Date:Monday January 20 2014
22 games in, 6 (potentially 7) points off the top four and for the first time in a long time we can't wait for it the season to end. However, does the end of the season mark the end of a dire and dour period for the club or is it just the tip of the iceberg of things to come?
The Moyes regime thus far has been nothing short of an underwhelming emotional roller-coaster for the fan base. We're seemingly caught in a vicious cycle of false horizons shortly followed by utter disappointment. One minute we're being linked with players of Fabregas/Bale quality and the next we're putting in bids for Fellaini/Baines.
One minute we're being told we're sitting on a fortune and are going to spend and the next we're being told there's no one available. One minute we're watching the team win a game and put in a good performance looking like they're getting back to winning ways and the next we're being outplayed by Sunderland. You get the idea but a concerning thought is, is this the start of how we mean to go on?
I'm just going to come right out and say it now and confess that I don't believe Moyes is the one to lead us to glory. He's just not the same calibre of manager as those in and around challenging for the title. He's the right man for maintaining Champions League football which is alright during the post-Fergie transition but that should never be the long-term goal of a club of our stature and standing in football.
He's tactically poor. There's no variation in his system, you know every time we go out to play you're going to see 4 at the back, 2 central midfielders, 2 wingers; 1 natural, 1 inverted, 1 in-the-hole player and then 1 up top. We seemingly don't look to exploit any of the oppositions weaknesses and deficiencies, it's just the same game plan, give it to Rooney/Carrick/RVP/Januzaj and hope they do something else get it out wide and whip it in and hope by some miracle someone gets on the end of the poor and typically over-hit crosses.
We're losing, do we change the system to try and turn things around? Nope, we change players to fit the same system in the hope something will change. We're not losing by some miracle but are being thoroughly outplayed, do we change the system to try and turn things around? Nope, we change players to fit the same system in the hope something will change.
HIis motivational skills are questionable. Some of his comments in the media have been real clangers. Granted he's words are typically twisted by the media and deprived of context but how is it he lets himself be caught out time and again and not learn?
On the pitch if a player plays well one week he's still highly susceptible to being dropped the next. At the same time though other players can have a mare week-in, week-out and still be regularly selected for the side. Kagawa was brilliant playing in-the-hole last week whilst Januzaj played wide yet there's this insistence that Kagawa's best position is on the bench and Januzaj should play through the middle.
What has Young done recently to warrant starting ahead of Kagawa for the Chelsea game?
Why was Fletcher dropped in place of Jones who has just returned from injury when our best and most assured performances this season have come when he and Fletcher have played in the middle?
Why can't Zaha get a game to save his life in preference to Valencia who's offering very little other than over-hit crosses offensively and tracking back defensively?
Unlike Fergie, Wenger, Guardiola, Mourinho, Heynckes, Klopp, Loew, etc the players simply just do not play for him despite all of their backing in the media.
He still doesn't know his best team. Each week we know the system but the random selection of who's playing outside of the givens is anyone`s guess. Not to mention the ever evident and blatant lack of identity and intention in his selections. Very rarely can you tell if the team he's setting out is meant to be attacking, counter-attacking or defending, the players seemingly don't even know as they all look like they're on different pages.
In the short-term future unless something radical happens or I'm completely wrong about Moyes (which I sincerely hope to be the case) you've got to imagine City and Chelsea are going to be trading blows for the title, Arsenal to finish comfortably in 3rd whilst Tottenham, Liverpool and ourselves are in the dogfight for fourth.
Now, let's go into the purely hypothetical but very real threat that we do indeed miss out of the top four spots. I'm not going to go into the obvious questions that will arise regarding whether key/star players will stay, whether Moyes credentials have to be questioned, whether the Glazers intentions of the club should be question and whether Moyes can spot and attract the players we need to sort the mess out.
Instead I'm going to consider the time span we realistically have before our goals will have to change from challenging for the top honours to scrapping for Champions League football and the grim conclusion I've come to after much deliberation is we only have next season before we free-fall in expectation.
Any team that goes without Champions League football for any period of time will struggle to get into the Champions League. In the Premier League this is even more so the case with all of Liverpool, Tottenham and ourselves having well established foundations to ensure getting into the top four will mean a stranglehold on it for the foreseeable future so missing out would put us at an instant disadvantage. Thankfully we have a first team more than capable of comfortably finishing in the top four, something Liverpool's and Tottenham's can only scrap for as proved in recent seasons.
The crux is though is our first team squad is either ageing, injury prone or reaching the ends of their contracts. After the coming season Rooney could well be gone. For the coming season though we don't have to sell him and, if we miss out on top four, it's vital that we don't sell him. We're better off missing out entirely on any potential income from selling him, as his aid in retaining Champions League football will be a lot more valuable and financially beneficial. Once he's gone though if we haven't got back into the top four I don't see much hope of firmly re-establishing ourselves as a side in contention of the title with the squad as it stands (assuming also no future stars come through into the first team like Januzaj).
The importance of strengthening the squad in the Summer has never been more important than it is now and with a large number of feasible targets signing contracts it's not going to be easy, especially without the appeal of Champions League football. If Moyes gets us back into the top four and keeps us there during his tenure without doing nothing more and nothing less then it can only be considered a successful spell, we would've survived the biggest hurdle the clubs faced since Busby retired.
From there on though the true intentions of the Glazers will revealed in whether they choose Champions League football and offer Moyes another contract or look towards greater success, thank Moyes for doing a great job and overseeing the transition post-Fergie, let things end amicably and then push on and look for a title-challenging manager.
Date:Monday January 20 2014
Trust in Moyes Wavering? (Monday April 21 2014)
Lallana Has Sell-On Clause! (Monday April 21 2014)
Things Must Be Bad! (Monday April 21 2014)
United - No Cutting Edge! (Sunday April 20 2014)
Stats: Eveton v United (Sunday April 20 2014)
Everton v United - Line-Ups (Sunday April 20 2014)
One Wild Smalling Rumour (Sunday April 20 2014)
Fabregas Back in the Frame (Sunday April 20 2014)
Those Dutch Rumours (Sunday April 20 2014)
Make Your Mind Up Time for Shaw (Sunday April 20 2014)
|Man Utd||4||-||1||Aston Villa|
|Man Utd||0||-||3||Man City|
|West Ham||0||-||2||Man Utd|
|7. Man Utd||34||17||6||11||16||57|
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