Despite having a gigantic list of accolades, Sir Alex Ferguson was by no means the greatest tactician, nor was he one to play the most attractive style of football as say, a Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola.
But for all that he lacked in those areas, he more than made up for with the authority he gained through being a no-nonsense manager.
His successor, David Moyes, does not possess that authority.
United seem to be at sixes and sevens whenever they set foot on the pitch this season. As a result they are currently in sixth place, 11 points off the final Champions League spot, despite this being pretty much the same squad that lifted the same lifted the Premier League trophy a year ago.
The only key difference is the leadership, and the new leadership, though players don’t seem to hold the same level of respect as they did for their old boss.
Rio Ferdinand, who has plenty of experience in dealing with the media, once openly questioned his manager’s selection process on BT Sport by saying: "This manager's a bit different in that he doesn't name the team beforehand. You don't really get to know the team. The old manager used to give you a little bit of an idea if you'd be playing and stuff."
That is arguably because he has let the egos run wild during his reign. Case in point when Manchester United lost 2-0 to Olympiakos in the first leg of the Champions League.
The team put in a woeful showing, probably the worst of the season - yes, it was that bad - and Michael Carrick was the player provided for the post-game interview with ITV, in what can best be described as a “safe” move from a PR standpoint – much to Roy Keane’s disgust. Robin van Persie, on the other hand, was more liberal with his thoughts.
The striker was evidently angry after the game and vented his frustration to a Dutch TV station, criticising his teammates and essentially blamed them for his poor performance.
“Our fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in,” said the Dutchman. “When I see that, it makes it difficult for me to come to those spaces as well. So that forces me to adjust my runs, based on the position of my fellow players. And, unfortunately, they are often playing in my zones. I think that's a shame.”
The amazing thing is Van Persie won’t face any repercussions for his outburst, with Moyes opting to just sweep it under the rug instead. Perhaps out of fear of further exasperating his already disgruntled star?
No matter the reasoning it certainly won’t go down well with the rest of the squad because it suggests that certain players are above reproach and won’t be held accountable for their actions. Ultimately ending Moyes will losing the respect and authority within the squad.
His predecessor was of the usually of the view that no one player is above the team – David Beckham (Exhibit A), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Exhibit B) and Roy Keane (Exhibit C). That’s the rule with most of the most managers at the top level. Granted there are some exceptions to the rule (a la Cristiano Ronaldo), but the point still remains.
David Moyes had that sort of hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach while at Everton and it brought him success. But since moving to Old Trafford, he seems to have crawled back into a shell, seemingly overwhelmed by the characters and Egos at a club of Manchester United’s status.
The optimist in me would like to believe that David Moyes can right the ship, after all Fergie did it back in the day, but he has to do something before he goes past the point of no return – if he hasn’t already that is. Starting with stamping his authority on the team.
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