Moyes’ gaffe-prone Euro trash

David Moyes

David Moyes has a problem; one that stems, it seems, not from the raft of changes in Manchester United’s coaching staff this summer. Nor the painfully embarrassing approach to the transfer market. And certainly not one born of the Scot’s tactics, no matter how jumbled the defensive mess fans have witnessed in recent weeks. No, Moyes has a problem with speaking. Particularly words. In English. And especially the kind that draw not the quizzical eyebrow to which the Scot is becoming depressingly familiar.

Indeed, it is a problem that Moyes has brought to light in the past week, twice raising the real challenge that the former Everton manager believes he faces in his first season as United manager: the quality of his team. Or lack thereof.

From the assertion that his side is six players short of winning the Champions League, to the contention that United won the Premier League by fault of others’ weakness, to an oft repeated belief that United must buy to compete; it’s the Scot’s penchant for motivational speaking, Rant suspects, that won Moyes the United gig in the first place.

“To win the Champions League, you need five or six world-class players,” Moyes said ahead of United’s trip to Shaktar Donetsk this week.

”Look at Bayern Munich, they have it. Look at Barcelona, who had it in the past and Real Madrid, who have maybe got it now. That’s the level you have to be at to win it. We’ve not got that yet.”

This week has delivered a double-dose of foot in mouth disease from the Scot. It was not, said Moyes last Wednesday, United’s quality that won the Old Trafford club a 20th league title last season, but “other teams that were poor.”

Way to throw cold water on supporters’ ongoing celebrations. Still, it must come as little surprise to the Scot that his players have looked so listless in recent weeks. He seems keen to let the world know just how bad they are.

Successive Premier League defeats have come. First to Manchester City at the Etihad, followed in abject style by Saturday’s loss to West Bromwich Albion at home. Moyes is yet to comment on which caused more humiliation.

That double-header made it three league defeats in the past four, with no goals scored from open-play since United’s victory at Swansea City on the opening day of the season. And if United’s attacking play has been dysfunctional, then the back four, as one, is seemingly one pint short of the full pub team.

The campaign for change on the pitch, if not the managerial hotseat, cannot be far away.

Still, the surprise is not in Moyes’ analysis, but that it has been made public at all. After all, City’s degeneration under Roberto Mancini put-paid to the former champions’ hopes last season. Meanwhile, Roman Abramovich’s rapid-fire dismissal of nine coaches in as many years ensures instability reigns in west London.

Neither do many, but the most one-eyed supporters, believe United will take the Champions League this season – not given the disparity in quality between the Reds and the best. Especially in midfield. It is, after all, debatable whether any of United’s central midfield would make Bayern Munich’s bench, let alone the first team

But this is a debate for the terraces and a post-match pint, rather than the manager and the fourth estate. Not least because it ensures Moyes sounds just a little too Benitez-esque for comfort.

Still, if a change in personnel is to come – and how could it not after three defeats in seven Premier League games – those players on the fringes of Moyes’ team, who brought respite against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup last Wednesday, need fear not. For the manager’s guns are squarely aimed at those who more frequently adorn the starting XI.

“We’ve got work to do,” said the 50-year-old. Work to acquire players that “will go right into the team.”

“The job when I took over was always going to be that we’d have to make changes and improve as we go along. I wasn’t going to come in here and say ‘such and such isn’t good’, not at all. But, in time, obviously I’ll have to make some changes.”

Cynics might wonder whether it is 25 years of unprecedented success that Moyes changed first. Rant couldn’t possibly comment, although it is hard not to take a cynical view after back-to-back league defeats of such calamity.

Four goals conceded at the Etihad on Sunday last proved humiliating in both execution and meaning, but it is the weekend’s defeat to West Brom that will cause most concern at Old Trafford. After all it wasn’t complacency, or a rare off-day that caused United’s downfall, but a tactical and technical mess all of Moyes’ own making.

The Scot can do little but issue the now frequented mea culpa.

“I don’t think it was only one department where you’d say we were lacking,” the Scot admitted post Saturday’s match.

“I think it would be unfair to single any out – it was the whole thing. We were lacklustre in nearly all the areas. There were lots of things that disappointed me. We should be scoring more from open play. And we should be defending better. We couldn’t do it at either end.”

How how the tables have turned. It’s not four weeks since the former Everton manager declared that he was “really impressed” with how his team played in the utterly miserable 1-0 defeat at Anfield. A performance so good that Moyes could now “see why they’re champions.”

