David Moyes would have been made well aware of the task facing him at Old Trafford when he accepted the offer to succeed Alex Ferguson. And while the League Cup win over Stoke and the 3-0 win away to Aston Villa would have been greeted extremely warmly at Manchester United, there must now be an acceptance that periods of long-term success are still on the cards, but not without short-term difficulties.
There is no quick-fix for the wider problems at the club. If that were the case, an individual like Jose Mourinho would be in the dugout, rather than David Moyes and a six-year contract. The club need fresh faces and those who are both willing to work and buy into the new manager’s ideas, but the project at hand is that of an overhaul, not a matter of simple tweaking.
The squad available to Moyes at this time is one that Ferguson built, partly for a view to the future as seen by recent signings such as Phil Jones, David de Gea and Chris Smalling, but also one that would have allowed him to go out on a high – the signing of Robin van Persie.
The League Cup is perfectly set up for a Manchester derby in the final, but beyond that, it is possible that it will be a few seasons before United see success in the way of the Premier League title. Moyes must reshape a group of overachievers into a squad that both fits his ideals but is also ready and capable of mounting strong charges on multiple fronts. What we saw at Aston Villa was impressive, but United have been far from the frontrunners of consistency this season.
For all that can be said of United’s success in the past, the club can be excused for going through a transitional period. Such is the changing face of football that no club, even the elite’s of European football, is exempt from having to experience a lull.
What Moyes needs – and what many are confident he’ll get – is time to establish himself. We know what he’s capable of in the Premier League, but taking on a weight of expectation of this magnitude would be foreign to most managers. Moreover, he’s hardly been given the tools to hit the ground running. Any difficulty in instantly repeating title success is more than understandable.
The club should look to lock horns with the biggest clubs in Europe for the world-class players who become available, but the importance, more than the price, is the construct of a team who are capable of maintaining a stay at the top for long spells. Moyes, on the evidence of his six-year deal, has been adjudged to be more than good enough to oversee such a project.
United are still one of the biggest draws in world football, but taking a short-term hit is often necessary to rebuild a squad, one that is good enough to maintain a stay where a club of United’s stature should be.