Friday, May 10, 2013

Manchester United's Sloppy Seconds: David Moyes

Manchester United really took their time on this announcement. I mean within 5 days they had lined up and appointed their new manager, David Moyes. Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) hand-picked his successor but for those fans believing this will be a seamless transition, don't bet on it. Manchester United hooked up with the first decent looking girl they saw, instead of talking to anyone else eyeing them at the bar. At least Moyes will have the benefit of an entire offseason to buy players, bring back players from loan and fully evaluate this team. 
A Premier League title would be the crowning achievement for almost any other club however, SAF has set the bar so high, with 13 EPL titles, 2 Champions League trophies, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups in 26 years. SAF averaged nearly 2 trophies per season including Community Shields (38) since winning his first trophy, a feat which will probably never be duplicated. Therein lies the problem for David Moyes, if he struggles at the beginning of his tenure (SAF did not win a trophy until his 4th year), will the fans stay behind him? You have to respect Liverpool in that regard, as Brendan Rodgers and his distinct philosophy are buoyed by the supporters even as the team produces mediocre results. 
MUFC are the Premier League champions of 2013, few would say that this team, which is petering to the finish line, is a finished product. Manchester United have rescued 28 points from losing positions home and away, can Moyes inspire United to success as SAF did? It's doubtful. Remember in 2011-2012, this team went trophyless and the natives (see reference) were restless (look at the poorest persons in the film "Annie" and that is your basic MUFC fan). But I digress. They purchased Shinji Kagawa to supplement Robin Van Persie's arrival last summer,  hoping their younger players (Cleverly, Powell, Welbeck, Anderson) would develop around these players. But Kagawa is no midfield maestro, in fact he looked out of place and often came off the bench when he was healthy and the rest hardly made an impact. In fact, they were so desperate that they actually brought back Scholes from retirement and continue to play Giggs in important fixtures. Their pedestrian midfield did not offer the creativity, making them a predictable albeit effective machine, which is why they were limited to one trophy this year. The one bright spot in MF was Michael Carrick, whose overall game grew by leaps and bounds.

David Moyes
David Moyes Premier League gamesDavid Moyes has been in charge of Everton for more games (11 years)than any other manager not to win a trophy at the club. Everton, historically are a MAJOR club in the premier league, a quick glance at their trophy haul (namely 8 EPL titles and 5 FA Cups) speaks volumes. However, taking over from the relegation-threatened Merseyside club in 2002, and with limited resources in comparison to the majority of the clubs who have won the trophies during his tenure, Moyes is considered to have done a good job. Moyes' overall record should ring the alarm bells for any Manchester United fan, because an average of 11 losses and 10 draws per year equals 53 dropped points a year.

Moyes record against the top 4 teams:
David Moyes record versus top 4

That is a record of 13-48-19 overall prior to 2012-2013 (top 4 haven't been determine yet). Awful. Taking a closer look at head to head matchups within the top 4, Arsenal's Arsene Wenger has a 14-3-5 record against Moyes. Jose Mourinho (Chelsea's next manager according to the press)?  His record is 4-0-2 against David Moyes head to head. Scary.

Transfer Dealings
There are many redeeming qualities to David Moyes, his longevity, positive attitude and ability to maximize the results for cash-strapped Board of Directors at Everton FC. He has spotted talents such as Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini, Leyton Baines, Tim Everton, Kevin Mirallas and more. His bargain basement dealings suit him well for a team with issues financially; Manchester United isn't going to want Filene's Basement, they want Dolce & Gabbana. In other words, with an unlimited budget, where the premium is on top quality talent, can he still evaluate a player's worth?

Playing Style
Over the last two years, Everton has played the ball on the ground more and more. However, they are still a long-ball team who rely on Baines and Pienaar to reak havoc on the left and cross the ball to the likes of Fellaini, Anichebe and company. Unlike many great managers, David Moyes has no defined playing style often focusing on defense solidity and long balls and trying to quickly counter-attack opponents. His style has been compared to Stoke (by Steven Gerrard) as opposed to Barcelona. At Manchester United, that will only work against European giants in WINS, against any other team, they will want to see their team on the front foot. Moyes philosophy, or lack thereof, is too cautious to be appreciated by Manchester United. I do believe that SAF will help him balance his bruising style with the talent available at his disposal.

Potential Candidates
In short, Manchester United have passed on some stellar big-name managers to reward a coach who has performed admirably with an English club. They found a manager who has the intensity and work ethic but not the pedigree of a champion. I doubt their search reached past the countries borders. Manchester United, considered the most valuable brand in sports along with the New York Yankees, would have been better served at least approaching established European masterminds Gus Hiddink, Rafael Benitez, Manuel Pelligrini (who Manchester City are reportedly close to hiring), Jose Mourinho and/or Jurgen Klopp. By selecting a successor so quickly in his last act as manager of the club, SAF did them a serious disservice.

My Pick
My pick of the bunch? Jurgen Klopp: German Cup, German Supercup and 2-time Bundesliga (Germany) title winner. He has also been Germany's club manager of the year in 2011 and 2012. Tactically and technically proficient, he has guided a young Borussia Dortmund side to the Champions League final this year (beating Real Madrid who knocked out Manchester United). His transfer purchases have been astute and led to success on and off the field. In the case of Klopp, he has found top-class talent early, working with a mediocre budget and his team plays arguably the best football in the world. Oh and he is only 45 years old a virtual baby in the realm of football management.

I don't think many United fans would argue that Klopp is a better manager than Moyes, in every respect.

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