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[4] A Red Perspective on David Moyes… The right jockey? by Pete Burton

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  • [4] A Red Perspective on David Moyes… The right jockey? by Pete Burton

    A Red Perspective on David Moyes… The right jockey?

    The right jockey?

    Paying homage to recent horse analogies, many are asking whether David Moyes remains the right jockey. Having inherited thoroughbred Champions, the team has looked more like a tired old nag, no longer as capable of sailing over hurdles put in it’s way. The home performance against Liverpool was simply embarrassing. No inspiration whatsoever. No fight, except from United’s fans with the 20 times defiance at the end. Before the match why say Liverpool were favourites – even if it was true!

    Moyes hasn’t hit the ground running like some other new jockeys – Mourinho – Pellegrini – Guardiola – Ancelotti - Martinez. The latter is the most worrying. An Evertonian season ticket holder I know is smugly pleased with the more exciting brand of football at Goodison this season.

    Last summer why sign Fellaini and not the young colt Barkley? Moyes persists playing people in wrong positions like Mata, Kagawa, Rooney, Smalling and Jones. He keeps picking Young, Cleverly and Valencia when their form says ‘no’. The team has no pace; his tactics look naïve. United are now just so predictable. As each month goes by a new low is hit.

    I have noticed Moyes often says ‘they’ instead of ‘we’ in interviews – a small, but telling fault. His handling of the media has been increasingly poor. United’s manager shouldn’t keep banging on about bad luck, even if we have had less than our fair share. United’s manager shouldn’t appear so bankrupt of ideas, or inspiration, or show it, like he and others did during the Olympiakos debacle. He shouldn’t say ‘I have no idea where that performance came from’. Most worryingly, the players just don’t seem properly motivated. The collapse in form is startling.

    To be fair, Moyes handled the Rooney saga reasonably well, after Fergie’s hospital pass, although the new deal at around £300K a week for 4.5 years seems almost desperate. I guess the cost to replace would have been considerable, so on balance his re-signing isn’t the worst piece of business. But is he really worth that much?

    Fergie really did leave quite a poisoned legacy. I know he somehow inspired a twentieth title win last season, but most of us felt so much was already wrong with the squad, whilst our rivals were in various states of self induced incompetence. United haven’t looked really right for several years now.

    That Glazer effect

    Behind the management concerns, there’s a fundamental reason behind the present decline in Fergie’s empire. Plain speaking Keano called it right in a recent interview. He latched on to the key fact: since the Glazer takeover in 2005, over £700 million has been wasted on debt; bank and family fees, whilst £383 million has been spent on players.

    That yawning gap of around £300 million would have kept United in amongst the biggest clubs in the transfer market, paying for many top class re-inforcements. Maybe a Hazard, at the right time, or an Aguero. United just haven’t competed for that very highest level of stars in recent seasons. The acquisition of Van Persie and Mata were exceptions, but both those were more like opportune signings. United’s net spending level over recent years has been too low for any major club. The midfield engine room has been in steady decline, masked by the genius of Fergie until this season.

    Now various chickens have come home to roost, with United exposed after years of under spending. The investment in the team needs to be substantial and ongoing, if United are to get back to anything like a position of dominance in England, never mind Europe.

    Perhaps FFP will help, but on UEFA’s previous track record don’t hold your breath. Etihad FC’s losses over the last three years amount to an eye watering £347M, even with their dodgy deals masquerading as income from their owner’s family related corporations. Chelski, if you believe Mourinho, are abiding by FFP but not really, as their actual losses prove! Our spend has essentially come from United’s fans, you and me, not from one Russian, or an Arab sugar daddy. It does amuse me when I hear so many nouveau arriviste Etihad and Chelski fans go on about what ‘we’ve’ suddenly achieved. They have barely contributed. It simply isn’t their achievement. 20 times is and was ours, paid for by United fans. No-one else matched us. They all had the same chances to get it right, to build gradually, but they didn’t. We did. That’s what is special about United.


    Failure to qualify for the Champions League will undoubtedly affect our ability to attract certain players. Fergie disguised the risks of Glazernomics. His leaving has highlighted how United have been run down whilst servicing the Glazers' debt mountain. Since 2005 we haven’t looked like signing some of the best players in the world.

    Etihad FC, fuelled by Sheikh Mansour's obscene, tainted wealth, have quickly spent £1billion, aiming to have two top players for each position. Chelski likewise. United were making do. Fergie declared the transfer market overpriced, technically correct, but suddenly United were looking for "value". Funny how Fergie changed approach after 2005. Veron for £28M and Ruud for £19m in 2001; Ferdinand for £30m in 2002 and Rooney for £20m are where United used to punch. There has been money to spend since 2005, but much less than there should have been. After this seasons Cup exits and defeat to Chelski, the club's transfer record was suddenly smashed on Juan Mata, plus the wage record for Rooney. Desperation, or revival? The jury is out.

    Even if United miss out on Champions League qualification, it seems United should be able to continue paying the bills. However, our owner’s debt creation remains at £389m, costing at least £20m a year. Without the Glazer’s debt United could have remained able to compete with most of the sugar daddy excesses.

    Fergie enabled the Glazers and the club to carry their debt and emerge intact. With his departure the underlying cancer of their ownership model risks being fully exposed. Following the racing analogy, our owners provide a hell of a handicap.

    Since surrendering my season ticket I’ve attended a few games, but I scarcely recognise what I am watching. I watched Newcastle and Everton win at OT – oh for the days of ‘Cheer up Alan Shearer’! I last attended the Fulham draw. Watched from NW3433, sitting next to two disgruntled K-standers who had been moved for the singing section experiment. An exhibition of slow, ponderous attacks with aimless cross after cross. The singing section was the main highlight, apart from me almost breaking a hand celebrating Carrick’s non-winner.

    The substantial rebuild

    Two central defenders are needed for Rio and Nemanja, plus a full back, or two. Whilst Jones, Evans and Smalling are all young and useful squad players, I don’t think any two of those are enough (if they ever stay fit) to sustain a serious title challenge, or a Champions League campaign, should either materialise. We need a new hard man, a potential leader and a new Rio.

    In midfield we all have known, including the dogs in the street, about what is needed for some time. It still is needed. At least two more top class central midfielders are required by next summer. An enforcer and a creator – a Keane and a Scholes. Not easy, but vital. As for the wingers, Januzaj apart, they could definitely be improved. No real pace; no end product; aimless crosses and very few goals.

    Up front, with RVP and Wayne, we should remain pretty strong. Danny and Chicarito are excellent back up, plus Mata if he gets back up to full speed.

    I had hoped Fergie had chosen the right jockey, but the steward’s enquiry is definitely out on that one now. Maybe the Special One, rather than the Chosen One, might have been a better runner. The decline at United from last year seems so sudden to maintain strong belief in Moyes as being the best ongoing trainer. He’s hardly an apprentice and it isn’t all his fault. The players are culpable, but Moyes own performance seems less capable of inspiring, as each unwanted record tumbles.

    The team still need our support during this transition, but it will take quite a turnaround before the 20 times chant needs changing. The bookies are seldom wrong, with the odds on Moyes becoming a champion jockey looking more remote as each match unfolds. In fact the odds on him departing as United’s jockey appear to be shortening fast. Should he really be trusted with the rebuild? I’m no longer sure he should.

    Pete Burton
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