Despite the phenomenal success of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United over his 26 year tenure, perhaps the one ‘blot’ on his otherwise gleaming list of trophies and titles is the disappointing return of two Champions League titles in two-and-a-half decades.
The figure was used as ammunition for Florentino Perez, the former Real Madrid President, to criticise Ferguson’s record.
David Moyes, as the new Manchester United manager, will surely be hoping to at least emulate Ferguson’s two European titles, if not better them.
However, Moyes’ record in European competition is limited for someone who has just been appointed manager of one of Europe’s supposed heavyweights.
Undoubtedly, the main reason for this lack of experience is that for the past 11 years, Moyes has been plying his trade at one of the most cash-strapped clubs in the Premier League.
The only transfer funds that Moyes was able to work with at Everton were those that resulted from the sales of the club’s top players.
As a result, the task of developing a strong squad with enough depth in talent to cope with the rigours of top four football proved very difficult.
Consequently, Moyes only managed one top four finish in his decade at Everton, in the 2004/5 season.
The club’s brief sojourn in the Champions League lasted only as far as the qualifying rounds that all teams that finish fourth in the Premier League must play. In short, they failed to make it to the group stage of Europe’s premier competition.
A number of fifth and sixth placed finishes in the Premier League saw Moyes take Everton into the Europa League.
Europe’s ‘other’ football competition has been much maligned over the years, its participants often lack the ambition to go far in the tournament and fans and pundits take much less of an interest.
Everton went on an impressive run to the round of 16 in 2007/08, only to be eliminated by Fiorentina in a penalty shootout.
However, Moyes was unable to repeat this relative success in the seasons to come; Everton only qualified for the Europa League twice more before Moyes moved to Old Trafford, their best run was to the round of 32 in the 2009/10 season.
Moyes’ dearth of experience in European competition may perhaps prove to be a stumbling block as he seeks to emulate United’s s Premier League triumph in the season to come.
The ability to juggle success between the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League has proven to be incredibly difficult.
Undoubtedly, there will be a huge amount of expectation on Moyes to deliver in all of these competitions.
United last won the FA Cup in 2004 and Moyes will be judged on where Ferguson has failed to be particularly successful.
Indeed, due to Moyes’ lack of European experience, the world will be watching when United embark on their Champions League campaign.
Another crucial element to success in Europe and at home is the maintenance of a fit and strong squad.
If key players become injured, then Moyes will really be tested. His aptitude in the transfer market will be key for United to maintain a dual or even triple title challenge.
Despite the trepidation from some quarters, Moyes has been well chosen as the new Manchester United manager.
He led Everton to league positions that many thought were beyond them. He also coped with a virtually non-existent transfer budget.
With circumstances in his new job being much improved in terms of finance and playing staff, there is no reason why Moyes cannot be successful as manager of Manchester United.
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