United managed just four shots on target at Anfield. Reality, it seems, has now struck home hard.

“I may have to take a few more blows, definitely,” admitted the Scot. “Maybe even more than that. Maybe all season I have to take a few blows.”

Respite comes in the form of European competition, with United jetting out to Ukraine on Tuesday morning. It is, of course, the competition in which the Reds scored four against Bayer Leverkusen last time out.

Shaktar, you have been warned. Just don’t be disappointed when United fail to turn up with a raft of world-class players. Dave wouldn’t simply have it.

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  • Violent Banan

    Sense at last. We’re all aware of United’s shortcomings, especially in midfield, but for FFS, we RANAWAY with the league last season. Our players are champions, and used to winning, which is more than can be said for our new manager and (most of) his coaches.

    Moyes is making us sound way way worse than we actually are and it fucks me right off. Fergie never slated his players so publicly, how the players must feel to hear their manager slate them so publicly is beyond me.

    Look we all understand it’s a tough job and a massive ask for him. But he’s making such fundamental errors when speaking to the press you’ve really got to wonder what on earth he’s playing at…

  • Violent Banana

    Finally sense at last. We’re all aware of United’s shortcomings, especially in midfield, but for FFS, we RANAWAY with the league last season. Our players are champions, and used to winning, which is more than can be said for our new manager and (most of) his coaches.

    Moyes is making us sound way way worse than we actually are and it fucks me right off. Fergie never slated his players so publicly, how the players must feel to hear their manager slate them so publicly is beyond me.

    Look we all understand it’s a tough job and a massive ask for him. But he’s making such fundamental errors when speaking to the press you’ve really got to wonder what on earth he’s playing at…

  • https://www.facebook.com/AlucardMorgurth Jean Paul Sosa Cifuentes

    This is a great post and it makes more difficult to be behind “The boss” after all those Moyes’s terrible and disappointing quotes. SAF wasn’t perfect but at least he was always able to protect his players and their pride.

    Cheers from Colombia.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ronnie.quigley.7 Ronnie Quigley

    great read and so true.

  • JA

    Moyes is totally out of his depth. Only a matter of time before he totally loses the dressing room.

    Busby handpicked McGuinness with disastrous results. Ferguson did the same with Moyes…
    The biggest problem, of course, is as long as the Glazers are sucking the lifeblood out of the club, no decent manager will even take a second look at such a poisoned chalice.

  • http://HereIsTheCity. RedScot

    Good write up Boss, as normal… although the cynicism does shine through. Keep smiling Ed, it’s going to get harder before it gets better.
    The odd thing about everything Mr Moyes tells us or not, he simply lacks the political acumen to encourage the support and as clear as day turns into night; the players.
    We all know United need investment and Sir Alex toed the Glazers party line. Great owners etc ” If I want funds to buy players, they have always supported me.” Really?
    Yet a club like Manchester United are seriously hampered by the poverty of options in all positions at the club. A team that is ageing and truly lacking sparkling World Class players to compete on the biggest Champions League stage. If we look at the top clubs in the Bundesliga, La Liga or to a lesser extent SerieA, United are now the poor relations. Watching the team of the last few years, has become a trudge, slow tempo, no fight, vim or gusto to our play. With 1/2 a Billion Pounds frittered away on servicing a leveraged buy-out, I know where I lay the blame. The Glazers without a second thought. Their time is coming, not David Moyes he is just the patsy for the blame game. If you will not invest seriously in the club, as per City, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal with high calibre players, you as you know Ed standstill.
    I have no problem with Fellaini, give him time to settle then we can assess the Belgian properly, but is he a world class football player, that merited paying more than £4 Million over his lapsed 1st of July buy-out clause? Who’s nest was being feathered in that transaction. Wheels within wheels.
    Anyhow not my article, so I thought I would just drop by and have a wee read, as normal on Rant beautifully written and bang on the money.

  • kagawa krew

    Sack Moyes Now RUBBISH rio RUBBISH evra RUBBISH young RUBBISH felover RUBBISH They’re RUBBISH Sack shrek The Traitor He’s RUBBISH

  • David

    Spot on.
    What must the players be thinking when the manager is saying they are not good enough.
    Some people will talk about how Fergie was given time to get it right. But Fergie took over a bunch of drunks and underachievers and in a few years and a few changes made them champions.
    Moyes looks like he’s bringing us back to the pub!!

