The empire that Sir Alex built is crumbling; an ageing squad coupled with a misdirected approach to management has seen Manchester United toppled from their throne and condemned to the ignominy of Premier League mid-table mediocrity.
David Moyes may be the ‘Chosen One’ but of late he is proving himself to be the ‘Incompetent One’ as well.
The Scot was faced with the tallest of tasks when joining the Champions last summer, but to date his naïve approach has only done further harm to a club desperately in need of a rebuild. His acquisitions haven’t exactly helped things either; both Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata look to be ill-fitting parts in a creaking United machine. Moyes’ United side are neither resilient nor cavalier, they are unable to form a cohesive attacking unit while also being pretty susceptible at the back. It is hardly surprising therefore that the boo boys are out in force baying for his head.
Yet it isn’t just Moyes that ought to be battening down the hatches at United, a former great and club legend is also facing the wrath of supporters. Targeted for his appointment of Moyes, Ferguson is also the focus of an astonishing barrage of hatred.
This is the man that delivered them 38 trophies in 26 years, including 13 league titles and a couple of European Cup victories to boot. Arguably the greatest manager of all time and a living legend, surely he deserves a little more respect from the fans that he gave his life to?
Legendary status doesn’t make you untouchable. Whilst criticisms of a man that achieved so much seem a little tasteless, many of the grievances are actually justified.
United’s grip on the English game was fading alongside Sir Alex’s tenure, the final Premier League crown was won on borrowed time with an ageing squad readied for one last hurrah under their soon to be departing leader. There was no legacy at United, no real preparation for an era after Ferguson. This was a squad capable of one last great season held together by the aura and reputation of the great man himself.
Retirement planning for Ferguson focused on racehorses and red wine, not Manchester United.
The conspiracy theorists may argue that this was all a ploy by Ferguson to cement his era as the greatest of all; I’d like to think he is a little better than that personally. But clearly there was no great effort over the last few years to ensure this transition was a smooth one.
Should we just blame Sir Alex?
It would be harsh to lay all the blame on the great man himself. Clearly the board have a lot to answer for, allowing a club of such stature to fall so far in such little time is pitiful. But I didn’t expect any less from the Glazer’s, a family yet to really grasp what football means, what is needed for a club like Manchester United to thrive. You can accuse Moyes of being naïve but the United board are even worse for failing to realise the enormity of the task the club faced.
David Moyes’ managerial appointment isn’t the main issue at United, you would struggle to find a manager that would be able to succeed in such a short space of time with the resources he has had available to him. Fans may have wanted Mourinho or Guardiola, but really what would they have done so differently? Sure Moyes has made mistakes, but these aren’t actions alone that explain United’s dramatic fall from grace. The hand had already been dealt last summer and from then on in the task was largely a hopeless one.
Criticising Ferguson seems ungracious and even a little conceited; but it shouldn’t be. The Scot left the club in the lurch last summer, and weighed upon his so called chosen son an unachievable and somewhat thankless task.
The issues at United go beyond David Moyes’ door and in some ways it is good that fans are starting to realise this.
Ferguson is far from infallible, and even his reputation shouldn’t deflect from the mess he left United in last summer.