Were it not for a brief glimpse of the Manchester United of old yesterday, David Moyes would have woken up this morning under more pressure than ever. As it was, late goals from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez rescued a below-par United – the sign of champions, some would say.
But whatever you think of this version of the champions, there is no doubt the pressure of every dropped point – especially at Old Trafford – is amplified in the shadow of Moyes’ predecessor.
In time, the former Everton man will hope to create a successful legacy of his own. And in truth there is no reason why I cannot. United have given him a long-term contract and he has both inter-club-support and history on his side.
Just as Ferguson did not transform United overnight, so Moyes will take time to imbed his ethos in his players, many of whom who have grown up with the teachings of another, indefatigable man.
But comments from a managerial counterpart suggested – if only coincidently – that Moyes may only have a brief period of time in which to get it right. And that the man he replaced will always be on hand to put out fires should the need arise.
And yet surely it would only be for one job? Surely the man who went down as a legend at Old Trafford would not step into another team’s dugout now?
Asked whether he thought Ferguson would return to the game, Wenger said, “In six months we will know more about that. You cannot rule it out completely.”
So is that how long Wenger is giving Moyes to get it right? And in that time what does he need to achieve to stop people like me taking the words of one man and turning them into a reflection on another man’s position?
Wenger probably did not mean anything by his comments, and given the fanfare with which Ferguson retired last time, he is unlikely to retract on his long-considered stance.
But as some continue to doubt whether or not Moyes can even lead United into the top four given the challenges of the clubs around him, Ferguson’s shadow will always be there; perhaps reassuring him, or perhaps a threat of a quick and necessary fix.
image: © Jason Gulledge