Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Moyes will be Moyes

A little under seven months ago, as the rain hammered down at an emotional Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson addressed the famous old ground for one final time. While the tributes poured in and past glories were recounted, one small but not insignificant request was made: for the United fans to stand by their new manager. And most of us did...for a bit.

When news of Ferguson's imminent retirement reached me, I remember waking up in a Derby hotel room (don't ask me why I was in Derby, let's just say my early career path has taken me to some weird and wonderful places) feeling a strange mix of fear and confusion, a bit like being stuck in one of those 'naked' dreams. Ferguson's tenure as United boss far exceeded my time on this earth, so the idea of him being replaced was one I struggled to come to terms with. I felt like a kid whose parents had divorced and I would be forced to put up with my Mum's new man, even calling him 'Dad' while he awkwardly attempted to build bridges between us.

When my new 'Dad' (I'm going to see how far I can take this analogy) was announced as David Moyes, I was unsure of how to react, but looking back I now feel the right decision was made, even if United currently sit eighth in the Premier League. In the aftermath of Fergie's retirement, I said a few things I didn't mean out of grief and confusion - you know how it is. I even yearned for Chelsea's current boss Jose Mourinho, but looking back, the right decision was probably made.

"How have you come to that conclusion?" I hear all three of you ask?

Have you ever looked at your two favourite foods and thought: "if only I could combine them"? I had, until I realised that steak and ice cream is not a desirable mix. What I'm trying to say is that sometimes what you think will be a match made in heaven actually gives you food poisoning. Mourinho ended up going to Chelsea, and that is a move that suits both the manager and the club. Mourinho is the globe trotting mercenary, achieving success for the highest bidder, while Chelsea are just that - the perpetual highest bidder. The two deserve each other.

United, on the other hand, like Scottish managers. Perfect.

So why have United struggled under Moyes so far? Well, their cause wasn't helped by a summer transfer window which promised much but delivered very little. Ferguson's departure actually left an opportunity for United to improve. For all the great man had achieved, there were suggestions that he was losing his touch, in his tactics if not with his motivation, so United had a chance to add a few new players of real class. In the end, Moyes managed to spend almost £30 million on a player who has not improved a midfield which already had less flair than Lidl toilet paper. Still, United must have recouped most of that investment in wig sales alone by now...

So, without strengthening United's greatest weakness, the team were hardly going to get better. How much of United's pathetic transfer window is down to Moyes alone is open to debate, but the man ended up looking a bit like Jay from Inbetweeners, making large statements he was unable - or unwilling - to back up. In fact, although this analogy has been done to death, he really did look like the guy who tried to pull all the best looking women at the party, but ended up with the host's aunt.

So United were left with a strong, but vulnerable squad and in Ferguson's absence, the players were left without the Fergie factor which often conjured that crucial extra 5% from them. Think about it, this was a man who got Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck into the England team on the basis of them winning the Premier League. And nothing else. Moyes hasn't quite developed this ability yet, but he is starting to make progress.

But we did lose at home to West Brom.

That said, those predicting a total collapse from United are probably jumping to conclusions. Sure, a title triumph may be beyond the team this season and even next, but so what. As United fans, we have been spoilt for a long time, with success taken for granted. Our new Dad isn't going to deliver straight away, he needs to unpack all his things and do other step dad related stuff. There's still time for him to take us to the park, pick us up from school and buy us KFC. In this analogy, this means PLAY SHINJI KAGAWA AND NEVER LET ASHLEY YOUNG ANYWHERE NEAR A UNITED SHIRT.

Tomorrow, Moyes leads his new side out to play against his former team, Everton. In many ways, I expected Everton to cope worse without Moyes than we would without Ferguson, but the Merseysiders approach the game ahead of United in the Premier League table and looking to deliver a potentially fatal blow to United's title bid. Moyes himself had an annoying knack of inspiring Everton to amazing performances at Old Trafford. In fact, their 4-4 draw at the ground in 2012 still causes me to wake up at all hours of the night screaming in anguish and biting my fist until it bleeds.

For United, it is arguably a must win game, not just for the three points, but also because it would be good for Moyes to draw a line under his past and look to his future. As United fans, we are going to have to do the same. Stand by your man guys, stand by your man.

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