David Moyes is destroying Manchester United

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Looking at all the men who have managed a team in the Premier League this season, surely nobody has done a worse job than David Moyes.

People keep pointing to Sir Alex Ferguson needing more than three years to win a trophy and six to win a title, but the team he inherited was at the wrong end of the table and had not won the league in 26 years.

The club Moyes took over had won 39 trophies in the previous 26 years but he is rapidly returning them to prolonged mediocrity.

I have supported United for 57 years and, like many faithful fans, had been prepared to be patient; until my Maltese holiday was ruined in an empty bar watching the worst United Champions League performance ever.

It was embarrassing, but much more than that it was deeply depressing and even distressing on so many levels.

United played with no obvious ambition and, from the moment the team was announced, it was clear to everyone that Moyes had set out not to lose and this against arguably the poorest team in the last 16.

The team that lamely surrendered to a poor Olympiakos side who were there for the taking looked lost, confused and utterly lacking any creativity, flair or ambition.

It was then that I realised Moyes has destroyed my team and, if he is allowed to continue much longer, could destroy the club as well.

After 42 games this team is unrecognisable from pretty much the same players who won the Premier League at a canter and should have rolled over Real Madrid in the Champions League last season, but for a disgraceful refereeing decision.

Sir Alex Ferguson may have anointed David Moyes and reiterated his support from the embattled manager in the last few days; but surely it is only his public support that is keeping the ex-Evertonian in the job.

How on earth did all this happen?

Sadly we must start with the Old Trafford hierarchy.

The owners must be given some credit for the unqualified support they have given Sir Alex since they took over the club. But the problems started when David Gill and Ferguson were both allowed to leave at the same time.

They were then compounded not just by accepting the latter's recommendation to appoint Moyes, but also then by not insisting that he join the club earlier.

By July 1, United should have done their best business in the transfer market but instead the season was underway before Moyes had been able to assess his squad.

In the same period, however, he and new Chief Executive Woodward had managed to turn United into a laughing stock in the transfer market.

Nevertheless, despite a failure to sign players that was almost as abject as United's performance in Athens last week, Moyes had surely shown enough during his 11 years at Everton to make something of a moderate squad?

United should have paid up the rump of Moyes' contract (which only had a couple of months to run anyhow), so that he could join as soon as the season ended.

Motivating a modest squad to last season's title may have been one of Sir Alex's greatest achievements given a squad widely assessed as one of United's worst in years. But surely the ability to motivate a team was just one of the reasons why Moyes was appointed?

Lack of motivation

In an effort to deflect attention from Moyes ineptitude, the media and others have criticised the players. From early in the season Moyes himself was pointing to the fact that this squad was pretty much the same that had won the League at a trot.

That is a dangerous double-edged sword.

The players themselves have decently and individually from time to time said that they should take responsibility but the bald fact is that Moyes has hardly at all been able to motivate them.

People keep talking about United "going on a run" to turn their season round; Moyes is merely wanting to "win the next match".

The harsh truth is that there is simply no chance of United finishing in the top four and, unless they can pull off a miracle in the second leg against Olympiakos, their season is over.

And despite unrealistic hopes that the players may then play with little fear and show their true colours there must surely be a greater risk that they simply collapse into a black hole and don't even reach the Europa League.

The harsh truth is that Moyes looks woefully out of his depth. There have been some suggestions of dressing room unrest, which would not be surprising and it may take until the likes of Vidic, Evra and maybe even Van Persie leave before the truth finally emerges.

Moyes has never won a thing in his managerial career, except a Community Shield against a relegated Wigan Athletic. So should we be surprised?

He deserves all the credit going for keeping Everton in the upper echelons of the Premier League but he is not a Manchester United manager.

And when you consider that United could have had the pick of the world's best, including a distraught Jose Mourinho when he wasn't "the chosen one", but who is driving Chelsea to the title yet again.

But he was not the right appointment, not only because he courts controversy but mainly because he plays 'pragmatic' football.

Wrong tactics

Frankly, United supporters would even take pragmatic football if we were in the top four right now, but what Moyes has produced is worse than that.

So here is a clear message Mr Moyes if you are reading this:

Manchester United don't play defensive football!

The great Real Madrid, Hungarian and Brazilian sides started it; Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly adopted it; Sir Alex continued it: attack, attack, attack...

"If we score more goals than you, we win."

But against Olympiakos United set up defensively, not to lose. And that alone is reason to sack David Moyes, because it's not the first time.

The great Liverpool teams of the 70s and 80s had a simple philosophy; they set out to impose their own game plan on the opposition. That's what Sir Alex did time after time.

Of course, like his predecessor, Moyes was right to do his homework on the Greek opposition, but the United players looked gripped by 'paralysis by analysis' from the start of the match. Had Moyes put the fear of God into them if they lost?

