The five big mistakes Moyes has made at Manchester United

David Moyes

Manchester United's boss may wish he could revisit a decision or two given the club's current predicament.

Having been in charge of Manchester United for just seven months, David Moyes once again finds himself under severe pressure from the press and some sections of the club's support.

The FA Cup exit at home to Swansea was one of the clearest examples yet of how different the club is under Moyes, and is particularly pertinent given that Ferguson only once exited the FA Cup in the third round in his entire spell at the club.

Hindsight is a wonderful gift to have, and it is entirely possible that the 50-year-old may look back at certain events that were addressed incorrectly or not addressed at all with some regret. That these were always likely to be the key decisions in his reign, and that at present he seems to have gotten them all wrong, means Moyes, and perhaps others at the club, are culpable.

We consider five of the key mistakes Moyes has made during his time at United to date: 

Dismissal of key staff

It is true that every manager would wish to bring their own staff into a new club. For this reason, it was not a surprise that Moyes brought in his own men such as Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden, Phil Neville and Chris Woods. However, given the size of the change as Ferguson left, Moyes would have been advised to maintain some semblance of the previous regime given its success. Instead he dismissed Mike Phelan, Eric Steele and Rene Meulensteen, with inexperienced coaches coming in such as Neville and Ryan Giggs.

Pre-season should have been a testing ground

United could and perhaps should have organised a pre-season to suit the huge changes that had undergone the club. Lining up friendlies to test the squad would have been an indicator as to just how the team was taking to Moyes's tactics. As it was, of their seven friendly games, United won just two, despite only playing one game that would have been competitive, against Sevilla at Old Trafford - a game they lost.

United performed reasonably well in August, but lost three games in September with the transfer window shut. If they would have measured themselves against tougher opposition as early as possible they may have identified problems earlier.

Limited transfer activity

Considering that Moyes was so willing to make changes within the club's staff, it is very strange that he sought to persevere with what was widely acknowledged as a squad that could be strengthened. The signing of just one central midfielder and no left-back is part of the reason United are struggling so much now. They have also experienced problems on the wing and issues covering at centre-back and right-back.

There is a lot of deadwood at the club that could have been moved on, yet no first-team players left in the summer. The fact that United sought to do business late on in the window shows that the club knew of areas to strengthen yet tried to play it smart with last-minute deals. Fabio Coentrao would have been an outstanding signing, but the club dallied with that one to the extent that it did not go through.

Poorly chosen transfers

Following on from that, the one high-profile transfer to arrive was Marouane Fellaini, for £27.5 million from Moyes' former club. Not only were there rumours that United paid more than needed after missing a deadline to meet a lower release clause, but there were also general doubts that Fellaini was the kind of midfielder needed to link the Red's midfield and attack.

This was followed by the Belgian coming out and saying that his favourite position to play was defensive midfield, surely not where Moyes would have looked to play him. On top of all that, Fellaini has had a disastrous season so far, contributing a red card and just one assist in his eleven appearances which were universally disappointing. There were even times when 40-year-old Ryan Giggs and defender Phil Jones were preferred in midfield. All while Ross Barkley has been showing how perfect he would have been for Old Trafford back on Merseyside. Moyes only signed one player this summer, and it was almost certainly the wrong midfielder.

Tactical issues

Sticking with the squad he inherited from Ferguson meant that Moyes would have to manipulate it as successfully as his predecessor. To put it simply, he hasn't. Antonio Valencia at full-back, Smalling at right-back, Jones in midfield alongside a underwhelming Cleverley, getting the most out of an aging Giggs or difficult Nani - Moyes has faltered at all of these things, and his perseverence with them show something of a tactical ineptitude and inability to change things around in a way that can impress.

Even in the games United have won, there have been few excellent performances. The emergence of Adnan Januzaj and reemergence of Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney have been the few bright points for the club; but it would be difficult to argue that Moyes' tactical application was the reason for these.   

First and foremost United need to decide if they are going to back their man. If they do, Moyes should spend big on a midfielder of real quality, and arguably bring in cover all across the back four. A world-class winger is also missing at the club, and of course, that would also cost a lot of money.

There are plenty of players to sell to free up some cash, but the question is: would the best players in the world still want to come to a faltering and Ferguson-less Manchester United?

image: © Jason Gulledge

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch