It’s an age-old football debate. Does a manager need time, or does time take all managers?
Some say that a boss needs time to implement his regime, win respect, and build a culture. Others say that as time passes, players get comfortable, stop listening to the manager, and work rate goes down.
How much time does a manager deserve in a new job? How long does it take before a new boss can be fairly judged?
This is an especially pertinent topic right now, because Manchester United are falling apart under a new manager.
When a seldom-used, little-known center back from Fulham starts taking pot-shots at Manchester United’s tactics after taking a point away from Old Trafford after building an apartment in their own defensive third in the second half, something is very wrong.
Players want out. The captain of United, Nemanja Vidic, who has lifted two Premier League trophies, is leaving at the end of the season. Other decorated defenders like Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are also probably out the door. Robin Van Persie may want out too.
And good luck trying to sell Wayne Rooney on the first game of his new deal being a July Europa League qualifier somewhere in Kazakhstan.
The rats are leaving a sinking ship. There’s really no point in having Juan Mata if you’re going to swing in crosses to forwards all day. Mata’s true brilliance will never shine in that setup.
It’s a quick fall from grace and a quicker fall from power in the world of top European football.
I feel for Moyes. There was no way he possibly could have been prepared for the pressure that comes with leading Man. United.
From the moment the story about Sir Alex Ferguson telling Moyes to come to his house and saying to him: “I’m retiring, and you’re the new Manchester United manager” came out, it was always going to be impossible for this Scot to match the monster expectation which the previous Scot placed upon his head.
Moyes also wasn’t prepared for how much managing United would need. The team he inherited is, after all, laden with veterans and under Ferguson, it looked like they coached themselves.
Moyes has lamented that lack of spirit and winning impetus in this United team, and I’m sure he expected things to be different.
This team won the title in a landslide last year, and they’ve played some baffling football over this season, incompetence at the helm or not. But the importance of management and coaching cannot be overstated.
Is it fair to say that Ferguson made the wrong choice? That Moyes should go? It goes back to the first question – how much time does a manager need and deserve?
I’d say Moyes gets a year and a half. United is a prideful club, and they like that they base their success off stability and continuity. Moyes got a six year deal, the hierarchy that watched Sir Alex for 26 years is going to give the new man more than six months.
Speaking of Fergie – is he willing to admit that he made the wrong choice? Not only is the man on the board of directors, he had a huge role – possibly the leading role – in hiring Moyes.
To admit that that call was wrong would be to swallow a whole lot of pride, something Sir Alex has never liked doing.
So Moyes will get his time. It means a lot to United. A year and a half is three transfer windows, two preseasons, about 70 games, and at some point, every manager must produce a reason for everyone to believe.
If Moyes made this start with a Chelsea or Manchester City, he’d be gone already. It is interesting to look back to the first time Ferguson retired in 2003, when he didn’t appoint his successor. Then, United tabbed the England manager Sven Goren Erickson to take over.
The laid-back Swede is, of course, a polar opposite to Moyes. I’d venture to guess it was the influence of the decade that resulted when Ferguson stayed on, and Ferguson himself that made United change course when looking for the mortal to replace the legend.
United fans and pundits sticking by Moyes will point to the most overused example of managerial management in football – the four years that Ferguson got before he won his first trophy, and the oft-reported fact that his reign and all that followed came down to success in a third round FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest.
But what that story doesn’t tell is how Ferguson took over a team in the relegation zone in November 1986, turned them around to finish 11th, and then finished second in his first full season in charge. The silverware didn’t pour in for another few years, but Ferguson’s talent was obvious.
He earned the time he got. Moyes may get his year and a half, and one school of thinking says he should. But by the end of this season, will he have earned the chance to lead the biggest sporting entity in the world for another campaign?
What exactly did Moyes do at Everton to deserve this job? He’s Fergie’s boy – one look at Moyes celebration after United took the lead against Fulham, pointing towards the directors’ box – says that.
It’s an Everton season from United. Not terrible, not brilliant, but decent – a battle to make the Europa League.
The fall from grace happens quickly indeed. No one fears Moyes’ team, or Old Trafford anymore.
As for Fulham, the latest team to start the questions again about an overmatched manager fighting for a job that he never should have gotten, they’re certainly doomed this season.
After all, they dropped points against Manchester United.