David Moyes Reportedly Facing Player Backlash over Manchester United Tactics

Ben Blackmore@@Blackmore_BRFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2014


David Moyes has been getting it from all angles over recent weeks, but now it is reported the most important individuals at the club—the players—are also turning on the Manchester United manager.

Pictures emerged from Tuesday’s Manchester derby of United fans visibly venting their anger at Moyes during the 3-0 humbling at the hands of neighbours Manchester City:

Now Mark Ogden of The Telegraph reports the players are fed up of Moyes’ coaching style, which is too cautious when compared to the attacking mindset of old boss Sir Alex Ferguson:

Moyes’s perceived cautious approach has been viewed as blunting the team’s attacking potential, and although senior players embraced his determination last summer to make training more physically demanding than under Sir Alex Ferguson, it is now regarded as having contributed little of benefit to a team who are in seventh position in the Premier League, 12 points adrift of Champions League qualification.

Having grown accustomed to ball-related training under Ferguson and coaches Rene Meulensteen and Mike Phelan, there is less enthusiasm for Moyes’s preference for more structured sessions centred on team shape and organisation, and concern has also been expressed about a lack of continuity in team selection – highlighted by the surprise recall of Ryan Giggs to the team against Olympiakos last week and his subsequent absence from the squad in the following games against West Ham United and City.

Ogden’s report isn’t the first to highlight disharmony in the United camp.

Back in September, the Daily Star’s David Woods claimed Robin van Persie was “yet to be convinced” by Moyes’ training methods. The Dutchman then told Dutch TV channel NOS—via the Daily Mail’s Craig Hope—that his United team-mates were “playing in my zones” during the Champions League first-leg loss to Olympiakos.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MARCH 08:  David Moyes manager of Manchester United speaks to Robin van Persie of Manchester United as he is substituted during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United at The Hawthorns
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Moyes’ coaching methods were labelled “prehistoric” by former Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City coach Raymond Verheijen, per the Mail's James Andrew, and now it seems the players are showing their displeasure with his methods.

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In truth, there should be little surprise at the style that Moyes has attempted to introduce at Old Trafford.

At Everton, he was known for playing functional football based on a high work-rate and organisation. Rarely did his Everton sides earn rave reviews for their football, as Roberto Martinez has since taken over at Goodison Park during the summer.

Everton coach Kevin Sheedy recently summed up what the club was treated to during Moyes’ spell on Merseyside:

Marouane Fellaini is now attracting criticism of his own at United. Moyes brought him to Old Trafford for £27.5 million, an incredible price for a player who is not known for his technical proficiency.

Moyes performed wonders on a tight budget during his time at Everton, finishing in the top five on four occasions. However, only once did his side score over 55 goals in a campaign, per Transfermarkt.com.

Ferguson built his United empire on fast, high-intensity football, designed to get the ball wide before delivering quality into the box.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Ex- Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on January 1, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mi
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Moyes has adopted a far more cautious approach. The ball moves at a slower rate through midfield, crosses into the area lacking devilment, while any hint of cunning or subtlety has been lost.

Ryan Giggs introduced a dose of those qualities in the comeback win against Olympiakos to keep United in the Champions League, but he was nowhere to be seen in Moyes' selection for the defeat to City.

Moyes arrived with a CV that lacked European experience, trophies or the necessary style to suit United. Ogden’s report suggests the players have had enough.

If that is the case, the end will be nigh for the Scot. United’s owners will be able to ignore howls of disapproval from the crowd. They will be able to tow the line of a transitional period, but if the most valued assets—the players—lose faith, change will follow.

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