After 26-years of unparalleled success under Sir Alex Ferguson, filling the great man's shoes is proving tougher than imagined for David Moyes at Manchester United.
Patience is the name of the game and here we look at five ways he can improve things at Old Trafford:
Win the Capital One Cup
Remember the League Cup (then known as the Carling Cup) of 2006. By that time, Manchester United had been surpassed by Arsene Wenger’s invincibles and Jose Mourinho’s majestic Chelsea side, built on the back of the Russian revolution at Stamford Bridge.
Sir Alex Ferguson and his club were written off by all and sundry. But winning the League Cup in 2006 was the opening salvo of the last of Ferguson’s great sides. It literally opened the floodgates for the likes of Ronaldo, Rooney and co. In the next three seasons, three consecutive league titles and two Champions League final appearances followed.
Sir Alex is right in saying that winning a trophy, even a low priority one like the Carling Cup, will make a world of difference to David Moyes.
Gamble, gamble and gamble
David Moyes has come in for a lot of criticism at Manchester United. A lot of it has been unfair. For one thing, the task facing him is of epic proportions. He needs time to find his feet. Sir Alex’s legendary stint at the club created healthy stability, but it also created an unhealthy dependency on one person.
However, Moyes rightly deserves to be criticised for the unnecessary caution he has displayed with his team selections and substitutions. Introducing Adnan Januzaj is the only gamble he has taken. Watching a United side chasing a game with all hands to the pump is one of the most exhilarating sights in the Premier League, but it’s been conspicuous by its absence this season.
The games against West Brom and Southampton provided the perfect stage for that. The shackles need to come off. There is nothing like a “throw the kitchen sink at ‘em” come-back win to boost morale.
‘Horses for courses’ for the Old Guard
The defensive old guard of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand need to be used judiciously. Ferdinand and Vidic maybe past their best, but they still have a lot to contribute to the club.
The experience they bring to the table is priceless, especially with young defenders like Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans in the squad. However, subjecting their battle-worn bodies to the red-hot intensity of a Manchester derby at the Etihad after playing them for two games in four days is probably not the right way to use their services.
Just using Vidic, Rio and the evergreen Ryan Giggs in the right way, for the right games and giving them adequate rest will make a huge difference to their performances.
Free Shinji, watch him fly or crash, but give him a chance
Borussia Dortmund’s manager, Jurgen Klopp was lamenting Shinji Kagawa’s bit part role at Manchester United last year. Klopp had previously said: "Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United - on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes. Central midfield is Shinji's best role. He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw."
Now, that perfectly sums up Shinji Kagawa’s time at Manchester United. It seems David Moyes simply does not fancy the nimble-footed Japanese playmaker. There is no reason not to try him in central midfield along-side Michael Carrick, especially in home games when the onus is on United to attack. Kagawa might be a bit light weight but he won’t do much worse than Marouane Fellaini, who is still finding his feet at the Theatre of Dreams and whose tackling seems to be fluffier than his hair at the moment.
Let’s face it, Fellaini got his behind handed to him by Wanyama and Schneiderlin at Old Trafford and Kagawa could not have done any worse. He might fail, but at least he deserves an opportunity. Playing Kagawa will provide some much needed penetration to United’s midfield. It will also give Fellaini some time to really settle at the club rather than having his confidence eroded game after game.
Ignore the pressure. Use the siege mentality
The mentality of ‘us against the world’ is a powerful motivator in sports. Everyone is writing off the manager. The critics are having a field day gloating over the situation of the club. All this provides an explosive cocktail of motivation to Manchester United football club.
So, if David Moyes is patient and holds his nerve, there will inevitably be a response. It might take time, but they like nothing more than proving the critics wrong at the Old Trafford.
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