A few months ago, I wrote an article on this website detailing what David Moyes had to do to salvage Manchester United’s wretched season. Since then, it has gone from bad to worse. Surely the club are now at their lowest ebb for decades having been humiliated at the weekend by their fierce rivals Liverpool who, for so long, have been in the shadow of the Red Devils. The score line and the completely inept performance has heightened the pressure on Fergie’s chosen one and it has got to the point where, even if he survives the sack for the time being, it doesn’t look as if he’ll go on to make any sort of impact whilst in the Old Trafford hot seat.
Make no mistake, unlike almost every other club in the higher echelons of the English game, United are not accustomed to having to undergo a transition period. Before a ball was kicked this season, everyone knew it would be tough for Moyes to follow up the legacy of unparalleled success that Sir Alex Ferguson left behind. They weren’t fancied by many to defend their title, to even be considered as a contender sounds generous now given their dreadful campaign which sees them fourteen points off the top four – let alone the top of the league.
However, whilst even Manchester United fans would accept that immediate success under Moyes was never likely, even they couldn’t have imagined a struggle like this. The title had gone before Christmas, the Champions League spots are now (realistically) out of sight as well and even a Europa League spot looks threatened. No European football at all would cause lasting damage for United. The team who now look streets ahead of them – Liverpool – have had to endure a four year wait to return to the Champions League. United will have their work cut out to return to the competition in the near future as the four teams that look as if they’ll qualify have taken giant strides forward this season whilst United have been heading in the other direction. It’d take some turn-around to transform them into a top four side next season, that’s for certain.
More worryingly though for United is the fact that many of their performances this season have been way below the standards which they’ve set for themselves over the years. Whatever Moyes’ vision for the club is, or however he hopes to rebuild the squad or however he wants them to play, it hasn’t worked out. In fact, there hasn’t been much evidence of it at all this season. Liverpool fans were worried that they were going backwards under Brendan Rodgers. Despite not finishing in a European spot, there were definitely signs that Rodgers’ philosophy was taking shape. At the moment, it’s difficult to say the same about Moyes and United. If there is evidence of change, it can’t be for the better given their results.
Whilst it’s good to see a manager given time when most other clubs would have succumbed to a knee-jerk reaction before now, it’s difficult to see Moyes making an impact at Old Trafford. In all honesty, before the start of the season I saw Moyes and United as a good fit and that the Scot would eventually be successful in the long term. It seems to be the total opposite now. Moyes increasingly looks like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders and he increasingly doesn’t look like the right man to lead United. Ultimately, he should be judged on next season and his attempts over the summer to overhaul the squad which is much needed. But in one disastrous season, a lot of damage has been done and if Moyes is to get United back on track, he’ll probably have to endure a couple of years of struggles like this – if he gets that long.