  • therealdeal

    Moyes has left Everton, Martinez has taken over, now Everton find themselves in 4th place and the only undefeated team in the league. With Moyes, we are starting to look like the Everton when Moyes was in charge there, struggling to just make the top 6 to get in the Europa league. Moyes should not be in the media saying the reason for the poor results is because we need world class players. I wonder how are players are feeling by him making statements like that! Is he saying are players are no good or is he trying to cover his ass.

  • Denton Davey

    Time for a dose of reality. Compare the 2008 double EPL/CL champions with today’s first-team and it’s depressing – or, put another way, confirmation of what the manager said.

    Rio/Vidic/Evra 2008 > today
    Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs > today

    That’s 6/11 for the 2008 team.

    Rooney/DDG/MC16 = Rooney/Edwin/MC16

    Maybe Rafael is better than Wesley Brown/Owen Hargreaves/RedNev at right back.

    It’s arguable that only RVP > Carlitos whose two misses in the first half made the 2008 final a squeaky-bum affair. However, even making that point, who can forget the misses that RVP made in Madrid last season ?

    Is this difference the result of a Glazernomic money-squeeze or just an inability to replace top-notch players like CR7 while persisting with Rio/Scholes/Giggs and maybe Evra and Vidic for too long ?

    One thing is for sure, SAF squeezed as much as he could get from Rio/Scholes/Giggs/Vidic/Evra and the results of the past five years have largely justified his faith in these guys but TheGingerNinja is now retired, Giggs and Rio are well-past their best-by dates while Vidic and Evra can’t continue for much longer.

    Even IF SAF had not retired, the problems of re-booting the 2008 team would still be front-and-center since it’s hardly fair to claim that the present squad contains the same level of quality as the 2008 team.

    It’s to Moyes’ credit that he has spoken frankly about this situation; maybe it was not a judicious thing to do but it’s hard to deny the facts-of-the-matter.

  • Andrew Ngulube- Mangochi- Malawi.

    No,no, no, let us take this with sober minds. Sacking players and manager won’t help. This mess should be looked at all together. The manager should not draw a fuse to players publicly like that. It’s really embarassing!

  • Neil

    Ed, this is spot on. Moyes is “doing a Hodgson” because he is coming out with the too-honest, conservative, defeatist crap which makes him come across as weak rather than commanding. Disturbing similarity in his tone compared to Hodgson’s brief stint at Anfield. Before long, the players will have contempt for him because this kind of negative bullshit sounds pathetic and weak.

    If the squad isn’t good enough, then keep your mouth shut, work your arse off, motivate them so they aren’t so shit, and don’t screw up so much next time in the transfer market.

    So many things are going wrong at the moment, but worst of all there is no fight from the players, apart from Rooney who shows some spirit. Hardly anyone looks fired up. Also saw some good effort from Januzaj on Saturday, he’s young and occasionally makes mistakes but he has a great attitude and a lot of potential. We need Vidic and Phil Jones to give the lads a good kicking in training and wake everyone up.

    The players are not playing for Moyes right now, this is a psychological factor affecting players’ motivation, and then coupled with various football issues it explains the current slump. If he gets people on side and gets some performances and results then the negativity will subside, or this will continue into a downward spiral of negativity, the media will be all over it like we haven’t seen for years.

    Tough away match on Wednesday followed by a series of must-win league matches, it will only get more and more pressurised from here because the safety net of hiding behind so-called difficult fixtures won’t be there. United’s performances apart from parts of the Swansea + Bayer Leverkusen games have been poor.

  • Neil

    Denton has made a good point about the squad.

    I would say that the squad has a reasonable blend of youth and experience, however crucially it is a bit lop-sided and also weak in midfield.

    In terms of strikers, you could put Rooney, RVP and Hernandez straight into any club in the league. Pellegrini, Mourinho, Wenger or Rodgers wouldn’t have any complaints if they woke up tomorrow morning and found their current top 3 strikers had been replaced by those 3. In fact Mourinho or Wenger would be ecstatic and would probably let us borrow some of their midfielders in return.

    Defensively there are issues but with player rotation it can be managed. Rio and Vidic shouldn’t be playing more than one game per week, however you’d put Vidic up there with Kompany as the best defender in the league. We have Jones, Evans and Smalling with a lot of potential at CB but they haven’t had enough games there in the past 2 years to evolve and improve.

    Rafael’s injury absence has hurt us much more than I anticipated. At left back Evra has had better days, and still not convinced by Buttner. De Gea in goal is one of the better young keepers around; admittedly no one could have replaced Van Der Sar, short of signing Neuer or someone like that.

