What's the matter with Manchester United?

David Moyes Interview - 23/02/2014

Arsenal fan Thomas Williamson takes an outside look at where it's going wrong for Manchester United.

Manchester United are in one heck of a mess, just nine months on from winning a 20th League title. This season is almost certain to be trophy-less, after their shock defeat to Olympiakos on the Champions League. But why is this happening? Why is a team which won the League by eleven points last year in such a position?

Manager

David Moyes was picked because of his ability to work on a reasonably tight budget, as well as his sticking power. United saw that Jose Mourinho always spends lots of money and is apparently unable to stay at a club beyond three seasons, as well as being prone to rows. Moyes was always going to need time to make the step up from managing Everton, so that explains why he struggled in the first few months.

By now he should be starting to see an improvement, not be completely stuck.

What I think is happening is this. Moyes has never won anything bar plaudits for getting consistently good performances at Everton on a relatively tight budget. So I think that this means that the United players do not respect or fear him like they did with Sir Alex Ferguson, because of the lack of trophies on his CV. Many are much “bigger” than him in terms of records, so simply shrug their shoulders when being ranted at for bad performances. In comparison Alex Ferguson was respected in 1986 for his work at Aberdeen. We may even be seeing a repeat of what happened at Chelsea, when the players underperformed on purpose to get Andre Villas-Boas sacked. This leads into the second problem at the club - the players.

Players

When analysing United, it is important to note that Manuel Pellegrini had never won anything in Europe when he came to Manchester City, but has still got Manchester City playing outstanding football, and has won the League Cup as well as getting to the quarters of the FA cup.

So my reading of the two clubs is this: that many of the players at United, such as Rio Ferdinand, have already done so much in their careers that they lack the hunger to keep going. Many of them were bullied into playing well under Ferguson and are slacking off now- such as the central midfielders with only two goals. One of them, Michael Carrick, conducted a nonchalant interview after the defeat to Olympkiaos. He has seven medals to his name- so does he really have the motivation to try and win more? Without Ferguson breathing down their necks they have simply given up.

In comparison, many of City’s best players are at a much earlier stage in their careers. For example Sergio Aguero has only three trophies to his name, so has a motivation to want to win more.

Moyes has to be completely ruthless in getting rid of all those who don’t want to push on and win more trophies. He should consider ditching all those over thirty and replacing them with hungry young players with something to prove.

Tactics

I was in the crowd for the dire 0-0 between Arsenal and Manchester United. What surprised me was how United kept pumping up long balls, which then petered out. It is clear to me that Michael Carrick, Juan Mata, Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj would do better in a quick passing style. Previously United had come to Arsenal and run away with the game while tearing up the pitch in such a manner.

So clearly Moyes is using his extremely talented players in the wrong way

The loss of Sir Alex Ferguson

Of course some of the clubs problems are the inevitable transition from the loss of a truly unique manager, a one off. So this explains the clubs problems up until Christmas. However in my view this cannot explain all of their problems- they still do have a talented group of players who should be doing better by now.

So what is the matter with Man United? My view is that the problem is that the club has too many players who are either past it or lazy and a manager not getting the best out of his attacking line.

However as an Arsenal fan how can I not laugh at their predicament?

image: © Jenny Leigh

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