The new United manager signed a contract that will take him into the summer of 2019 as he undertakes the daunting challenge of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.
When Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford in 1986, he too began the slow and arduous process of acquiring the building blocks that would come to eventually win the treble at the peak of their powers in 1999.
Moyes now inherits a number of Ferguson’s best players but many of them will over the course of his contract either retire or see a reduction in their functionality and capacity to play top-level football week in week out.
The first member of Ferguson’s key personnel that Moyes must replace is the already retired Paul Scholes. The English midfielder, probably the best of his generation, has giant boots to fill even for such a slightly built man.
Moyes had already recognised the need for an adequate replacement – demonstrated by his pursuit of Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera this summer. In January, Moyes needs to pull out all the stops to sign a player in that role with a similar quality. I would imagine the like of Juan Mata, Koke, and Marco Veratti could be potential targets as well as Herrera still and perhaps Miralem Pjanic. This role is of utmost importance and urgency.
Next up is the nearly 40-year-old Ryan Giggs who was undoubtedly one of the greatest products of United’s youth academy. Initially a left-winger, Giggs assumed something of a central midfield role later on in his career at Old Trafford. He’ll likely retire at the end of this season and to replace him, perhaps a young upstart like Ross Barkley or Thomas Ince or, venturing abroad to Germany, Max Meyer.
Is has become clear this term that Rio Ferdinand has lost a yard of pace and at 34, who could begrudge him that? When he was signed by Ferguson, he was the best young(ish) centre-back in England – Moyes already has Phil Jones but perhaps importing Everton’s Phil Jagielka or Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross would do the trick.
Meanwhile, United captain Nemanja Vidic isn’t getting any younger and, in reality, he’s not getting any better either – perhaps Moyes could be tempted by a younger incarnation of the Serbian along the lines of 24-year-old Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund or Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay.
Meanwhile, it looks increasingly likely Moyes will replace vice-captain Patrice Evra in 2014 – we all know his top target is Leighton Baines but perhaps a younger Luke Shaw of Southampton or even Fabio Coentrao of Real Madrid would be long-term signings.
Nani isn’t all that old but he’s been linked with an exit from Old Trafford for well over a year – he was intended as a genuine replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo but never really reached the quality, consistency or technical level of his Portugal teammate.
Moyes has Adnan Januzaj to fulfil some of those aspirations as well as Wilfried Zaha but perhaps a player like Benfica youngster Ivan Cavaleiro (who averages a goal every two games at present) or Porto youngster Ricardo. There are of course young Britons like James Ward-Prowse, Will Hughes and Callum McManaman if Moyes would like to keep a British core.
Ashley Young is another player who seems to have had his day – he had a great first season at United but went off the boil in recent years. Andros Townsend, Angel Di Maria and perhaps even Marco Rues would represent a significant improvement on Young and would give United back their width and threat from wide areas which they’ve lacked recently.
Anderson is about a useful as an ashtray on a motorbike these days and is another one who failed to fulfil his potential at Old Trafford, even under Ferguson – Moyes needs a genuinely dangerous creative presence in his midfield and someone who can actually change a game when he comes off the bench. Perhaps the likes of Wellington Nem, Adryan, Fred, or Ademilson could interest the boss.
Darren Fletcher has been a loyal and committed servant to United and his illness in the last year has been a real loss to the team on the pitch and in the dressing room. He’s nearing recovery but, at 29 and with a very serious bowel condition his ability to be the leader and force he has been will likely be significantly reduced.
United had been linked with Kevin Strootman who would be the ideal for Moyes’ midfield but perhaps the boss’ young compatriot James McArthur could become that kind of presence in the middle of the park.
And finally, even though he’s only just arrived, Robin van Persie is 30 years of age and will likely be less and less efficient or effective over the next five years – maybe, not – but eventually Moyes will need to think about bringing in a player that can replicate his impact – Robert Lewandowski would be as close to a like-for-like for the Dutchman or perhaps his young Netherlands hopefuls Memphis Depay or Luc Castaignos who have been impressing in the Eredivisie.
image: © Magnus D