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David Moyes Proves Long-Term Strategy No Longer Right for Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 22:  Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson gestures to his watch during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on April 22, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Rob BlanchetteFeatured Columnist IVNovember 28, 2016

Now that the dust has settled on the furniture and the carpet looks clean and tidy after a Dutch power-wash, David Moyes has finally reemerged from the shadows and had his diluted say on Manchester United and his failed stewardship.

The Scotsman, who was supposed to be Sir Alex Ferguson's chosen one, has expressed his opinions on his time at United in the Sunday Times, via Ben Jefferson of The Sunday Express, and has defended his tenure which saw United transform from Premier League Champions to hopeless spectators. 

Moyes said, per Jefferson:

I never had the chance to thank the Manchester United supporters for the backing they gave me during my time as manager. I wish them every success in the future.

They now appreciate, I am sure, that things are changing at their club and it could well be that gone are the days of long-term planning. They were fully aware of the task I had. It was unfortunate I wasn't given more time to succeed.

Jon Super/Associated Press

Moyes' words reveal little in the grander context of Manchester United and its problems, but there is a philosophical debate to be had here.

United have been known for encouraging longevity, with Sir Matt Busby's and Sir Alex Ferguson's reigns spanning decades. But the concept that United, as a club, have specifically manufactured success from a thought or idea is more of a myth than fact. 

David Moyes was United's first real attempt at bringing in a manager with a view to giving him power on a long-term basis. It was very much a project with no former blueprint. 

It was also a romantic philosophy, but top level football is not a Hugh Grant film. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Everton manager David Moyes appeals to the assistant referee during the Carling Cup second round match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park on August 24, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunsk
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Moyes was charged with playing the role of Fergie, like a fresh-faced actor who had waited for a starring role for years. Yes, he sounds a bit like him. Yes, he has a stare that could break the glass in a window, like his predecessor could.

But in reality, that is where the similarities begin and end. 

When United brought Sir Alex to Old Trafford it was 1986 and managers did not have to deliver within 12 months, or face the sack. This was a general rule of thumb and not a Red Devils invention.

And this was also a United team who were nowhere near the best side in England and had a set of performance values far below the United of 2013. 

When Moyes talks about United fans having to accept that "the days of long-term planning" are gone, I argue that this was always just smoke and mirrors from a brand that used longevity to project a certain image to the marketplace. 

The type of image that was the core opposite of a Real Madrid, or later, Manchester City and Chelsea. It was a unique selling point in an industry that always looks for definition. 

12 May 1996:  Eric Cantona (left) of Manchester United and Alex Ferguson (right) Manager of Manchester United hold the trophies after winning the F A Cup and the Premier League after the F A Cup Final match against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in London.M
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

But the general rules have never changed. Success has been the mandate of the modern Manchester United since the early 90s and Ferguson reigned supreme because somehow, year after year, he delivered. 

Even when United did not win trophies in a season, and that actually happened more times than many remember, the team always competed.

And it was the abject failure in not competing that lost Moyes his job, and deservedly so. 

It was a mistake by Ferguson and the Glazers to think that a clone of the greatest manager in history, and a not very good one at that, could give United the feeding and nourishment that it needs to live and breathe, and most importantly, thrive. 

This is not a normal football club. This is the biggest football club in the world. And David Moyes has never been Oscar-winning material. 

Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Louis van Gaal's appointment is an acceptance by the board of directors that they got it very wrong 12 months ago and also is marked proof that the job of manager of Manchester United is for a select and exclusive breed of coaches. 

There is no such thing as a long-term strategy in football anymore: not if you are thinking about managers running teams for longer than 10 years at a time. 

Despite this, clubs can have a playing philosophy and it is then up to the owners to employ the correct manager to fulfill that philosophy.

United have a culture of attacking football—which begs the question: Why on earth would they employ David Moyes as a strategically long-term champion of their arts?

It does not make sense.

Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

United will move forward under Van Gaal both tactically and technically, but the truth is that if he fails he will also be sacked and United will once again have to look to someone new. 

The only way that the club will see anything like a Busby or Ferguson length of reign again is by a sheer fluke of an appointment—finding a manager so special that he can sustain success for an unfathomable amount of time.

Moyes was never that man, and it is worth noting that as good as Van Gaal is, he has previously been dismissed by both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. 

Progression is the key, here. If LVG cannot deliver progression then his stay in Manchester could be over by next summer. 

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