Sir Alex Ferguson advised David Moyes to retain the club’s coaching staff upon his appointment at Old Trafford but was ignored by the club’s new manager, according to former coach Eric Steele.
Steele was one of the men to be shown the door as Moyes ushered in his own lieutenants from Everton. The goalkeeping coach claims Ferguson asked the Scot not to change a winning formula, but his plea fell on deaf ears.
Steele is quoted in fanzine United We Stand, via Sky Sports:
You had the United perspective—the manager saying, 'Keep what we've got, keep the continuity, work with them and they'll guide you through. You're taking on a massive machine here. You've gone from Marks and Spencer's to Harrods.'
Then there's David's viewpoint, which I understand. I know him professionally. I know his work ethic, his hands-on approach.
Steele, Mike Phelan (assistant manager) and Rene Meulensteen (first-team coach) were all sent packing by Moyes, who has overseen United’s worst start for 24 years.
Seven points from their opening six games leaves the champions in the bottom half of the table, already creating pressure on the new manager following an era of success under Ferguson.
The decision to make sweeping changes to the entire coaching setup is one that leaves Moyes open to fire.
Having spent over 10 years at Everton, he will be aware of the old Liverpool boot room, which produced decades of success in the 1970s and '80s by simply maintaining the club’s ethos.
When Bill Shankly left, Bob Paisley was promoted to continue his work. Paisley was replaced by another Liverpool coach in Joe Fagan, before Kenny Dalglish carried on the club’s tradition as a player-manager.
The end of Liverpool’s domination of English football came when they brought in Graeme Souness—a former player, but a man who had been outside the club. Like Moyes, Souness opted for sweeping changes, and the club’s ethos was one of the things to find its way to the exit door.
By losing Ferguson, United were already losing the most iconic figure in the club’s history. To remove his coaches too may well have swiped the crutches from under the club.
Steele commented: "There were massive changes—the manager, chief executive, [Paul] Scholes retiring and the coaches.”
Moyes’ methods will need time before a final judgement can be made, but he himself has confessed United have lacked sharpness in the opening months of the season.
Over-training is one way to lessen a player’s sharpness, and Moyes is known to demand a high intensity in training sessions.
Players like Rio Ferdinand and Robin van Persie, who rely heavily upon specific training regimes to maintain their fitness, have suffered early in the campaign. The Dutchman has missed games through injury, while Ferdinand was woefully exposed by West Brom and Manchester City.
Moyes will hope his single-mindedness, which to be fair was a character trait of Ferguson, will pay off in the long run. However, he currently appears to have taken a winning formula and messed with it.