When a side as dominant as Manchester United enter a period of great unease and transition, one thing that is imperative for a loyal fan not to do, is panic.
As is often the case with a successor to a popular regime, the chances of the new man living up to the lofty expectations of a fanbase that are familiar with success are slim.
In the case of the Red Devils, whoever was going to take the mantle from Sir Alex Ferguson upon his retirement probably faced one of the greatest managerial challenges in the history of English football—at least in regards to the severe levels of pressure placed upon him.
David Moyes was that unluckily lucky candidate who was given one of the most coveted positions in sport, at the aforementioned price of constant scrutiny and judgement.
As many could have probably predicted, the English champions have looked far from the side that ran away with the EPL last season—already slumping down the table, and finding themselves sitting eight points behind current surprise package and Premier League leaders Arsenal.
Naturally, this has split opinions on Moyes’ ability to lead a club like United.
There were always going to be doubters, straight from Day 1. While many fans chose to overlook the lack of trophies that the Scot had accumulated during his lengthy tenure with a talented Everton side, there were probably more than a few who secretly harboured genuine concern over Moyes’ inexperience at the very top of the game.
Having had little to no real Champions League experience (a duo of play-off games against Villareal in 2005 being his only past taste of the tournament) and never steering the Toffees above a solitary fourth place spot in the same season, there were undoubtedly glaring omissions that one might expect of a United boss on David’s CV.
So with all this in mind, was David Moyes really the correct choice of replacement for a figure as iconic as Sir Alex?
In truth, that question remains to be answered. At this stage of the season it is far too soon to be deciding whether or not Moyes can cut it at an elite English club.
While results have been poor, it is crucial that rather than acting hastily and simply ousting a manager who is slowly becoming a scapegoat for a severely underperforming team, the United board sticks by their man.
When Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at the club back in 1986, United would go on to win no silverware for the first six years of his management.
While the two clubs in questions are incomparable in their nature (The United of 86 being a higher-mid-table side, as opposed to the current world-class team) it is still incredibly telling that the Red Devils board and supporters were so patient with Fergie—a man who was brought in after his great success with Aberdeen on the European stage.
Results were not expected immediately, but no United fan should kid themselves in thinking that the acquisition of an already proven top coach like Sir Alex was a fortunate piece of business. The club had a very solid idea in mind of what they wanted to achieve and where they wanted to be in the English setup.
It would take them six years to achieve that goal.
This persistence and loyalty to Sir Alex—who no doubt would have initially been seen as something of a flop—was what led to the side being the powerhouse we now see before us.
United stuck by Fergie, and as a result he will now go down in history as one of the greatest managers in the history of world sport.
Okay, so perhaps David Moyes won’t be reaching those same near God-like levels; but he can undoubtedly maintain the dominance that Sir Alex built around the club if he is given the time to do so.
This season should always have been “ignored” by United fans.
By that, I mean that anyone believing such a monumental shift of power at the club wouldn’t have a drastic effect on the performance on the pitch, was probably naively fooling themselves.
So long as Moyes steers the club to a top-six finish, then fans should be satisfied with the mediocrity that was always going to follow the year after Sir Alex’s retirement.
It’s incredibly annoying when your side is unable to beat the likes of West Brom or Southampton at home. To many, it probably looks like the beginning of the end for the club as England’s unbeatable king.
However, if Moyes is given this season to build, and two more transfer windows (winter and next summer) to really get things right (again, let’s not forget that he was barely at the club two months when the window closed—hardly enough time to find his feet and get genuine top deals completed), then United will not find themselves losing touch with in the race for future Premier League glory.
When a club has been as successful as United have been for a quarter of a century, it breeds idleness and expectancy among its supporters.
This exact issue is why some fans have been flagged up as “plastic” by a footballing community that has become envious of their success.
For those who so quickly jump on the anti-Moyes bandwagon when the team drops a few silly points, that label is only being proven accurate.
A loyal United fan would not be so quick to judge if they really understood the immense pressure that David Moyes is coming under.
However hard it is, however poor some of the team’s results are this year, it is imperative that United follow the mantra of consistency at the club. Only then can Moyes continue to improve and eventually get United back to the powerhouse that their fans know and love.
If this takes a year, or even two, then United fans will just have to grin and bear it.