Manchester United's Short-Term Rebuild Could Harm Their Long-Term Vision

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentMay 9, 2014

BORDEAUX, FRANCE - OCTOBER 21:  Louis Van Gaal of FC Bayern Muenchen looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Bordeaux and FC Bayern Muenchen at the Stade Chaban-Delmas on October 21, 2009 in Bordeaux, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Football is a short-term business.

The rewards are too great and penalties for failure too severe for it to be anything else. 

It's why managers who work tirelessly to get their club promoted into the Premier League are sacked a few months later.

It shouldn't be a surprise that of the three clubs promoted from the Championship last season, two got rid of their managers. 

It can happen to anyone. Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea just six months after winning the Champions League. 

Manuel Pellegrini only took over at Manchester City last summer, but he is already the eighth longest-serving manager in the Premier League. It tells its own story.

Even Manchester United, held up as a beacon of hope for those who think football clubs should look beyond next Saturday, discovered this season how hard it is to choose stability.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 09:  David Moyes, manager of Manchester United looks on during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Manchester United at Allianz Arena on April 9, 2014 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

That was the plan. When they gave David Moyes a six-year contract they fully expected to honour it. But that was before the disappointments. So many disappointments.

The trouble for any manager is that a long-term plan has to be backed-up by short-term success. 

It's all very well chucking a load of homegrown kids into the first-team. But if the team isn't winning, the goodwill isn't going to last very long. Just ask Paul Lambert.

United have always tried to produce their own players. It's become part of their identity. But it's no coincidence that the two managers best known for it, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson, enjoyed long reigns at Old Trafford.

They married long-term goals with short-term gains. They felt confident enough to trust young players because they were secure in their jobs. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Ex-United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on from the stands prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Cardiff City at Old Trafford on January 28, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mi
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The academy Ferguson helped build at Carrington is still producing. James Wilson is the latest to announce himself after two goals on his debut against Hull. 

But it's debatable whether Ryan Giggs would have made the bold decision to start with Wilson on Tuesday night if his job, or United's season, had depended on the result. 

Giggs knows he won't be manager next season, and United have nothing to play for. Consequently, 18-year-old Wilson and 20-year-old Tom Lawrence were thrown in at the deep end. 

But the minute United sacked Moyes, they showed they value short-term success above anything else. It is something Louis van Gaal—if and when he takes over—will be aware of.

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23:  FC Bayern Muenchen head ccoach Louis van Gaal looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Inter Milan v FC Bayern Muenchen on February 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

He will be charged with getting United back in the Champions League—at the very least. And that's not a climate conducive to developing players.

Van Gaal has a history of putting his trust in academy graduates. He's been successful with it at Ajax and Bayern Munich, in particular.

But it won't be his first thought when he walks through the doors at Carrington. How can it be? In the short-term, he will be judged by the games he wins and trophies he collects. He's managed enough big clubs to know that.

At 62 years old, it is difficult to see the Dutchman as a long-term appointment. He will be expected to rebuild the squad with new arrivals and get United back into a position to challenge for titles.


His record suggests he's capable of doing it. But it may come at the cost of the long-term vision championed by Busby and Ferguson.