    It’s the midfield that was the timebomb waiting for any new manager. Some good individuals, however there is clearly not a grouping to have emerged that gets anywhere near being more than adequate as an overall four.

    Young looked alright in 2011/12 but is now on zero confidence, Valencia isn’t the player he used to be, and Nani as we know has a case for being the most inconsistent player who has ever played for the club.

    Getting the best from Kagawa is a conundrum because Rooney is parked in the No 10 role but whatever we are trying to do, just stick with it, we are chopping and changing every game, despite him looking quite good against Leverkusen. We need to trust Nani, Kagawa and Zaha, these are the guys with the individual ability who can make an impact. But there’s hardly a player out there who will give their best when they have stop-start stop-start appearances. We need to find a system to suit the best individuals and get some consistency.

    Januzaj is a good prospect, he has a great attitude, and the mix of technical ability allied to game intelligence that is good to see in a young player. I am looking forward to seeing how he gets on in the next couple of years.

    Central midfield is poor and has been a jinx for a while, we’ve seen Hargreaves and Fletcher disappear and Anderson turn from an outstanding prospect SIX YEARS AGO to a player now who almost certainly won’t even reach a quarter of his potential, we need to send him out on loan or something. Cleverley would be an excellent squad player but I couldn’t picture him being a starter for Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea or City. At least he shows some determination and despite his limitations he will get some games.

    Carrick is good but his lack of mobility means that he needs careful partnering. You could picture a combo of Carrick and Yaya Toure being effective, that’s the type of dynamic player he would go well with. We shot ourselves in the foot with the Pogba situation, I think he could have slotted straight into the team.

    As for Fellaini we’ll need to see how things go, at the moment I am far from convinced. I normally go on my gut reaction to prospective signings. Many years ago just before we signed Alan Smith I felt a bit sick, I didn’t think he’d be much good for us. The feeling regarding Fellaini was exactly the same, I don’t feel he was what was needed.

    I hope (if Moyes survives this year) that he has the balls to have a clearout. It’s not rocket science, City signed Navas for reasonable money, and I don’t think we’d be complaining having him instead of Young or Valencia. We need to get things right with future transfers or the midfield jinx will continue to nullify anything else that goes remotely well for us.

  • Will

    True. Moyes is a bit of a PR shambles. One minute: ‘I’m happy with the squad’, next: ‘we’ve no world class players/we need to bring players in’. One minute: ‘I will sort this out’, next: ‘I am trying, I hope I can’.

    And his team selection, shape and strategy is hard to identify.

    It also makes me shiver to see Phil Neville and Ryan Giggs in the technical area. As coaches they’ve only just graduated.

    Marks out of ten so far for DM: 3? (2 for beating Liverpool in the league cup).

  • Julian

    I am not a subscriber to the notion that everything was hunky dory with United when Moyes took over. Far from it. The team had been successful principally because Fergie had them performing at 15% – 20% above normal. Moyes is right, the team needs strengthening – perhaps not necessarily with five or six world class players but perhaps with three. Instead of talking to the media, Moyes needs to sit down with Woodward and the Glazers and tell them he needs some real financial backing otherwise there is every prospect that United will be left behind and that their investment will start heading south.

  • Ashish

    Hi Ed,

    Although Moyes may not have been clever enough when he aired his views to the media, he is absolutely spot on when he says that United’s success last season was due to the failings of other teams.

    Moyes recognizes that the team needs strengthening and he has humbly acknowledged this fact.

    Now exactly how he goes about strengthening the squad remains to be seen. I hope Moyes and Woodward have learnt their lessons from the last transfer window.

    His first priority will be to fix that defense, as it is leaking goals galore.

    Once the defense is fixed, atleast United then won’t be conceding and losing games so thats half the battle won.

    Rio and Vidic are showing visible signs of wear and tear and it’s time the likes of Smalling and Jones ready themselves to take over.

    Even if Moyes and United finish this season trophyless, I am fine with it, provided we finish in the champions league places.

    Giving him a season to settle in and getting used to the atmosphere here in Manchester should enable him to then improve and grow as a manager.

    But in order for that, United need results….and quickly.

    Regards,
    Ashish

  • gabagool

    If we’re 5 or 6 world class players short then what the fuck were you doing for 2 months in the transfer window Moyes?
    This was always going to be a period of transition, but losing to WBA? Give me a break