David Moyes Is Employing the Well-Worn Tactic of Criticising Referees

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentJanuary 11, 2014

NORWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  David Moyes manager of Manchester United reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and  Manchester United at Carrow Road on December 28, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

David Moyes has found plenty of difficulty in trying to follow in Sir Alex Ferguson's footsteps. 

With 13 Premier League winners' medals and two Champions League titles, who wouldn't?

But there is one area where Moyes has picked up the baton almost seamlessly—his criticism of referees.

His comments after the defeat to Sunderland in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final, reported by the Manchester Evening News, have landed him an FA charge.

We're having to play them (referees) as well as the opposition at the moment. It's really terrible, it really is. We're actually beginning to laugh at them, that's the thing.

It's nothing new.

Manchester United fans are used to hearing their manager have a dig at the officials. Ferguson very rarely criticised his players in public, saving his ire for the dressing room. Instead, he would often try to distract supporters and commentators from a bad performance with scathing criticism of the referee.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09:  Sir Alex Ferguson manager of Manchester United (C) argues with referee Chris Foy prior to the penalty shoot out during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2009 i
Phil Cole/Getty Images

Ferguson knew better than most that whatever he said was news. And he became very shrewd in the way he chose the headlines he made. 

He knew that if he took on the referee after a defeat, there would be more attention paid to the official's performance and less given to United's display. It was his way of taking the pressure of his players. 

Moyes, as Everton manager, was never shy about criticising referees either. But at Goodison Park he also developed a reputation for being refreshingly honest.

He would play down the hype surrounding a young player after a couple of good displays. And if he felt one of his players had made a costly mistake, he would talk openly about it. He never went over the top, but it was enough to make sure his players were always held to account.

Different managers have different ways of motivating their players and dealing with the media scrutiny after a game, and Ferguson and Moyes had different methods at United and Everton. There's no right and wrong way, just their way.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22:  David Moyes the Everton manager talks to match referee Anthony Taylor as he walks off at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton at the Boleyn Ground on December 22, 2012 in London,
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But there's a danger that Moyes will take too much on his shoulders.

He's already under the microscope because he's the man who stepped into Ferguson's shoes. He doesn't need to shield his players, too. 

Modern football is all about the managers because they're the ones who get hired and fired. It adds to the soap opera. And because of that, it can be easy for players to hide behind their boss instead of fronting up themselves.

Moyes has made mistakes this season, but his players are the ones who sit seventh in the Premier League and have been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round. They must take their share of the blame.

If this was Everton, they would perhaps have been made to take responsibility in public. And there's no reason why Moyes can't still employ that kind of honesty now he's at Old Trafford.