Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has blasted David Moyes for saying he wanted the Dutchman to remain at Old Trafford during his ill-fated spell in charge of the club.
Meulensteen admits Moyes made him an offer to remain at the club without the responsibility he was given during Sir Alex Ferguson's reign, as highlighted during his exclusive interview on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show, per Alex Varney of talkSPORT:
He says he asked me to stay but he didn’t say what he then said after that. He said, ‘well, I would like you to stay, I know how important you have been for the club and what you have done for the club, but I am going to do it all myself.' So it was then, 'OK, what is the reason for me to stay?'
That has not been documented and that is why you get all these wrong, mixed messages about why I didn’t stay.
Meulensteen noted he would have been "sidelined" after spending five years as "an integral part" of United's staff, a step back he wasn't prepared to take. Moyes' decision to talk to the press about his time with United—as highlighted by his Daily Mail interview with Matt Lawton—has forced Meulensteen to explain why he decided to move on.
After leaving Old Trafford, the renowned coach signed with Anzhi Makhachkala as the understudy to manager Guus Hiddink, where he quickly received the manager's job. He was sacked after just 16 days in charge. Meulensteen then moved to Fulham to be head coach, where similar events played out.
He took over the side upon Martin Jol's exit and was sacked with haste before the Cottagers plummeted down to the Championship under Felix Magath.
Despite a nightmarish chapter in his own managerial career, Meulensteen's comments are interesting when considering Moyes' tenure at the Theatre of Dreams. The Scottish boss needed time in the job, but his lack of activity during last year's summer transfer window forced many United fans onto the defensive (something that is now being replicated under Louis van Gaal).
Moyes certainly came across as a man who wanted to take as much responsibility as possible. He travelled abroad to scout players, implemented his own training methods and also allowed influential assistant manager Mike Phelan to leave.
Perhaps most tellingly, Moyes failed to hire a high-profile No. 2—so often a feature of Sir Alex's staff—instead opting to continue his work alongside former Everton colleague Steve Round. United's assistants have often flaunted the credentials to take on top jobs in their own right and have at least been a figure of authority at the club.
Moyes ensured he was a lone leader and therefore liable to taking the brunt of criticism. It's difficult to suggest United players would have felt inspired or intimidated when looking over to the bench during his tenure, as so many of the individuals who helped build success were gone.
Meulensteen's expertise certainly helped Ferguson get the best out of a dwindling squad during the 2012-13 title win. It's commendable Moyes wanted to be his own man, but any United manager needs to be flanked by staff who are either tied to the team or offer a unique perspective on how things should progress. Meulensteen was never a "yes man," perhaps to the detriment of his long-term future at the club.
As noted by German-based pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft, regardless of the make-up of United's coaching staff, the manager buys time by winning:
Ultimately, Moyes was unable to do this. The removal of responsibility from individuals such as Meulensteen—staff members United's title winners were used to working with—certainly made the transition away from Ferguson even more difficult. As Van Gaal is sure to be quickly finding out after suffering defeat to Swansea, the United manager needs a top-tier team alongside him to work through difficult spells.
Meulensteen is long gone, but the need to spend isn't. Van Gaal has two weeks to shape his United team into a competitive side or else face a continued struggle until Christmas. Moyes' reign doesn't feel so far away when similar mistakes are being made—most notably, the lack of signings—as United approach two weeks that will define the entire season's outlook.
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