Sir Alex Ferguson's To-Do List Should He Return as Manchester United Manager
Two wins in a row have undoubtedly released some of the pressure that was building on Moyes. However, with the upcoming Manchester derby, what if a humiliating defeat to their cross-city rivals led to his sacking?
With just seven league games and a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich remaining, it's not an impossibility that Sir Alex would be willing to take the reins one last time.
This is still fairly unlikely of course, but what would be on the agenda for United's most successful manager if he attempted to salvage something from United's least successful season in a generation?
Build a Working Relationship with Wayne Rooney, or Make a Contingency Plan
From apparently being ready to leave the club in August 2013, per The Guardian, Wayne Rooney has become an integral part of David Moyes' Manchester United. With 15 goals and 14 assists in the 2013/14 season so far, per Whoscored.com, and another goal-of-the-season contender under his belt, Rooney has made a key contribution.
Perhaps even more significantly, he has signed a £300,000-per-week contract, per BBC Sport. Given the value of that contract, isolating the player is not a realistic option.
Would it be possible for the two men to repair their relationship? In October 2013, Sir Alex told Geoff Shreeves of Sky Sports that Rooney was angry Ferguson had suggested he had made a transfer request, but that he had, in fact, made a verbal request to leave.
Subsequently, Rooney dismissed Sir Alex's claims that he was suffering from a lack of fitness last season, per Sky Sports.
Rooney also said, per the Daily Mail, again in October 2013, that he had been unhappy last season due to being played out of position.
These are only the public statements. It does not take an enormous leap of imagination to infer that things between the two men had reached breaking point.
If Sir Alex were to return, would he swallow his pride and find a way to work with the resurgent Rooney, or would he deem him surplus to requirements and try to find a buyer? Given his history, the latter seems more likely.
Either way, resolving the Rooney situation should be at the top of Sir Alex's to-do list.
Make a Plan for Bayern Munich
Manchester United only have one prize worth winning left to compete for. Whilst Europa League qualification might technically be worth aiming for in the league, the benefits of that are limited at best.
However, United could still qualify for next season's Champions League by winning it this season. It is, of course, unlikely.
Manchester United are the lowest-ranked side on the Bleacher Report's own power rankings of the last eight teams left in the competition. Whilst any list like that is open to debate, what is not is that United's domestic-league position is the lowest of any of the sides involved.
And the first test awaiting United might be the toughest of all. Bayern Munich, current European Champions, with the Bundesliga already won in all but maths, are a daunting prospect.
Last season, Ferguson very nearly pulled off one of his greatest managerial feats as United came incredibly close to matching Real Madrid blow-for-blow. His game plan almost worked to perfection, only coming undone in the wake of Nani's sending off.
Before that, United had the best of the game, on the back of the hard-won draw in the away leg.
Munich represent a similar level of test to United, and if they are to be beaten, Ferguson needs to come up with a plan to defeat Pep Guardiola, something he did not manage when Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona.
He would not have a lot of time to do it, but if you could chose anyone to attempt it, Ferguson would be high on the list.
Get the Best out of United's Playmakers
The recent 2-0 win against West Ham was a fine example how playing with multiple playmakers in the side can be effective. Given the amount of talent on offer at United, one of the most exciting things about Ferguson returning would be that the style of play may consistently mirror something approaching the West Ham game, rather than, say, the "game of 81 crosses" against Fulham (stat courtesy of Squawka.com).
Although Sir Alex's sides erred toward the functional, rather than the electrifying, for the last few years of his career, the style of play under Moyes has been a significant part of the difficulties many United fans have had with him. The "score one more than them" approach of the first half of the 2012/13 season would be a welcome tonic.
Make His Part in Choosing a Successor Quieter This Time
The fact that David Moyes' position as Manchester United manager was primarily the choice of Sir Alex Ferguson is a matter of record, with the club's official website announcing Moyes' appointment by saying "Manchester United Board unanimously approves the recommendation of Sir Alex Ferguson."
His position as "The Chosen One" was celebrated in an ill-advised banner, which has recently come under almost as much pressure as the manager it depicts, per the Daily Mail.
The backing of Sir Alex might be Moyes' saving grace with a section of United's support, who are still quoting Ferguson's on-pitch plea from August 2013, to "stand by your new manager," but the premise of this article assumes Ferguson has returned and will have to pick a manager all over again.
Ferguson's recommendation would still be a vital part of the recruitment process, but, this time, he would be well advised to make his recommendations in private.
Presenting the succession as the decision of the board would reduce pressure on the next manager to be "The Chosen One," an almost impossible billing.
Don't Forget to Buy Some Midfielders
If you will allow me some informality here, I will address imaginary Sir Alex personally. I hope he will not find it a liberty.
"Sir Alex. Can I call you Alex? No? Okay, no, fair enough, you've earned it. Sir Alex, we all miss you. You were great. You won all that stuff. '99. That was brilliant! Football, blooming heck, right? Close enough.
And last season! Wow! That open-top bus parade? Emotional stuff.
Imagine, in 2005 I was one of those who thought your time might be coming to an end. How wrong were we? Who knew that young Portuguese lad would turn out like that? Well, you did, obviously. You're brilliant.
But...um...now...don't take this the wrong way...there was just one thing I wanted to say. Is that hair-dryer plugged in? Hope not. If I could just move this cup out of your kicking range...Ok. Here goes.
Please buy some midfielders. I know you don't like doing it but we really do still need some. No, Tom Cleverley is not the new Andres Iniesta, he's just not. No, Paul Scholes isn't going to come out of retirement again. We need an actual new one. Have a look in the papers. We've been linked with all of them.
Just pick a couple that take your fancy and sign them up. With you at the helm, that's pretty much all that's missing."