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Sacking Moyes the right decision?

As the news of David Moyes’s sacking reverberates around the football community, there will be more than a few Manchester United fans around the world licking their collective lips and wondering why it has taken so long for the Glazers to fire the ‘Chosen One’ (a moniker that had become synonymous with the Scot after it was revealed that he had been hand picked by Alex Ferguson) after what could only be described as a disastrous season.

As a United fan myself, the news came as a bit of shock and perhaps slightly anticlimactic if I wanted to be pedantic.

Moyes as I had indicated to a friend a little over a month ago needed to have been let go earlier, especially after losses to Manchester City and Liverpool.

To be clear, it wasn’t just the losses that ticked me over but the manner in which United surrendered.

It was the kind of surrender that could hardly camouflage a lack of an ostensible plan from the manager and his backroom staff and, more pertinently, it was the kind of capitulation that exposed an annoying lack guile and mystique that were almost hackneyed in the days of Fergie.

There were times when United just reminded me of a former sprint king who could now be found stocking shelves in a Spaza.

But the owners chose to let him stay, thereby maintaining a club tradition of stoically keeping faith with their managers even when it looked like the titanic was heading towards an impervious glacier.

To a large extent I could understand their cautious approach, especially as there were several mitigating factors they could call upon to substantiate why Moyes should be given time to get his bearings.

He had after all been hand picked by the legend himself whose early history in the United annals somewhat mirrored his successor’s.

If that wasn’t good enough, then they could point to perennial rivals down the M14 who, after decades of ruling English football, traversed several managers before they eventually found a Northern Irishman who is now spearheading their revival.

Even that manager as it were, was given at least a year to put his house in order before he found the right mix of players.

While those reasons on face value might have been sufficient for the less discerning of United supporters around the globe, it does unfortunately come across as conflating history with the present realities on the ground for the more pragmatically minded who would have been quick to remind the owners that Fergie was bequeathed a team in the doldrums of obscurity and tethering towards mediocrity when he began the arduous process of rebuilding that eventually paid off after a trophy-less three-year wait.

And while it is true that Liverpool struggled to keep up after the Shankly and Paisley dynasty, they eventually found a man whose commitment to a style of play was clearly evident even at the nascent stages of his tenure. Moyes simply did not have that!

He had taken over a team that only the previous season opened an unassailable 11-point gap between them and their nearest rivals – a lead that they were to maintain till the end of the season.

Yes, the arguments will rage on as to how good that United side was or how poor the rest of the league was but still, Moyes was not inheriting a ragtag, browbeaten and pitiful squad clinging on to the vestiges of their former glories.

These were internationals that were perennial winners under Fergie and were still primed to do a decent job of retaining their title.

Moyes unfortunately could not make a soufflé out of fine dough and the result was a team that suddenly lost not only its confidence and adventure but that endemic refusal to countenance defeat that characterised the Fergie years.

The United we had all come to know and love over the years had now become a cowering giant that is too quick to retreat into its shell.

He relied too heavily on the old guard, introduced young and energetic players too fleetingly and never quite nailed down a specific pattern that was recognisable even if it wasn’t with the swagger fans had become accustomed to seeing.

There was absolutely little or no continuity in personnel and you just couldn’t get rid of the feeling that he was experimenting constantly. He simply had no clue regarding the players that constituted his first team.

Some day perhaps, when the storm of his dismissal would have dissipated, Moyes will allude to the fact that he did not exactly have an Indian summer with respect to bringing players in to strengthen the side, and that players he needed to rely on were constantly injured or that the buzzards circled too early but the truth is that as competent as he was as a manager at Everton, Manchester United was perhaps a bridge too far for him at this point in his career.

I must add that despite all the negative approach he brought to the United team, it would be unfortunate not to recognise his redeeming quality of always being a gentleman at press conferences even with the dark clouds hovering over him.

Unfortunately, his dismissal has now added to part of the pantomime that is football.

As for United, the search for a new manager starts in earnest (If it hadn’t already) and I suspect that the club is now approaching a phase in their history where managers might begin to look at the job of managing the team as a potential poisoned chalice.

Already Borrusia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp has expressed his disinterest in the position and Louis Van Gaal, who now looks like the odds on favourite, has World Cup commitments that could encumber transfer plans in the off-season.

Can United contemplate a repeat of this season’s transfer fiasco?

Whoever they bring on will have his work cut out and one can only hope that the new manager has enough about him to stop the current decline from becoming terminal.

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