In the aftermath of the publication of one of sport’s most revelatory and accusatory autobiographies, David Moyes will be under no illusions that his tenure as Manchester United manager could be set to unravel rather quickly were his team to fail again this evening.
In one sense, the fanfare and column inches Ferguson’s book launch has received was the ideal preparation for United’s incumbent manager. The imaginatively titled “My Autobiography” has given Moyes and his squad a day away from the spotlight and the media, who were virtually non-existent for Moyes’s press conference as they grouped en masse in London, ready for Ferguson at his accusatory best.
For a day or two at least Moyes’s current woes and the importance that tonight’s meeting with Real Sociedad carries have almost been cast into the shadows. Indeed, even the potentially explosive Wayne Rooney issue concerning whether did or didn’t “ask away”, as Ferguson put it, has been effectively brushed under the carpet by Moyes, who said that the striker is completely unaffected by the revelations. Even the press (whisper it quietly) have focused their attention elsewhere, leaving Moyes and his confidence-driven striker to get on with the job in hand.
However, there can be no doubting the pitfalls that a poor performance would bring Moyes. He may have avoided the scrutiny leading up to the game, but thanks to the storm caused by Ferguson yesterday the eyes of England will be on Old Trafford tonight in even greater numbers, all prepared to dish out an even greater examination of United than normal. Moyes will know that any short-comings tonight, in his team or in the result, will be blamed on United missing the ethereal ‘Fergie factor’.
This may be why tonight’s game can be looked upon as the most important match Moyes has had to face so far in his brief, but undoubtedly unsuccessful, tenure as United manager so far.
Ferguson has left behind a team whose path to the title last year merely shrouded over the key weaknesses that lie within it. If Moyes is truly to stake his claim as the next manager after the great Scot, however, this is a type of match that his team has to win.
Tonight, the focus and talk reverberating around Old Trafford will undoubtedly be of Ferguson and the revelations and accusations that have stung many within the footballing world.
A poor 90 minutes, however, and David Moyes can be assured that the talk will be very much back on him by this evening.
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