Manchester United’s two-legged tie against Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable Bayern Munich serves as a stark reminder that David Moyes lacks the winning mentality of his Spanish counterpart, or indeed any other top-class manager.
Moyes’ comments in press conferences and post-match interviews range from mildly concerning to utterly perplexing, and his words after Tuesday’s humiliating defeat at home to Manchester City were unsettling for United fans.
It’s obviously a lesser concern given United’s on-pitch failures, but it is nonetheless alarming that United are being led by a manager who doesn’t seem to have a cutthroat winning attitude.
United Must “Aspire” to be Like City, Says Moyes
United’s 3-0 loss to City, compounded by the meek performance that went with it, left Moyes in a difficult position in his post-match interview.
There was very little he could say that would soften the blow or alleviate pressure following the defeat. But what he did say was unwise, with Sky Sports picking up his comments:
I think we've played a very good side and it's the sort of standard and level we need to try and aspire to get ourselves to at this moment in time. I think we need to play better. We're needing to come up a couple of levels at the moment and we're not quite there.
Here’s the difference: Sir Alex Ferguson said quite the opposite. Following United’s narrow 4-3 win over City in 2009, Ferguson labelled the blue half of Manchester as “noisy neighbours,” per Mark Ogden of The Telegraph.
Drawing comparisons between Ferguson and Moyes is somewhat unfair, but in this case it reinforces that Moyes doesn’t share the relentless, unforgiving winning mentality that Ferguson possessed. It’s only logical that such a different attitude would affect the players.
Moyes’ Negative Attitude Won’t Win Trophies
Moyes’ comments after the Manchester derby were only the latest in a series of ill-considered statements made in front of the world’s media. And that’s important because it’s questionable that he has the right attitude to challenge across four fronts in the hunt for silverware.
No manager of a trophy-winning club should ever say “we’re going to have to make ourselves harder to beat,” which is exactly what Moyes said after United’s 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, per FourFourTwo. That only added to his pre-match assertion that Liverpool were favourites, per BBC Sport.
Close observers of United press conferences and post-match interviews will be all too aware of words like “try” and “hopefully” cropping up whenever Moyes talks to the media, which is significant because it is not characteristic of a winner.
Contrast Moyes’ comments to Jose Mourinho's. Mourinho said that it would be “unacceptable” for Chelsea to endure a trophyless season, per David Hytner of The Guardian. It’s a question of mentality and, seemingly, Moyes doesn’t share the approach of two of the Premier League’s most successful managers.
Is David Moyes a Winner?
Drab displays on the field of play are one thing, but equally weak and half-hearted comments off it won’t do Moyes any favours. And you have to question what sort of effect it has on the players; they must be consciously aware of it all.
But it’s important to temper such an argument by making it clear that Moyes’ comments are not the be all and end all of his managerial reign. They only become problematic if they have an adverse effect on his players.
And so, with time, there is a distinct possibility that Moyes could learn how to talk like a winner, but it might already be too late for that.
His one saving grace is that the fans at Old Trafford have yet to turn against him, but when that does happen, his days will surely be numbered.
All Moyes can do is prove he is a winner, both on and off the pitch.