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Red News Q&A with journalists Danny Taylor, Mark Ogden and James Ducker

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  • Red News Q&A with journalists Danny Taylor, Mark Ogden and James Ducker

    This MUFC journos Q&A first appeared in May’s Red News 213. Don’t miss a single mag with a Print or Digital Red News subscription at subscribe at

    And we have a summer mag out next week too. Order it at or subscribe at

    Questions 1. Why has it all gone so badly wrong this season?

    2. Who do you apportion blame to?

    3. Will David Moyes get the time to turn it around, and can he turn it around?

    4. How have you found David Moyes to deal with?

    5. Gaze into your crystal balls again, what do you think will happen this summer at United?

    danny taylor. guardian

    1. First and foremost, David Moyes has failed, terribly. He was always the wrong choice for the job when Jose Mourinho had made it clear he was desperate for it. Yes, Mourinho can be a twerp sometimes. But so, frequently, could Fergie! Mourinho moans at refs, he pulls stunts etc etc. He has also won seven league titles in four different countries, the Champions League with two clubs, the Uefa Cup, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Spanish Cup, the Italian Cup, 20-odd recognised manager-of-the-year awards. Oh, and once went nine years without losing a home game. Old Trafford would have fucking loved him!

    2. Not just Moyes. Ferguson picked him. Seriously, in what other multi-million-pound industry would that happen? The players, on the whole, have been poor (I guess a big part of that is the management). But it mostly comes back to the manager. He started badly, deciding that Fellaini was better suited to United than Thiago Alcantara, and then all that guff about the Premier League fixing the fixtures to make it deliberately hard for him. And it's just gone on from there. I think he handled the Rooney situation well, bearing in mind the mess that Ferguson left him on that front. He's brought Januzaj through, too. But I can't think of much else. Sorry Barney - but United have gone from being the champions to a laughing stock. And his fingerprints are all over it.

    3. I don't know. Nobody does outside a very small inner circle and anyone who claims otherwise . . well, it's largely guesswork and supposition unless your surname is Glazer. All I can say is there was a definite sense going into the Olympiacos game that he was vulnerable. Some very people at the club who would always happily take a call had suddenly disappeared. Previously, they had been fully behind him, and happy to say so. So little things like that. It hasn't worked and, for that reason alone he has to be vulnerable. He just has to be. Can he turn it around? I don't believe he can, no. What evidence is there to suggest he can?

    4. Pretty hopeless. Listen, this sounds like I'm ganging up on him. I'm not, genuinely. I've always said you can respect and admire someone for their work, and still think they were the wrong man for the job. But I'm not going to sugarcoat it. He's been deeply unimpressive. First of all, the stuff he's come out with – it's sounded weak, often contradictory, jumbled. There is rarely any spirit behind it. The message is all “hopefully” and “we'll try.” There's media training and MUFC-media training – the two are very different – and he needs some of the latter, if it's not too late.
    What he also doesn't get is that he's actually been given a relatively easy ride. Can you imagine the press Manuel Pellegrini would have got if City were seventh and raising the white flag every time they played anyone half-decent? But he's quickly developed a grudge against the regular Manchester writers and the awkward truth is he can't pull it off, in the way Fergie could. His press conferences last about five minutes. It's often tense and pretty joyless and I've rarely seen anything so unimpressive as the day Ian Ladyman asked him a very innocuous question about injuries and Moyes pretended he hadn't heard and walked out (people call Brendan Rodgers 'Brenton' but this topped the lot, seriously). He's missed a trick because, post-Fergie, this was a great opportunity for a MUFC manager to get in with the press and develop a good relationship. After the last man, that should have been a very straightforward process.

    It's been difficult because, clearly, every journalist had to criticise him. All the same, Moyes has been a big disappointment media-wise. The chief football writers for lunch/dinner etc but he and his press office have ignored the request. The Football Writers' Association put on a lunch earlier this month for the north-west managers and Moyes just stayed in his seat, like a zombie, and didn't interact with anyone not sitting on the top table (i.e the other managers). Rodgers etc came round the tables, as did Moyes when he was Everton manager. OK, not the most important things in the world but my point is: from his side, these are professional mistakes. Fergie, don't forget, made it absolutely his business to get the press on-side when he came down from Scotland - i.e he knew it could work both ways.

