Has David Moyes Made a Mistake With His Coaching Team at Manchester United?

Mr XSenior Writer IJuly 5, 2013

MANCHESTER - JANUARY 26:  Ryan Giggs of Man Utd celebrates with Phil Neville after scoring the first goal during the Manchester United  v West Ham FA Cup fourth round match at Old Trafford on January 26, 2003 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United and David Moyes have added Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville to the first-team coaching staff, according to the official club website. However, given the unprecedented success enjoyed by United under the guidance of Ferguson and his coaches, one must ask: Has David Moyes made a mistake in changing the coaching setup so quickly?

Moyes has moved swiftly and decisively by appointing a complete new backroom staff. United playing legends Giggs, the most decorated Premier League player of all time, and Neville will join Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden and Chris Woods in the coaching setup while Robbie Cooke will take over as chief scout.

The new group will replace Sir Alex Ferguson's stalwarts Eric Steele, Mike Phelan and Rene Meulensteen.

Phelan, Ferguson's assistant manager, and Steele had been with the Red Devils since 2008. Meulensteen had been with United since 2001. The highly respected trio were deemed as not needed at the club by Moyes. 

There is no doubting that Moyes would want the final say on who his closest aides at the club would be. On the positive side, he has brought in men he worked with and trusted at Everton. On the negative side, however, he has disrupted the coaching continuity at the club.

As far as the players are concerned, they have won almost everything the game can offer. The same cannot be said of the new coaching setup which have won nothing.

There is a fine line between victory and defeat at the highest levels of the game.

Ferguson, during his 26 years as manager, proved a master in matters off the field as well as on it. His backroom changes were almost seamless, and as such there was never a detrimental effect to his team.

The Scot appointed Brian Kidd as assistant coach in 1991 as Archie Knox's successor. Kidd was a huge and popular success with the players. They loved his meticulous approach to the game. He also had a massive influence over United's youth system and played a significant role in setting up the system we see today.

When Kidd moved on to Blackburn Rovers in 1998, he left a growing empire. Ferguson immediately replaced him with one of the highest-rated coaches in the country, Steve McClaren. 

McClaren joined United without missing a beat and helped them to three titles in a row between 1999 and 2001. The year McClaren left, Arsenal won the title. Recognizing that he needed a top-level coach as assistant, Ferguson then hired Carlos Quieroz. 

The Portuguese joined United with a superb reputation as one of Europe's finest coaches. Within his first season he helped the Red Devils to yet another Premier League title. At the end of the season Quieroz departed for pastures new as head coach at Real Madrid. He would return again in 2004 and help United to another two titles.

Phelan was then appointed in 2008. Since then United have won three more Premier League titles, the point being that continuity at coaching level is just as important as continuity in management and at playing level.

The percentages between winning and losing are so slim that a slight change at coaching level can put a club back years. This summer, after winning 13 titles under a close-knit coaching regime, United have replaced almost the senior coaching team.

David Moyes has sacked a team with a proven track record, a team that have been proven to use the right methods, systems and training tools, and replaced them with a team who have never had a single success.

There is no doubting that Everton, under Moyes' management, punched above their weight. The highest they ever finished under him, however, was fourth in 2005. Yet they also finished 17th in 2004.

Everton, under Moyes, always proved a tough team to play against. They played the game under the same credo as United under Ferguson; Self-sacrifice before self-indulgence was that shared motto.

However, Everton were always guaranteed to have trouble at one end of the season. They either started or finished very badly. This, ultimately, comes down to the manager and the coaches under his stewardship. They always suffered with a heavy injury list and one must ask if Moyes' training methods were to blame. 

Now, at United, Moyes has jettisoned the tried and trusted coaches who knew exactly how to develop a team and train them and replaced them with a team who have never enjoyed a success of any kind.

One only needs to look at Manchester City's example to see how the manager's approach can affect the team as a whole.

Manchester City won the Premier League title in the 2011-12 season. Their victory came with thanks to goal difference over United—and Sergio Aguero, of course.

Yet last season Roberto Mancini became embroiled in so many situations at City that he literally took his eye off first-team affairs. City finished a miserable 11 points behind United, as a result and the Italian was eventually sacked.

The end result of Mancini's lack of attention to the first team was a drop-off in statistical output of less than two percent from their title-winning season.

In this table, using statistics from EPL Index, one can easily see where City fell away.

EPL Index Stats



Goals Conceded



Ground 50/50s



Aerial 50/50s






Passing Forward



Atk Zone Passing



Shots on Target



Shot Conversion



Clear Cut Conversion



Points Per Game



The point behind this statistical analysis of Manchester City between 2011-12 and 2012-13 is that all it took was a minute statistical drop-off for City to lose their league title—badly.

David Moyes has succeeded the most prolific manager of all time—that is tough enough. Significantly, he inherited a major part of the most prolific coaching team of all time, and somehow he has decided to dispense with them.

If United lose the Premier League title next season, they will know that the foundations to that loss were planted by their manager when he decided on a quick fix instead of following his predecessors' tried and trusted methods.

Giggs and Neville may grow into top coaches and maybe even top managers someday. This season, however, United need a guy like Phelan or Meulensteen to ease the transition from Ferguson to Moyes.

As the season progresses, Moyes training methods are guaranteed to come under the spotlight, particularly if their season does not go as planned.

While the world focuses its attention on whether Wayne Rooney will stay at Old Trafford, they might be better served at paying attention to the unheralded coaches who he might be joining.

Statistics provided by Manchester United, PhysioRoom.com and the Premier League

Will David Moyes rue the day he sacked Ferguson's coaching team?

Leave your comments, suggestions and Man Utd thoughts and predictions in the section below.

You can follow me on Twitter @WillieGannon

And listen to me on the Hold the Back Page podcast.


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