instead of jeers, Rooney was roundly applauded and serenaded throughout the contest by United supporters.
Mourinho’s post match interview speaks volumes to how he and most managers view Manchester United:
“This club must be a very special club because at every club in the world, when the player wants to leave they [the fans] don’t support him. When a player wants to leave, they give him a hard time — but [here] they support him all the way, so I think this is a real special club with special fans.”
That loyalty and stability is one of the major reasons Manchester United is one of the world’s greatest franchises. The fans are a major recruitment tool for the club, whether it be for growing the club’s commercial successes (sponsorships) or the recruitment of world class players.
All one has to do is look at Manchester United’s colossal sponsorship deals. The latest being a reported world-record kit deal with Nike estimated at £600million over ten years; or read Juan Mata’s blog to see how quickly the Spanish international and two-time former Chelsea Player of the Year has been won over by the passion and loyalty of Manchester United fans.
Yes, David Moyes has done an abysmal job of navigating his way through his first season at one of the world’s biggest clubs. His tactics (as compared to United’s previous staff) have been questionable and he has also done a poor job of man-managing the players he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson. While some players have flourished under Moyes, the majority look uninspired or a shadow of their former selves.
With that said, this is not David Moyes’ team. It is apparent that some of United’s players don’t like playing for Moyes and/or the manager doesn’t value some of the players he inherited. He should be given the summer and the next January window before he is judged on his performance. He needs time to build a club in his image and one that buys into his philosophy.
For anyone who hasn’t read the Harvard Business Review’s article on Sir Alex Ferguson and his formula for success, the former manager mentioned “Dare to Rebuild Your Team” as one of his keys for a club’s long term fortune.
David Moyes needs more than nine months and two transfer windows to build “his” team. And he needs the loyalty and stability of Manchester United supporters.
If the club is in a similar position at this time next season, it’s safe to say there won’t be any need for public outcry. There will be no need for a plane flying over Old Trafford carrying a sign or fans protesting outside the grounds… Moyes will be sacked. But until then, Manchester United fans need to support their club and its manager.