Manchester United were terrible. The lack of overall ability within the team was shocking. The penalties will haunt most. But even after the Captial One Cup semi-final exit to Sunderland, it still isn’t time for David Moyes to be shown the door.
It’s the bed United have made for themselves. The question of whether Moyes is the right man for the job is entirely different – we’re not asking that at this time. It’s a matter of how long should he be given. Considering the Glazers offered him a six-year contract, with connotations of a dislike and disinterest in the modern, trigger-happy approach of appointing and firing, half a season is simply too soon to be thinking about moving Moyes on.
David Moyes may have his shortcomings. He isn’t the figure of authority that Alex Ferguson was (and arguably continues to be), but he doesn’t really need to be. Managers can win games, win over the fans and board and subsequently capture trophies without being bold on the touchline. Provided there isn’t an upset in the final of the League Cup, the quiet, unassuming Engineer Manuel Pellegrini will pick up his first trophy in English football in the coming weeks.
But Moyes didn’t miss those penalties. Maybe there’s an issue about the abdication of responsibility when picking who would take the penalties, with reports suggesting Moyes left it to the players to decide. But nevertheless he himself still didn’t step up and take such horrendous spot-kicks.
Nor did he miss the golden opportunity Javier Hernandez had to put the game out of doubt, missing the target altogether by a distance that was far greater than was initially thought upon second inspection. David de Gea’s casual approach that led to Sunderland’s goal was the fault of the Spaniard, not the manager.
Another important point that may be looked past due to the player in question is Adnan Januzaj’s performance. On the whole, the youngster was United’s best attacker, probably only beaten to the otherwise pointless award of best player on the pitch for United by Chris Smalling. Januzaj was lively, looked to create, and even set up Hernandez for United’s second.
But Januzaj showed his immaturity on a number of occasions on the night. It’s one thing to take responsibility and force the result in your team’s favour. It’s entirely another to not know the best course of action when chasing or closing out a result.
Some may say that’s harsh, but Januzaj often looked to go for goal himself when there were better placed team-mates ahead of him. The most notable came in extra time when he opted for a long-range effort when Hernandez and Danny Welbeck were in the box and Phil Jones was either offering another option or creating space for others to Januzaj’s right.
It speaks of the poor state of the squad that such a young and inexperienced player has been left to guide his team out of such rough waters, but yet again those decisions shouldn’t fall to the door of the manager.
Moyes has been entrusted with overhauling the United team. The squad is ageing, with younger figures not up to the task of taking on responsibility themselves. It needs players who know what’s required of them, both in high-stakes matches but also in low-profile ties. Players like Juan Mata. United probably would have won on Wednesday night had both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney been available. It isn’t Moyes’ fault, at least not entirely, that the players behind those two are not capable of filling in.
Moyes is the man Ferguson and the club landed on to take the club forward. Yes, it is true that Moyes would either be far down or completely absent from the list of possible appointments for clubs like Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Barcelona, AC Milan, and Arsenal.
But firing Moyes now goes against the principles of his initial appointment. Many United fans won’t be too concerned about that, but the club will not look to take that course of action at this time. At the very least Moyes should have two seasons in the job. There is sure to be interest and intrigue as to how he does with a squad that is comparable to those currently at the top of the Premier League.