Five things to expect from Moyes' Manchester United

David Moyes

David Moyes will take over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United next term but what can we expect from the Red Devils under the new boss?

The 50-year-old Scot has spent the last 11 years at Everton refining his skills to become one of the most sought-after managers in the Premier League.

Chelsea have just appointed Jose Mourinho, Manchester City will likely get Manuel Pellegrini but Moyes was heavily linked with both positions before agreeing to take the reigns at Old Trafford.

1) Astute Signings

One of the main staples of his career at Everton was his fantastic record of signing quality players for bargain prices. He was at Everton under tight restrictions in terms of the resources available to him and, subsequently, he is one of the most resourceful managers in football.

What does this mean for United? Well, it could mean the days of record fee transfers are gone. Firstly, there are more affluent clubs in the market now for the top top players than there ever has been before. There are more competitors than there has been previously for quality talent. United won't enjoy as much of a monopoly over the market as they have done under Ferguson.

Domestically, obviously there’s City, Chelsea and on the continent there’s Paris Saint-Germain, AS Monaco and a handful of Russian outfits to rivals the usual suspects Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for the very best players on offer.

Where Ferguson brought in Rio Ferdinand for £30 million back in 2002, Moyes is far more likely to replicate the signing of Phil Jagielka for £4 million in 2007. Whilst United fans would love to see Gareth Bale for £80-odd million, I wouldn’t bank on it. Moyes is more astute than that.

He knows what that money is worth to clubs like Everton – he knows how to get value for his money. This is no bad thing, however - in the long run, United will be in a far healthier situation financially. Especially with the FFP regulations coming in next year, it will bode well for the club's future and financial prosperity.

2) Attacking Emphasis

Despite their limited resources Everton were always the trickiest of customers. Moyes’ preference has always been to combine a combatant physicality with flair and efficiency in attack.

Everton have always been tough opponents under Moyes, especially at home. On their day, they could beat anyone. They play wide expansive football with the ball and quickly switch to a compact organized unit without it.

They press high up the pitch and combine directness with intelligent expansive football, building from the back. Moyes’ United will likely be more direct than Ferguson’s most recent title-winning team this year.

But Ferguson’s golden generation were deployed in the same way Moyes set up at Everton:

In possession, they’ll look to play wide to stretch the opposition and make space. They’ll whip crosses into dangerous areas with pint-point precision.

They’ll direct all their attacking phases through the focal point – in this case Robin van Persie – and keep coming in wave after wave like the fans sing at Old Trafford ‘attack, attack, attack!’

3) High-Tempo

They’ll be high-energy, aggressive and play at a high tempo. Without the ball, they’ll be expected to fly in to tackles, harass the opponent into individual errors, chase down every lost cause, challenge for every 50-50 and win the ball back. They won’t sit back and hold a deep line or park the bus.

With the ball, they’ll be efficient and direct – more direct than under Ferguson – that doesn’t mean they’ll play long-ball tactics, far from it. Rather they’ll play with an urgency and intensity and look to make use of possession better. Everton often operated counter-attacking tactics against the top teams.

Moyes will be less inclined to let his United sit back but there will be times when they’ll be stealthier. Ferguson’s United played with arrogance and entitlement to possession. Moyes isn’t used to that style with Everton. They’ll be expected to be more productive in possession.

4) Physicality

Everton were one of the ‘dirtiest’ teams in the league last term – their discipline record was pretty poor but that is no bad thing necessarily. Moyes will expect United to be physically dominant – they’ll be expected to do the dirty work, roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.

Whilst there’ll certainly be room for cultured flair and intricate skill, Moyes will balance that with aggressive, invasive football. As a result United will likely benefit in terms of their organization, especially from set pieces which had previously been a slight concern.

Phil Jones will be a key player under Moyes, I reckon – he’ll be tasked with patrolling the midfield along with Michael Carrick. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rise in suspensions and injuries – but it will be positive and constructive in the long run.

5) Tough Love

Finally, as they say: meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Like Ferguson, Moyes won’t suffer fools gladly. If Rooney wants to shuffle his feet over a contract or throw his toys out the pram over a substitution, he can think again. Moyes will be looking to assert his authority over his team now and he’ll happily tell Rooney where he can shove it.

Moyes will be just as much the big bad boss as Ferguson has been. If anyone steps out of line or undermines his authority, they’ll be out on their backside in no time. This is one Scotsman you don’t want to mess with. Sir Alex will have told him where he left that hairdryer of his.

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image: © Jason Gulledge

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