And yet one of the traits that appeared evident from Moyes' time at Everton was his ability to organise a defence. He has simply failed to do that at United, who have conceded a bucket-load of sloppy goals.

Worse still United have conceded the first goal 14 times this season and won only two of those matches.

Maybe the players deserve some of the blame and maybe United haven't had a lot of luck, but the truth is they are neither scoring enough nor keeping clean sheets.

Team selection

It wasn't just the tactics that were wrong against Olympiakos; the team selection was utterly and completely wrong.

Moyes said "blame me". You bet he was to blame.

Maybe he thought that the team he put out should have been collectively experienced enough in Europe to get a result, but they started and finished like 'rabbits in the headlights'.

Some may say that United had played well enough in the Group stages, but you could also say that they were able to play without fear then and still qualify.

Last Tuesday the opposition was there for the taking. Obviously Mata could not play, but where was Januzaj? Not even on the bench; and Fellaini who, on the strength of a much better performance against Palace, would surely have put the fear of God into the Greeks.

And surely United's tried and trusted midfield duo of Carrick and Fletcher was the way forward, not 'water carrier' Tom Cleverley?

One of the reasons Moyes was appointed was because he gave youth a chance at Everton. With scant signings and Mata cup-tied, surely this was the season to blood more of 'the kids'?

Needing to win almost every match to qualify for the Champions League after the poor Stoke City result, it beggars belief that Januzaj, the brightest hope in a dull season, has not started any of the last four matches and was completely omitted in Athens.

And while Wilfried Zaha still needs maturity and better defensive qualities, surely he and the desperately unlucky Jesse Lingard (who, together with Januzaj were the best players on the summer tour) couldn't do worse than Young, Valencia and Cleverley?

Time for Moyes to go

It is admirable that the Board of Manchester United will sanction a massive spending spree this summer, but it is surely now clear beyond doubt that David Moyes and his coaching team are way out of their depth at Old Trafford?

The players looked mentally and physically drained even before they started the Olympiakos match. Have they been over-trained by Jimmy Lumsden? 

And what does Steve Round actually do, if Moyes leads the coaching? In-depth analysis of the opposition that bewilders the players who should be playing with United's traditional flair and freedom?

It is beyond doubt that Moyes was wrong to go against the advice of Ferguson and bring in his entire coaching team. Rene Meulenstein may not be a football manager, but he gets much credit for United's success since he joined in 2000.

After the Greek tragedy there was only one possible course of action that made any sense and that was to put Moyes out of his misery.

Why? It is not just the appalling collapse in performance and success. United are unrecognisable from the team that romped to the title last season and yet the squad is almost the same.

The team and the tactics last Tuesday summed up exactly why Moyes was the wrong appointment.

He may say "blame me"; he may plead "we will get it right"; but he also clearly has no idea what is wrong and what to do about it.

He has not 'given youth its chance' because he is playing with fear and has been trapped into trying to rely on his senior players to pull him out of the mire. If he signs "five or six" players this summer, bright prospects like Lingard, Powell, Zaha, Vilas, Janko, Vermijl, Perreira, Keane, Barmby and Wilson may never get their chance.

Can United afford another Pogba-style disaster? And yet Januzaj has shown in spades that fearless youngsters might have turned things round.

But when he sends a team packed with proven mediocrity and 'time-servers' out 'not to lose', while talent like Kagawa and Januzaj can't get a look in, you know it is time for him to go.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex has left himself in a dangerous 'no-win' situation. He has once again defended Moyes. If the latter succeeds, all well and good, but the signs are that he won't and United are merely deferring the inevitable in defence of loyalty.

But if, in a few weeks time, they have lost to Liverpool, Olympiakos and City and seem unlikely to reach even seventh position, it will already have been too late to do what most supporters now see as inevitable.

If David Moyes has managed to drive a title winning squad into medocrity, why on earth entrust him with a £100 million transfer budget?

Is Sir Alex being brave or short-sighted by backing Moyes? We have revered him for more than 20 years. He is the greatest manager ever, but dare he be tarnished by the appallingly short-sighted appointment of his successor?

The truly brave thing to do would be to quietly suggest to Moyes that he should resign; step into the breach for the remainder of the season; and try to resurrect some pride until a new manager can be appointed who can attract great players and make United great once again.

Because if he doesn't, the money men will surely step in and make the decision for him at the end of the season, hopefully appointing the 'dream ticket' of Van Gaal and De Boer, if rumours are to be believed.

And if all this sounds like the benefit of hindsight, more than a year ago I forecast in writing that last season would be Sir Alex's swansong and that United should have appointed either Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp as his successor.

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