It’s a long time since Manchester United were such outsiders for the title in February, but this is the state they find themselves in as they languish in seventh place.
Now, they seem to be crumbling like never before, David Moyes has become a figure of fun and Nemanja Vidic has declared his intention to leave at the end of the season. At the risk of sounding like a doctor to a patient, it might have to get worse before it gets better. By the sounds of things, there will be a mass exodus at Old Trafford this summer, more worryingly, not all are under the power of Moyes.
Talk of seeing as many as 11 players leave, with Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Nani, Valencia, Ashely Young, Javier Hernandez, Rio Ferdinand all being spoken of as likely departures. It leaves Ed Woodward and David Moyes promising extravagant spending to fix a squad that was miraculous in its final title win under Alex Ferguson.
The reality of this is posed by Ferguson handing over a clearly weak squad, that people were left bemused by his managerial excellence to guide them to the title last season. So why don’t we see Moyes’ traumatic first season as manager as a mistake by Ferguson? It seems everyone accepts he left him with a weak squad, but even if that isn’t a reason you accept, Ferguson has picked a manager that many are saying is out of his depth, isn’t it time to look at Ferguson’s role in this?
It is fair enough of the United fans to not want to look at the clearest possible truth, as any club would defend a manager of the incredible things they have done for their club. They look an abject failure from the side they appeared under Alex Ferguson, needing significant investment in defence and midfield whilst their much-feared attack doesn’t even seem the same fearsome prospect it should do. A testament to Ferguson’s management, yes, but Moyes really shouldn’t be doing this badly at the moment, however much he wants to curse his luck.
The questions over the squad are known by all, considerable weaknesses across the defence and midfield that may take the investment of 4 or 5 top quality players, but Moyes’ demeanour isn’t one that seems to be inspiring anyone right now. When that is partnered with some of his more than bizarre tactical decisions, he seems awfully out of his depth at the moment, not to say he should lose his job.
The mantra of Manchester United not to sack managers is easy to go along with when you have one of the best like Ferguson, but how long can they give Moyes? With unwanted records being broken and share prices dropping adding to the embarrassment of failing to attract players, next season is the big one for him. As much as Woodward can insist that they can do without Champions League football, one year without may be okay, but a second year will definitely begin to see players wonder whether they want to play at Manchester United.
Moyes will undoubtedly be given a second season – and quite right too – but this summer window will be one of the biggest couple of months in the recent history of the football club. If there are not significant strengthening moves or further humiliating rejections, it might be the beginning of the end for an increasingly dejected-looking Moyes.
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