Traditional Values at Manchester United Led to Moyes Appointment
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Manchester United’s traditional values when it comes to club management have reaped their just reward over the past few weeks.
A 38th trophy for Sir Alex Ferguson in just 26 years is an awesome feat by anybody’s standards, but it could have easily been zero if he had worked under the stewardship of other less forgiving owners.
As has been oft chronicled, the "very special one" could have easily been discarded at a very early stage of his United tenure, and a great career would have ended before it began.
Folklore has it that Mark Robin’s cup winner against Nottingham Forest was the catalyst for Fergie’s redemption, although opinion is divided as to whether or not his sacking was in fact imminent.
Nevertheless, the patience of the board was rewarded, and Sir Alex set about producing a dynasty of youth development and trophy accumulation that will perhaps never be rivaled in years to come.
It is perhaps ironic that, despite winning the FA Cup in his first season and the League title last year for the first time in 44 years, Roberto Mancini bit the dust yesterday for failing to win anything this year.
Reaching an FA Cup final and coming second in the League was apparently not enough to appease his Manchester City employers. As reported by BBC Sport, the club argued that one of the reasons for his departure was a failure to “develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at this club."
Only they know what lies beneath this jargonistic statement, and it would be refreshing if they had just said what they meant in plain English (i.e. "He didn’t win anything and upset a few of our over-sensitive and overpaid players!").
United won nothing last year, yet any thought of dismissing the manager would have been considered risible.
Sir Alex had his "ups and downs" with several star players in his time, and we all know who left the club when that happened.
I cite Roy Keane, David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy and probably, if Fergy hadn’t retired, Wayne Rooney, to name but a few.
No player is bigger than the club, and no player should be bigger than the manager.
"Short fix" seems to be the modus operandi of clubs who suddenly find themselves owned by multimillionaires.
Money suddenly becomes no object in pursuit of the owner’s fulfilment of their ultimate fantasy.
Buying success can only be viewed as a short-term answer, however, as Real Madrid found out when Florentino Perez was given seemingly limitless funds to fill his team with ready-made stars heralding the beginning of the Galactico era.
They dominated the Spanish League for a few years but the stars began to lose their twinkle and Barcelona’s enviable youth policy began to bear fruit.
The rest is history, and Barcelona showed us a shining example of how to run a club effectively and economically on a long-term basis.
The appointment of David Moyes at Old Trafford was, to use a much overused colloquialism, a "no-brainer."
It could reasonably be argued that very few alternatives existed in terms of continuing the policy of long-term planning and stability.
In an article I wrote on this website last November, I listed 10 possible replacements for Sir Alex, and Moyes was my first choice.
Several other candidates including Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte are undoubtedy talented leaders but could probably only have been viewed as short term options.
Others, such as Martin O’Neil and Alan Pardew, have suffered too badly this season to have been serious contenders, and for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is universally popular with the Old Trafford faithful, the opportunity almost certainly came too soon in his managerial career.
My sole reservation concerning the appointment of Moyes is his lack of experience on the wider European stage.
Hopefully he is a fast learner and, if he surrounds himself with staff that have that knowledge, it is not an insurmountable problem.
Sir Alex’s plea to the fans to be patient with the new regime was a generous one, based probably on his own early experiences.
Let us hope, of course, that Moyes doesn’t need time and that United will go from strength to strength under his leadership.
If this doesn’t happen immediately, let us learn from the comical managerial roundabout at Chelsea and the callous dismissal of Mancini and give Moyes the time and space to forge his own dynasty at United, unfettered by the threat of the hovering axe.
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