Old Trafford legend could help under-fire Moyes with public show of support, but has not done so at present. Would it be the right thing to do?
After Manchester United’s final home win over SwanseaCity last season, Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager with one clear message to the club’s massed supporters: that they must stand behind David Moyes.
“When we had bad times here, everyone stood by me and now your job is to stand by your new manager,” said Ferguson. They were prophetic words.
By and large, those fans have done so. Despite this most painful of transitional seasons, most level-headed United supporters recognise that Moyes needs more than half a year to continue his work, and turn a less than world class side into one challenging for the Premier League.
And yet there remains discomfort among other supporters, who firmly believe that Moyes is out of his depth. They want him out and someone else in, preferably a manager with significant experience of winning trophies – a Jose Mourinho-type character.
You can’t help but feel that the weight of the world would be lifted from Moyes’s aching shoulders by one message of support from Ferguson.
Anything along the lines of: “We all knew David would need time, but stick with him, I picked him and firmly believe he’s the right man for the job,” would act as a rallying cry from the man who still commands the respect of every single United fan. It would also put to bed any notion that Moyes and Ferguson’s relationship less than harmonious.
Instead, there has been silence from Ferguson. Players, managers and pundits have lined up to voice their support for Moyes, including key squad members such as Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, but Moyes’s predecessor continues to be seen rather than heard.
And how often he is seen – every single home match, to be precise. Not a game goes by at Old Trafford without a shot of Moyes standing uncomfortably on the touchline, the camera then switching to Ferguson in the stand, dressed all in black. The Godfather in uncomfortable retirement. Moyes can practically feel Ferguson’s breath down the back of his neck.
Surely Ferguson must recognise his own influence. Privately, he may well still support Moyes, whom he hand-picked as his successor. But why not make it public? Perhaps he feels to interfere would be to destabilise Moyes’s own authority on the touchline.
Or perhaps Ferguson, like the rest of us, is wondering whether he has made a monumental error of judgement in appointing the former Everton man. Perhaps, also, he could consider the state of the team he left Moyes, which was far from packed with world-class players.
Whatever his thinking, he could ease the tension surrounding the club with a show of support for the manager and players. Would it be seen as a dreaded 'vote of confidence', or an undermining of the new manager? That may just be what holds him back.
image: © marcel sigg