    He also treats MUTV like they are another enemy, which is just bizarre.

    5. I think United will spend a lot of money and sign quite a few players. The last information I had was that the club had a couple of players already lined up and that none of the targets had expressed any reluctance to join because of the Europa League factor. Will Moyes be here? I'm writing this directly after the Everton defeat and I don't think he could have any great complaints if he was moved out. It hasn't worked, and everyone knows it. However, I also know how absolutely determined United are not to go by the same rules as every other club. In one way, it's an impressive stance. But this is 2014, not 1986, and managers at this level don't get seven years to win the league.

    It's been a horror show.

    This MUFC journos Q&A first appeared in May’s Red News 213. Don’t miss a single mag with a Print or Digital Red News subscription at subscribe at

    And we have a summer mag out next week too. Order it at or subscribe at

    james ducker. times

    1. Where to start? Moyes immediately put himself on the back foot by making such a pig's ear of things in the transfer market last summer. No top manager would have allowed that summer to pass without three or four quality recruits coming in. If you believe a series of very senior figures at Old Trafford, a deal to sign Thiago Alcantara was in place and Moyes just needed to push the green light - but opted not to. Then there was the warped insistence that he wouldn't pay more than £12 million for Leighton Baines, a stance borne of his belief that Everton had a grave financial imperative to sell. If United had got Thiago and Baines in early on, it would have alleviated a lot of the pressure and left the club well placed to then get another couple in. The more time that went by, the more panicked they became.

    The delay between finally abandoning the pursuit of Cesc Fabregas and making bids for Daniele De Rossi and Ander Herrera etc was also inexplicable. All this talk about inheriting a poor squad is ludicrous - yes, it required strengthening in key areas but Moyes had the opportunity to do that last summer, and in January, and blew it. All that said, would it have been very different had Moyes got the players in that he wanted? To judge by the tired, rigid, predictable formations, the negative, one dimensional tactics, the strange substitutions, the poor squad management, the dressing room discontent, the ineffective back room staff, I'm not in the slightest bit convinced it would.

    Yes, too many players have been poor, yes some need replacing but there's a reason they're not playing for this manager and let's not forget this team were champions 10 months ago. A drop to third or even fourth would have been understandable to a degree. The extent of the decline has been excruciating to witness, though.

    2. Moyes is by far and away the most culpable, for many of the reasons outlined above, but United would probably not be in this position now had they not entrusted the recruitment of a new manager to their previous one. The criticism of Ferguson has been overstated in my opinion. Yes, he was a control freak and power hungry but given the opportunity to appoint a successor, I'm certain very few would have turned down that chance. The blame on that front rests solely with the Glazer family. Listening to Ferguson's representations would have been one thing, effectively giving him carte blanche to pick the new one defied common business logic.

    3. Writing in the wake of the 2-0 defeat away to Everton, I think he'll be very lucky to get a second season as things stand currently. From the club's perspective, I think they risk setting the club back several years should they opt to stick with the manager. The Glazers are many things but primarily they are pragmatic, ruthless businessmen who are driven by the bottom line and not be sentiment. Why would he be equipped to turn things around when he has managed to turn the champions into a seventh placed team in the space of ten months?

    4. It's actually quite sad to see a decent man sinking like this. He's an unusual character in some regards - numerous people who have worked with him tell me he's introverted on the one hand, aggressive on the other and that's a strange combination. He's always given me the impression of being deeply uncomfortable in the role, and results, tactics, squad management, transfer issues and a host of other issues aside, few things have projected that image quite like his language. His words smack of a man struggling to grasp the big club mentality. I've winced my way through so many press conferences I've lost count now. In short, it's not a good fit - like someone wearing a jacket that's three sizes too big.

    5. There's a question. If Moyes stays - a big if admittedly - all this talk that lots of top players want to join United will face a severe examination. He cannot afford a repeat of last summer's debacle, when his indecision and United's delayed approach cost them dear.
    Signing five or six world class players in a single summer is tough at the best of times, trying to do so in a World Cup summer with no Champions League football to offer, a manager on shaky ground at the helm and with rival clubs knowing United are desperate and ready to ramp up the prices as a result sounds like a recipe for trouble. You look at the Everton team who lined up against United at Goodison Park and it's clear Moyes has an eye for talent but he's been shopping at a very different level before.

