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The challenge ahead for Moyes at United

David Moyes Manchester United

David Moyes Manchester United

Its been a turbulent week for United fans. The unthinkable prospect of Manchester United being managed by a man other than Sir Alex Ferguson will be realised very soon. David Moyes is the man who’s been given the Herculean task of replacing the irreplaceable and was been hand picked by the legend itself. So the question that has to be addressed is ‘Is Moyes the right choice?’

Before we get into that, lets first take a look at just what he has on his hands at Old Trafford. Having wrapped up the league with 4 games to spare, United are sitting pretty at the top of the table with a double digit lead. 6th placed Everton are a massive 25 points off United which is astonishingly the same gap between them and the relegation zone. Not too shabby for what is apparently a poor team. In Europe this season, United were solid rather than spectacular. They did a stellar job against a strong Real Madrid side and would’ve fancied their chances of making the semifinals at least if not for the unfortunate Nani sending off.

Looking at the squad, Moyes definitely has the firepower at his disposal to match any team in the land. In the likes of De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Cleverley, Kagawa and Welbeck, United have a backbone of young talent. Not to mention Zaha coming in. As is the case with United, there is also a conveyor belt of talent coming up through the ranks and Moyes will be expected to give them a chance to impress if he feels they’re talented enough. In Ferdinand, Vidic, Giggs, Rooney (should he stay) and Van Persie, Moyes will find able allies to lead the dressing room and usher in what is a new era at Old Trafford. Of course, this is a squad that Moyes has inherited and not built so we could expect a few ins and outs this summer. The central midfield of course could and should be his main area of concern and most United fans like me would be hoping this issue is addressed.

Talking about transfers, Moyes’ work at Everton although solid, graduates to impressive when you take into account the resources or rather, lack of  resources he had. According to transferleague.co.uk, Everton lie in 15th place in the table in terms of net spend since 2003. He will face no such problem at United. Joshua Raymond had some interesting research at City Index: “Manchester United’s commercial dominance has been further entrenched within their quarterly numbers. Revenues rose broadly in line with market expectations of close to 30% to £91.7m, whilst the recent success of winning the Premier League will also enable the club to secure more lucrative sponsorship deals and increases the value of the Man Utd brand. There remains an open question however on the sheer volume of sponsorship deals being secured, which may slow but could also impact the long term value of the brand. For now though, these numbers will likely please shareholders.”

This will indeed please Moyes too. Despite the high debt that the club is burdened with owing to the Glazer family, Moyes will have the required financial backing in terms of transfers.

Moving on to the tactical side, I would like to see if Moyes changes his approach solely in terms of setting his side up with a slightly more attacking mindset than he used to at Everton. Moyes, like Sir Alex prefers the 4-4-1-1 formation and more often than not that is the system he deploys. With most of the players at United already accustomed to the above mentioned system ,it would come as no surprise if Moyes sticks to it.

Speaking of parallels between Moyes and Ferguson, they both put an emphasis on wing play. United of course  have a rich tradition of quality wingers and one look at the graphic given below will show that Everton have relied on the wings for a considerable percentage of chances created this season.

Everton's chance creation this season via Sqauwka

Everton’s chance creation this season via Squawka

A key part in Everton’s attacking threat on the left is Leighton Baines. Baines, who has already been linked to United in previous transfer windows, has formed a good partnership with Pienaar on the left. With Pienaar being right footed, he has a natural tendency to cut inside thus freeing up space for Baines to run into.

Key passes and assists by Baines via Sqauwka

Key passes and assists by Baines via Squawka

 

Even if the Everton man does not follow his boss to Manchester, Patrice Evra would be more than happy to bomb forward as he already does. The Frenchman has enjoyed a good season and would want to continue his resurgence under the new boss.

Seeing as how Arteta flourished at Goodison Park, one would expect Michael Carrick to continue to his rich vein of form under Moyes. This could also be an important time for Tom Cleverley. Sir Alex has been careful with the use of Cleverley and it remains to be seen what Moyes’ approach to him will be. With reinforcement in the midfield department likely, it is up to Cleverley to show that he is deserving of a regular spot in the heart of midfield.

What was cited as a factor against Moyes’ appointment was his lack of European experience. Yes ideally you would want someone with a bit more experience in Europe than him but what United fans should put foremost is the need for stability. Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge for a mammoth 27 years. 27 years! Like many fans, this is more than my entire life. Thus this is uncharted territory for most and more than anything what United needs at this time is stability.

And for me, Moyes is the ideal man to provide it. He has shown already in his 10 years in Merseyside that he has the ability to rebuild teams and maintain consistency for a prolonged spell. With a 6 year contract, he has ample time to do the same at United. What is paramount is that he must remember to continue the tradition of promoting from within the club. United have a rich heritage in that regard and the fans would look to Moyes to continue to do so.

So do I think Moyes was the right choice? In short yes. Perhaps a Mourinho would be a more glamorous option and in the shorter term maybe more successful. But I believe that in the longer term, the choice of Moyes will be vindicated. It is now important for the fans to get behind the new man. This is a period that for many may be alien. Under Sir Alex, United’s consistency has been nothing short of freakish. To expect the same immediately from Moyes would be unfair to him and indeed to ourselves. The best we can do is support him and hope that David Moyes can repay not only our faith but also the faith shown in him by the legend whose massive boots he’s stepping into.

Arnab Ray

Arnab Ray

Arnab is an opinionated Bengaluru FC and Manchester United fan. Always up for a good football discussion/ petty argument.
Arnab Ray

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