I absolutely despise the term ‘refreshing’ when used in a discussion about football. Honestly, what does it really mean? That you’re too snobbish to accept what the modern game is all about? Or is it that you used one instance to try and convince everyone (and yourself) that you were always the most forward-thinking of football observers? It doesn’t really matter, Manchester United’s decision to appoint David Moyes as their next manager is something you can quite comfortably class as ‘refreshing.’
It’s that United didn’t take the obvious route and opt for any of the bigger names on this summer’s merry-go-round. Although, it could be argued that Moyes always was the obvious choice, with his background and approach to the game incredibly similar to that of Alex Ferguson. And that’s why I don’t see a problem at all. It’s an old-school appointment and one that might have been seen as the norm 20 years ago. Regardless of Moyes’ lack of experience and successes on the silverware front, this is a fantastic decision for the club with a long-term plan in place.
The thing about this one is that I’ve seen people suggest Moyes will struggle to attract big names from the continent this summer because of his lack of European experience. The immediate comparisons drawn up were that of Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, almost as if to suggest the Portuguese and German didn’t start somewhere themselves. Both of those managers didn’t magically find themselves at the pinnacle of the European game overnight. There is and should always be far more to football than just experience in Europe’s top club competition.
But why wouldn’t some of the best players in Europe want to work with Moyes? How about the fact that he is one of the best managers in England? I’m not really interested in the finer details of Everton at the moment, but there is a reason why he is one of the longest serving managers in the Premier League. Whether Everton had reached a glass ceiling in English football is another discussion, but this move up in the game for Moyes was rapidly approaching and this is proving to be the perfect time for things to fall into place for all parties.
There’s far too much sensationalism in England about football clubs crumbling under one managerial decision which is deemed to be wrong. How many times have Chelsea got it wrong, and yet they’re in another cup final. It’s always been about the safe option in this country, that primarily being what people know best. Yeah sure, let’s always have clubs splash out on the big-name striker from Italy instead of the shrewd move for the unknown in Eastern Europe. People will be quick to criticise and question because they’re afraid of the uncertain future.
David Moyes and his new six-year contract is an incredibly good choice for Manchester United. What needs to be established first is that Moyes isn’t Ferguson MKII. Despite being cut from the same cloth, Moyes is his own man and will do things his way. That may not come immediately, as even with his retirement Alex Ferguson will remain on board and allow for an easy transition. That also doesn’t mean or guarantee trophies will continue to rain down on Old Trafford. If United wanted that they would have appointed Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese is a natural winner and almost guarantees trophies every year. He’s also unbelievably short term. Manchester United have too much about them to just address the next couple of seasons rather than thinking about five, 10 and 15 years into the future. Moyes’ success at developing youngsters is also a nod to that.
As recently as March it was strongly argued that Moyes’ best move was abroad if he decided not to extend at Everton. The Bundesliga had a number of interesting projects and Malaga also came to the fore recently. That was due to the right move in England not being available at the time, not because he wasn’t good enough for a title-challenging club in the Premier League.
What I find fantastic about this appointment by United is that they were brave. They were brave and said no, thank you when Mourinho gave them that look signalling the green light for an advance. They were brave when the modern game demands success so quickly that at other clubs Moyes would likely get nowhere near to his sixth year on the contract. Moreover, it sets Manchester United up once again as the trend setters. The biggest club in England have told everyone else that it’s absolutely ok to go against the norm and do what you think is right, rather than cave in to outside pressure.
A relatively green manager at the top of the English and European game will only learn to be a success at a club with a fine winning tradition.