David Moyes Needs Time at Manchester United to Build a Team in His Image
I am surprised David Moyes is already under so much pressure at Manchester United. It feels like he's being judged far more harshly, by the media and fans, than Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City.
Moyes has barely started his succession of Sir Alex Ferguson. He's having to demand new things from everybody around him, get to know the players and understand the wildly different transfer market in which he's now dealing.
Moyes will take time to get to know the club. In terms of how his team is playing, it's quite clear that if he says he needs five or six world-class players to win the Champions League, as per the Telegraph, he's sending a message to the press and to the fans.
United may have won the league last year, but they've been slack in the transfer market over the last two years and fading. In a way, it was a good moment for Ferguson to leave.
I feel Ferguson thought Wayne Rooney had peaked and was on the way down. Moyes wanted to find out on his own if that was the case and so far he's decided there's still enough there to fight for. He was clever to get Rooney upset, even if it was an unwanted consequence, because an upset player in a World Cup year is a really good player. Wayne seems to have accepted the challenge to show the world they are wrong to think he has peaked.
Rooney is now operating at the level he needs to. He and Robin van Persie need to improve their partnership, however, if he's going to thrive in an advanced role. Or it may be time to look again at Rooney the midfielder.
Is Moyes the right man?
I know Rooney has been watching DVDs of Xavi and he gets him. He likes the way he lets players get close to him and then delivers a pass. Rooney talked to me about that a year ago. It's a fascinating situation for him—whether he chooses to adapt and become a midfielder at this point in his career. But I feel that in his form now, Moyes will let him be a forward and if he cannot keep a certain consistency I wonder if he will be offered to reinvent himself.
Rooney is far from Moyes' only consideration.
For the style he wants to play at United, Moyes needs fullbacks who go up and down, he needs centre backs who are fast. He wants aggression with and without the ball, and more pressing. I'm not sure he's sold on the old-fashioned winger.
Ultimately, Moyes would prefer quick passing in midfield and a lot of pace up front. He wants a much higher defensive line also. Once he gets these things working, you'll see the United of Moyes.
He needs new fullbacks, centre backs and midfielders first. To do that quickly when you're only just getting to know the transfer market from United's perspective is a big ask. I don't think he'll make any big signings in January, but next summer we'll start to see things happening.
Moyes needs two years to shape Ferguson's team into his. I am hopeful he's capable and I'd urge United fans to trust his judgement. It's far too early for us to take a conclusion on his mandate.
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