Man Utd: Directors must share the blame

No excuses, the board must deliver this summer – whoever replaces Moyes

Ryan Giggs’ inaugural game as player-coach of his beloved Man Utd had many quarters of the media prematurely swooning over the Welshman’s long term managerial credentials, but in truth – an emphatic home victory over a plummeting Norwich City side didn’t prove much.

After a week fuelled by strong speculation over the impending future of Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal, the Glazers could do far worse than look to appoint a man with genuine European pedigree, experience of working at big clubs with equally big expectations and a history of winning silverware.

And for me, this is what United have been lacking since Alex Ferguson’s retirement: that draw, the pull of a winner at the helm.

The Old Trafford board have entered the previous two transfer windows with a naïvety they must correct with the right appointment this time around.

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The fact that most top players would have jumped at the chance to play under Sir Alex had made recruiting new talent considerably less laboured under the old regime. However the glaring failures off the field this season, shows me the club may have forgotten how to drive after being on autopilot for so long. This was no more apparent than the debacle surrounding Bebé’s arrival back in 2010 and the startling admission by Ferguson that he had never seen him play before he was signed; the club have been lax in the transfer market for too long now. Previously their own youth players have become their recruitment bread and butter, but now must learn how to play the market once more in the hunt for world class additions.

Previously, Ferguson’s reputation became intertwined with the club’s own reputation and now, with a new manager, they must start afresh and forge a new identity.

David Moyes, despite being personally selected by the legendary Scot, simply couldn’t carry the weight of expectation following two decades of triumph. The fact he may not have been a glamorous choice might not have mattered. The fact he that he had never managed top, top players before might not have mattered. Nor the fact he hadn’t any European experience previously or that he had never won a trophy. But all four together shows a strange loyalty and obligation to the former manager, particularly when the stakes were so high. The club’s directors should have asked an opinion at most, rather than reward the ex-manager with a responsibility that fell outside even his extensive know-how.

The outcome now is that even Ferguson’s impregnable reputation has been tarnished, and his constant presence at Old Trafford this season was brought into the spotlight far more than it should have done every time the new man faltered. It was an added pressure Moyes simply didn’t need.

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Getting back to Moyes’ lack of continental reputation, it is no surprise at all that deals for Fabregas and Herrera last summer had most likely never progressed beyond preliminary enquiries. A panicked swoop for Marouane Fellaini at an extortionate £27.5m attempted to appease fans and the new manager from a truly embarrassing start to a new era. The frizzy-haired Belgian has largely underwhelmed since his moved, underlined by Giggs’ decision to leave him out of the matchday squad at the weekend.

Man Utd’s only other signing in the now infamous Moyes reign was Juan Mata, who came off the bench to emphatic effect against the Canaries, netting a brace. The Spaniard’s arrival facilitated only by Jose Mourinho’s tactical integrity and a desire to bring in energetic and hardworking attacking midfielders who could also defend. All said, Man Utd got very lucky with Mata, again papering over the increasingly large cracks appearing in the Old Trafford walls.

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If Louis van Gaal were to take the Man Utd hotseat, not only could they steal Tottenham’s reported first choice managerial target from under their noses, but it would also present them with a more recognisable model and therefore direction.

Their absence from this season’s title race has probably been fairly refreshing to most (while also unintentionally playing a big part in one of the most open and exciting Premier League campaigns for many years), but Man Utd fans are certainly within their rights to demand a lot more fight on the pitch.

Which brings me onto another oversight on the Moyes appointment; the personality and command required to manage top players. This Man Utd side has lost games with a whimper far too often this season, and have contributed to the crumbling walls of the once Old Trafford fortress. For all intents and purposes, this is the same team that were champions a year ago.

The respect for Moyes, or lack of it I suspect, isn’t necessarily the Scot’s fault at all. I just don’t believe the board did everything they could and should have done to bring in the right fit: that’s what job interviews are for.

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The board have a very big decision to make over the coming weeks, especially with a reported £100m summer transfer kitty in the offing, and candidates such as van Gaal or even Carlo Ancelotti are precisely the high profile names that are required to resurrect such a high profile club.

After honouring Alex Ferguson’s choice, the Man Utd directors now assume full responsibility going forward for the appointment.

Quite simply, they can’t afford to fail the fans a second time.

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