After suffering five league defeats to date, three of which have occurred at Old Trafford, the pressure on Manchester United manager David Moyes has suddenly intensified especially as his team are 13 points behind Premier League leaders with only 15 games played. Two successive home losses against Everton and Newcastle have prompted suggestions that he lacks the necessary ability to succeed the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson as United boss. It may not be as simple as that.
David Moyes oversaw the development of a consistent Everton team over many years without the financial resources available to other prominent Premier League managers. Following Ferguson into the Old Trafford hot seat was always viewed as a difficult task for any new incumbent but Moyes was considered a worthy choice at the time.
Manchester United had claimed the Premier League title again prior to his official appointment, but it was generally reckoned that this was one of the poorer United teams to have accomplished such a feat. Several of the senior players were no longer the dominant force of previous years and the emerging youngsters lacked the real star quality of the class of ’92. The fear of upsetting Ferguson was also cited as a motivational factor in the title winning performance of last season.
Yet, it could even be argued that Ferguson’s reign began relatively slowly in 1986 and he was then fortunate to have been graced with such a talented crop of young players in his team for so many years and all emerging at the same time. The likes of the Neville brothers, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Paul Scholes were the foundations on which Fergie built formidable teams throughout his tenure and which generated a vast amount of Champions League revenue for future team funding.
Moyes may not have inherited a similar pool of young players although there is still sufficient talent within the squad to warrant a better league position. Injuries in recent weeks to Michael Carrick and especially Robin van Persie have not helped matters, with the Dutchman’s uncanny ability to score very late goals being a contributory factory in United’s title surge last season.
An impressive 5-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League now appears to have been overlooked as Manchester United struggle in the Premier League with supporters voicing their disapproval at a team which they assumed had earned the divine right to win every week. The continual sight of Ferguson sitting in the Old Trafford stand must also be an unwelcome distraction for Moyes.
Manchester United are probably now be a team in transition which can lead to a period of inconsistency. But Moyes must not panic in January by embarking upon a serious recruitment drive, as players often take time to settle and are not guaranteed to make an immediate impact at a new club.
The Scotsman must be given time to slowly rebuild the squad and create his own legacy away from the shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson, but will he be granted the necessary time in an ever more demanding Premier League?