    The £65 million spent on Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata so far does not inspire confidence. If he loses Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra in addition to Nemanja Vidic, he'll have to spend £80 million to £100 million addressing the defence before you even get to the midfield and attack. That's a terrifying thought. There are a lot of other players who want out but it's unrealistic to think 10 to 12 will depart. If Moyes remains in place, he'll have the added headache of trying to win back round those disaffected players who he doesn't want and who don't buy into his methods. A new manager would face his own issues but I think it would give the whole club a huge lift and if the board went for someone like Jurgen Klopp there would be a good chance of him being able to get one or two players to follow him from Borussia Dortmund, such as Marco Reus.

    This MUFC journos Q&A first appeared in May’s Red News 213. Don’t miss a single mag with a Print or Digital Red News subscription at subscribe at

    And we have a summer mag out next week too. Order it at or subscribe at

    mark ogden. telegraph

    1. There are 101 reasons, probably more, but not one particular moment where it all went wrong.
    But I do think much can be traced back to last summer, when David Moyes saw out the remainder of his Everton contract, delaying his start date at United until July 1.

    Madness, absolute madness. He basically wasted six weeks in order to do the right thing by Everton, but those six weeks would have been crucial in terms of preparation.

    He then cleared out the coaches and brought in his own from Everton and spent the summer, autumn and winter attempting to adjust to the size of the club and its demands.

    There was too much upheaval, too many new faces lacking the credentials to work at a club of United’s stature and the players inevitably had their doubts from an early stage - doubts which have grown rather than diminished.

    2. It has been a collective failure, with the Glazers, Ferguson, Woodward and Moyes all culpable to varying degrees.

    The Glazers for their prolonged lack of investment in the team and Ferguson for allowing that to happen and not pushing for better signings throughout that time.

    Woodward spent too long chasing Ronaldo and Bale last summer, while Moyes should have drawn a halt to that earlier and pushed for reinforcements much sooner than he did.

    Moyes has now had two transfer windows to sign players and has made one disastrous buy in Fellaini and added the luxury signing of Mata. Mata will add something to United, but with Kagawa, Rooney and Januzaj capable of playing his role, I’m not convinced that the money would not have been better spent elsewhere.

    But in terms of the team’s performances and results, Moyes takes ninety per cent of the blame, with the players taking the other ten per cent because some of them have dropped off remarkably.

    3. As it stands right now, mid-April, my gut instinct is that a new manager will be in charge at the start of next season. In the cold light of day, when this season is assessed, I don’t know how any manager could survive a finish of sixth or seventh.

    But I also have my doubts as to whether Moyes can turn it around. Too many players doubt his methods and the vast majority of supporters dislike his style of football and that is a pretty lethal combination.

    I haven’t seen one game or performance this season which suggests that improvements are being made and that the Moyes philosophy will restore United to where they want to be.

    4. He is a decent bloke, a man of integrity and, in comparison to his predecessor, extremely honest.
    That honesty has got him into trouble once or twice, such as when he declared Liverpool to be favourites at Old Trafford (blindingly obvious, but the wrong thing to say) or when he spoke of the squad being an ageing squad - not something that would get the players onside!

    He went into the job of dealing with us guys with the right intentions, but obviously things have gone a bit awry with bad results and critical coverage.

    I dealt with him at Preston and Everton and the one difference I see now is that he has not been able to establish the power and control over the media that he had at both clubs. Had he had the coverage at those clubs that he has had at United, he would have ripped into the reporters responsible, but results have made it impossible for him to be as forceful at Old Trafford.

    5. Big money will be spent and good players will arrive. There will be the usual saga of a superstar fluttering his eyelashes before heading somewhere else and there may even be a couple of new tyre partners added to the portfolio.

    But United will punch their weight, in the market and commercially, and it should be the most active summer for a long time.

    God knows who the manager will be, though. I just think too much has gone wrong for Moyes to survive.

    This MUFC journos Q&A first appeared in May’s Red News 213. Don’t miss a single mag with a Print or Digital Red News subscription at subscribe at

    And we have a summer mag out next week too. Order it at or subscribe at
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