Vincent Ralph looks at some key reasons why David Moyes can follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.
With the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson comes the belief among many that his Manchester United empire will, if not crumble, certainly diminish. There is a feeling that the 71-year-old adds points to the club’s final tally simply through his presence – either in the dressing room when inspiring his players, or on the touchline when frantically tapping his watch.
When he announced his retirement, it was hailed as a leveller; that the clubs who finished this campaign below United would be on an equal if not slightly better footing come August.
This theory seemed to suggest the players had nothing to do with it, and that incoming manager David Moyes had spent 11 years at Everton twiddling his thumbs rather than developing tactics and techniques of his own.
So while the comments were right to a degree – that the club’s loss would be significant and that they may fall short at times in the future when they wouldn’t have under the Scot – there are five reasons why Moyes’ legacy can be every bit as successful as his predecessor’s.
The forward thinking
Ferguson has said it countless times in recent weeks: United are in very good nick. They are not too young or too old, they are balanced. Alongside the likes of Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, Rafael and David De Gea stand players of the calibre and experience of Michael Carrick, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie. And while most managers take over a club needing major changes, Moyes’ inherits one requiring only tweaks.
Ferguson always promised to leave the club in the best possible condition for whoever took over. And a look at the squad proves he was true to his word. That doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. A new midfielder is imperative – with Marouane Fellaini consistently linked with the job. But Moyes inherits a side used to winning, with both experience and exuberance aplenty.
The next generation
On the first day of post-season, Moyes took a trip to Old Trafford to speak to the current coaching staff. That same evening, United’s youngsters won the inaugural Under-21 Premier League final, with a side full of potential first-teamers of the future.
The headlines were made by top-scorer Larnell Cole, who followed his hat-trick in the semi-final with a brace in the 3-2 win over Tottenham. But Belgian Adnan Januzaj is regarded by many as the crown jewel. While defenders Tom Thorpe and Marnick Vermijl, midfielder Ben Pearson and striker James Wilson could all be destined for United’s first 11 in seasons to come.
Add when you also consider Nick Powell, Will Keane and the soon-to-arrive Wilfried Zaha the future looks very bright.
The fact that Ryan Giggs will remain in the changing room next season shouldn’t be understated. He has a huge part to play in the transition from one manager to the next. Add to that the coaching role of Nicky Butt and the likely backroom-involvement of Paul Scholes, and the echoes of Ferguson’s greatest ever team will be heard for some time to come.
Those men will have a vital role to play in the new era, perhaps most importantly to continue the club’s ethos and to instil it in any new arrivals.
The transfer policy
Some say Moyes is good with money, others say he is foolish. But the truth is every manager makes mistakes, and even his predecessor was guilty of more than a few missteps in the transfer market.
In the signings of Fellaini, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill to name a few, Moyes has proved to be an astute and canny operator. With considerably more funds now available, don’t expect him to overspend. He will continue to seek out a bargain when and where he can. In short, you sense the club’s transfer kitty is in safe and savvy hands.
Following Ferguson has been called the impossible job. Many have said the one after that is the job everyone will want, to replace the man who replaced a legend. And yet Ferguson’s legacy may not be the albatross many are suspecting. It could actually be a key factor in Moyes’ long-term success.
The incoming manager’s six-year contract and the history of Ferguson’s tenure means that Moyes will come in knowing he has time. Those suggesting he will be sacked following two straight defeats forget Ferguson has suffered the same on more than one occasion. And as an unseen but no less heard influence in the boardroom, he will calm nerves should Moyes’ reign ever wobble.
You sense that rather than seeing his predecessor’s achievements as pressures he will see them as inspiration.
Do you believe Moyes can ultimately be just as successful as Ferguson?
image: © Jason Gulledge