Moyes ignored Fergie’s plan and it cost him his job

David Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson

David Moyes’ nightmarish reign is now over. Manchester United, however, has been left in tatters with rookie coach Ryan Giggs in charge for the final four games. Given the lack of available top class managers the Welshman may very well end up as the best choice to take over on a permanent basis. It leaves an open question as to why was Moyes was appointed in the first place when Jose Mourinho, Josep Guardiola  and Carlo Anchelotti were available last summer.

One conspiracy theory is that Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to deify his legacy at Old Trafford by appointing an incompetent successor. The facts over the past ten months paint a more reasonable picture than that.

When Ferguson retired Wayne Rooney was all but sold while Thiago Alcântara had been lined up as a star midfield purchase. United’s weak midfield and aging backline needed attention, but a decent transfer fund was available to address the problem.

Robin van Persie’s opportunistic acquisiton had limited Shinji Kagawa’s appearances, but the Japanese had a title-winning start in the Premier League at least. There was plenty of reason to believe United had attacking options to excite.

Thiago has proven to be an exceptional holding midfielder at Bayern Munich this season. United would have gained much had the former Barcelona player come to Old Trafford. Patrice Evra and Rafael da Silva, for example, could have advanced with far greater confidence had Thiago and Michael Carrick been present in midfield. The Reds might have even garnered another season out of the Frenchman by letting him concentrate on attacking rather than defensive duties.

It proved to be a crucial mistake – at £21.5m Thiago’s acquisition should have left enough money for a gifted winger, allowing Kagawa to play centrally in a replica of Borussia Dortmund’s approach that compensates for the lack of energy with extra creativity from deep.

In this context Moyes’ appointment made some sense. The Scot’s approach is far more system-based than Mourinho or Guardiola and the Scot’s default template is actually similar to the Dortmund model. The youth of Kagawa et al would have weathered a few years of Glazers-enforced austerity too.

So what went wrong?

Moyes decided against bringing in Thiago, experimenting in pre-season with Carrick in a role that demanded more pressing than the Geordie typically offers. Moyes’ very early trust of Anderson over Kagawa suggested that the Scot thought he could get away with Tom Cleverley or Anderson partnering Carrick in the engine room. He couldn’t.

Another Barcelona midfielder in Cesc Fabregas was eventually pursued. The suspicion, though, is that Fabregas would have played behind van Persie rather in central midfield – just as Danny Welbeck did in the season opener against Swansea City. The former Arsenal midfielder would have brought great energy and thrust in attacking areas.

The chase for Fabregas ended in humiliation. Having failed – or neglected – to bring in any wide players, Welbeck has spent as season providing cover on the flanks. Moyes certainly wanted directness if Adnan Januzaj’s exile in recent games is anything to go by. The Belgian-Kosovar is surely a considerate number 10 by nature. Meanwhile,  Rooney was given another chance and gained much leverage over Moyes, to the detriment of manager and club.

Kagawa thrives in space and tempo, neither of which have been provided by United’s functional midfield. Moyes perhaps realised his error and United’s late window approach for Ander Herrera, a player similar to Thiago, was the result. The transfer saga, which at one point supposedly involved imposters bidding for the young Spaniard, ended with Maroune Fellaini arriving at Old Trafford. Moyes’ initial trust in Anderson and Cleverley was clearly misguided, if not completely insane.

In the end Moyes’ true nature reared its conservative head. Kagawa started out wide, asked to cut in and maintain possession rather than make impact in advanced central areas. The immobile midfield partnership of Carrick and Cleverley exposed both Nemanja Vidić and Rio Ferdinand, while Moyes blindly trusted Rooney to provide all the thrust alone. He couldn’t.

Juan Mata’s arrival was, in part at least, a move to appease an increasingly angry fanbase, but the former Chelsea player of the year also serves a tactical purpose. Mata’s genius has made the best of second balls while the Spaniard’s versatility has filled the void out in wide areas.

But the fact that Kagawa was often chosen ahead of Januzaj on the left suggests that Moyes views wide players as a function of a greater system. Spending £37.5 million on a world class player to support Rooney made little sense. Considering that Moyes deploys energy – Rooney or Fabregas – in the hole Mata was simply brought in as cover, or with no plan at all. 

The long term implication is frightening. Mata is much better than Kagawa in creating space on his own and would work better with a target man that United does not possess.

van Persie is now a bona fide poacher, while Javier Hernández has been preferred in leading the line over the more well-rounded Welbeck. Moyes clearly values a man in the box at any given moment and the promising talents in Januzaj and Welbeck were always destined to face limited opportunities in their natural positions. It is worth noting that Ross Barkley at Everton is flourishing with Moyes elsewhere.

This is a theory, of course. If true though Moyes had no accurate assessment of United players and was foolish, or arrogant, enough to work against what appears to have been Sir Alex’ plan for squad evolution. Perhaps the most disturbing implication, however, is that Ferguson expected the current financial climate at Old Trafford to continue. Consistency, not excellence, is United’s target now.

