Five challenges for David Moyes at Manchester United

David Moyes

David Moyes tasks are numerous at Manchester United, but on the eve of the season we have pinpointed five challenges for the new manager.

Here are five areas Moyes needs to focus on...

1) Stamping his authority on the club.

Moyes will need to continue with the same sort of principles that made the club so successful under Sir Alex, but he'll also need to be his own man. He did that magnificently well at Everton on a strict transfer budget and he's already shown he's not intimidated to make tough decisions by bringing members of his ex-backroom staff from Everton, Steve Round, as an example the new assistant manager.

However ensuring the detailed knowledge of the United ethos is still part and parcel of the first team-coaching set up, by adding the weight of both Phil Neville and Ryan Giggs while the transitional period morphs. Moyes recognises there needs to be continuity as well as change.

2) Evolving the centre-back pairings

This is an area where United are very strong with a range of centre-back pairings to draw upon, but they need to make sure the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are kept as fresh as possible. In conjunction with using those experienced key centre-backs in priority games. Moyes also needs to continue to develop, providing game time to players like Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. That's a different problem to what he experienced at Everton, with a lesser size and quality in depth of the squad.

The manager will be looking for increased defensive solidity which was one of Moyes' traits at Everton. Last season's 43 goals against at United, highlighted Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Rafael, Jones and Smalling marshaled the 3rd most porous title-winning defence in the Premier League's 21 years. Stoke City as an example finishing 12 places below United having only leaked two goals more than the Red Devils. Does Moyes add more defensive steel to the backfour? 

3) Rotation-rotation-rotation.

As previously highlighted Moyes was operating with a lesser amount of players at Goodison Park so he'd try to keep the same team - squad nearly every week. You can't do that at United. The expectations and demands are too great: there's Champions League football, the Premier League and domestic cup competitions also. He needs to be versatile enough to keep players fresh while also making sure he achieves the results the club expect.

Blooding some of the younger players in the FA Cup and Capital One Cup games will encourage the fantastic under-21 league winning players to remain highly motivated that they will be given their opportunity to show their talent on the bigger platforms. As Warren Joyce's lads made a complete sweep of the domestic competitions entered, so they are good enough at a lower level, can they step up to the next level, there is only one way to find that out - play them in the FA Cup and Capital One Cup games.

Moyes needs to stop the talent drain from United in allowing them to blossom in a cultured professional manner; for what ever reason previously, halting losing players of the quality of Paul Pogba, Zeki Fryers and to a lesser extent Ravel Morrison to competitors. If he wont use the younger players, he will lose them as they want to play on the high profile stages, so must seek advice from Warren Joyce and Paul McGuinness as to who is ready to make their first team break-through at the club.  

4) Winning games in Fergie Time

United clearly won a lot of League Titles with Sir Alex, however often there was very little difference between United and their opponent - the difference was that United won key games at critical times often winning matches in injury time. This was achieved because of the belief they had in the manager and their own ability.

That's a trick hard to reproduce in the short - term, until confidence and trust is gained in Moyes, vitally-unreserved and both ways. United won 16 games last season by a one goal difference, fine margins. To further display what David Moyes has to replicate was United's never say die attitude. last season making a remarkable 11 comebacks in the Premier League from losing positions, to register 9 wins and 2 draws against.

Only Newcastle United in season 2001-02 collected more points from losing positions (34) than United's (29) last term. Goals scored in the last 10 minutes (13) equating to 15% of the total 86 goals netted. The players may no longer be motivated by Sir Alex Ferguson and the famed hairdryer, but those same players don't know how to give in and surrender. Can Moyes maintain and improve this United will never die mentality?

5) Finding more options in midfield

This is the key area as we know, the perennial chestnut the lack of a dominant midfielder which in each transfer window has failed to be addressed. Ferguson did not tackle the dilemma but with Paul Scholes finally hanging up his boots, the options in the engine room of the team are lessening. Many observers think United really need a box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Roy Keane. These players are very difficult to find, far lesser though than attempting to encourage quality players to move to another club. A tough-tackling midfielder would help in conceding goals and reduce the onus and workload placed on Michael Carrick, who is currently charged with building the teams attacks from the back, but also being asked to quell the oppositions attacks.

Carrick may have been only slightly behind Mikel Arteta (2,517) in total number of passes in the last campaign, but he was ahead of the Arsenal midfielder in the number of passes that found a team mate in the opposition half and creating chances.

If the elusive tough tackling robust defensive midfielder could be identified and signed it would further free up Carrick and Kagawa to probe at opening up tight opposition defences. By the day the transfer window is drawing closer to being slammed shut. United's rivals Manchester City, Chelsea, and Spurs have been adding excellent players to their squads, are United going to make a move in the transfer market?

Where will David Moyes invest to move the team on to the next level as his tenure begins in laying down the foundations for his and the clubs vision going forward?

Which is the biggest challenge for Moyes to address?

image: © Jason Gulledge

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