19th May 2013; the day every Manchester United fan hoped would never come. Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match at the helm was to be against West Brom at the Hawthorns, miraculously coinciding with his 1,500th game in charge of the club, a mind-blowing statistic by any stretch of the imagination. For many United fans, his reign was all they had known, and with this date came an almighty sense of uncertainty to the world of football. The question we all wanted answering: who could replace him?
David Moyes was to become the next Manchester United manager, a decision that ruffled a few feathers. Many felt that Jose Mourinho was the best option; others favoured Champions League finalist manager Jurgen Klopp. However, with strict recommendation from Fergie, the Everton boss got the nod and took charge officially on July 1st.
Moyes received a lot of praise during his time at Everton for moulding a top-5 side with such a small budget, and it was an exciting prospect to see what a manager who could operate on such small margins could do at a club with (seemingly) much more financial bulk.
However, with only 8 fixtures left in the domestic league, United lie in 7th position in the table, their worst positioning in the history of the 21-year-old Premier League. Following an early exit from the FA Cup to Swansea City and a defeat in an embarrassing semi-final penalty shootout in the Carling Cup to Sunderland, Moyes’ position looks far from safe. The only thing going for them at the minute is their quarter-final place against current champions Bayern Munich, a seemingly impossible task of qualification to the next round after their somewhat fortunate victory over Olympiacos.
Regardless of current form, I strongly believe Moyes deserves more time at the club to make it his own. Having already made a few purchases, namely Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata for £27million and £42million respectively, he needs to understand and appreciate where his players play best, and to tinker with formations to see what works. Not only do acquisitions need to be made, Moyes needs to wield the axe to much of the deadweight at the club, with an ageing Nemanja Vidic making way in the summer to Inter Milan and Rio Ferdinand looking set to jet off to the States. The midfield needs to be freshened also, with evergreen Giggs’ games surely numbered and some players simply not fit to wear the shirt. Sorry Tom.
Replacing a manager is never easy, let alone a manager of Sir Alex’s stature. Let it be known that Ferguson’s job was on the line going into the tie with Forest in the FA cup all those years ago, and who knows where we’d be now if they hadn’t have won that. For now, we need to stand by ‘The Chosen One’.