When a club’s most successful manager has left after many years after a long and close relationship with a large group of players, it is always hard for the ‘new guy’ to succeed.
This proved to be the case for David Moyes, who was sacked only 11 months after taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester Unuted. Poor Brian Clough only had 44 days to weave his magic at Leeds United back in 1974 having replaced Don Revie, but they both came into remarkably similar situations.
They both inherited ageing sides that contained players that had played for years under the old boss and, so it seemed, wanted to be anywhere but on the pitch when under command from the new boss.
Both teams went from champions of England to also-rans within three months. Coincidence? Or a telling factor of Moyes’ and Clough’s contribution? Whether Man United’s squad - with all of their honours - didn’t respect and take the trophyless Moyes and his methods seriously only the players know.
Clough could have gone about his business better rather than reportedly suggesting that the Leeds players should throw away all of their medals because they had ‘‘never won any of them fairly.’’
It could be argued that the bad start the Whites had under Clough was down to the lack of respect they probably had for him as a person, but they didn’t do much better afterwards.A few top ten finishes were followed by relegation to the second tier in the 1981-82 season, which is where they would stay until 1990 before finally winning the top-flight league title again in 1992, 18 years after their last triumph.
Two experienced players - Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs - are both leaving Manchester United this summer, with the figure of Rio Ferdinand also set to move to pastures new.
Vidic may have joined a top club in Inter Milan and may well re-establish himself as a top centre half, but, despite some decent games for the Red Devils over the past three seasons, he has not been the same player as the one feared throughout Europe in his first few campaigns at the club.
Ferguson may have won the league by a staggering 11 points last season but all players reach their sell-by-date at some point and I think Moyes was unlucky in the sense that the likes of Vidic - a bastion of the great United side that won the title and Champions League in 2008 - hit his all-time low point at the same time as a few others.
Although Giggs has retired, he was arguably their best midfield player whenever he was on the pitch - just his age and stamina levels meant that he could not compete once or twice a week every week.
I doubt that the demise - or natural ending shall I say – of the great Leeds United team of the 1960s and 70s once Revie was gone was down to Clough and the way he went about things.
The likes of Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Johnny Giles would not have been so hurt and so affected by Clough that it contributed to their lack of form. They had reached their sell-by-date, it’s as simple as that.
And the same applied to much of the Man United side last season. The similarities between the two sides as they reached the end of an era with their long-term manager departing is an eye opener and one which United could learn from, even if the game is somewhat unrecognisable from the one people knew in the 70s.
Old Trafford will not see things as bad as what the Elland Road faithful suffered in the 80s, but like that Leeds side after Revie, the glory days under Ferguson will not be repeated.
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