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  • adam

    Ferguson had lined up Thiago and Garay for Moyes last summer, but he vetoed both deals. Moyes is a good man but struggled with the expectation. The players have gotten away with this a bit, but they have been a disgrace, with the exception of 2-3.

    Hopefully Van Gaal arrives and brings a top class coaching team with him. I would like Giggs to be apart of that set up. Van Gaal can then kick this squad into gear and maybe make them show more respect for the club and its fans.

  • http://twitter.com/bookshopaddict Daniel Chan

    Fergie spoke of the Bayern model of keeping ex-players with their knowledge involved in the club. Then Moyes ignores Giggs.

  • Dave ‘Bassett’ Moyes Fan clubDeluded Dave Moyes Fan Club

    The guy was completely useless..at.Training ,tactics, player assessment, preparation, post match drivel and totally deluded.I am now hearing that he said he was stabbed in the back.
    It shows you just how much of an idiot he was and still is.
    When Round and him were seen reading ‘Football tactics for dummies’ or a similar book, it showed what he did not know.He needs to go quietly, WHAT AN IDIOT AND EGO THIS MAN HAS MENTAL PROBLEMS!.

    • Gopher Brown

      Only a complete cretin would criticise someone for using a folder with pre-prepared information in it. What, once the head of an organisation has the top job he should stop doing any research or preparation whatsoever? Criticise everything else if you want, but you sound like Jamie Redknapp with his delight at ‘proper passionate managers’ rather than ‘laptop jockeys’

  • AKASH

    Javier Hernandez has been preferred over Welbeck??? Have you even seen the season? Try to note about their no. of starts before opening your mouth saying anything but truth.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Akash – Don’t be rude it doesn’t make you big or clever. And I think the point Jay was making was specifically about in the striking role. Welbeck rarely played up front.

  • http://twitter.com/Geelover66 PCPinkerton

    Rumour suggest 5 players were lined up. I like to believe as debt reduced aspirations have risen commensurately. Time will tell

  • terry

    Welbeck was preferred to chicharito you lying scum bags are.

    Chicharito was playing as a sub while your scumbastarddarling welbeck played constantly.

    You sad piece of lyilying crap, who was it who played when too and rvp was out…. WELBECK

    The worst forward in our squad and he failed nig time, danny is and nnever will be united quality and Tottenham are welcome to him.

    Danny cost us the fa cup, the league cup…. Totally out of his depth and should join Moyes in leaving the club..

    Rooney, rvp,chicharito are all far better players.

  • Stevie D

    Interesting theory regarding Thiago. If that was the case, then it was pretty criminal of Fergie not to have sealed the deal before he left.
    Moyes would have found it harder to ignore Fergie’s plan then, and we would not be stuck with a very expensive Sideshow Bob impersonator.

    • The Ginger Warrior

      Having read Fergies book he just wanted someone to slot into his seat and leave the transition season, don’t change anything sign the talent we have already decided on, keep the coaches they will help guide you through. Unfortunately David Moyes went against all of the advice and did his own thing, that turned out to be the wrong thing and he was rightfully terminated as manager. The problem was Fergie was thinking of a business rather than a football club and football managers usually always want their people around them.

    • homez213

      SAF tied up Zaha before he left and Moyes decided not to give him a chance, so it’s not a guarantee that Moyes would have given Thiago a chance.

  • Jessemac

    Fergie didn’t have any Thiago and Garay deal in place. Moyes officially resumed on July 1 and we could have signed both players before then if we wanted albeit they receive clearance by July 1 when the international market opened. Zaha wasn’t even close to being worth the money we paid for him. He wasn’t a standout in the Championship as the media makes it out to be. Never created chances and was too individualistic. Never got more than 6 goals in a season or 8 assists. That’s a poor return. Ince showed more potential for both the present and future yet we payed over the odds for Zaha who has been awful at Cardiff.

  • j-diz

    “The immobile midfield partnership of Carrick and Cleverley”

    Cleverley is actually a very mobile midfielder. He gets way too much stick, reminds me of when united supporters had it in for Fletcher for years.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyK7?ref=tn_tnmn Anthony Kennedy

    I still cant figure out how United fans hold Carrick in such esteem. True the lad can pass a ball but I see a player with a weak mentallity, far from a United player, since I spotted him at the home game against Liverpool in 2007, ducking out of challenges and in one instance just booting the ball away (straight to Carragher) as Gerrard made a move towards him.

    • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyK7?ref=tn_tnmn Anthony Kennedy

      back on track…
      Considering the original rant, I think that Moyes changed too much too quickly and paid the price. A nice man, a good manager but not a United manager.
      Im hope Van Gaal doesnt get the job as he is too old, I want a young manager who is a proven winner, Maybe Giggsy is the one, “”We’re Man United, we’re at home, I expect to win!”… The return of expectations is a great start.