We’ve reached the point in the season when everyone traditionally runs out of things to say. For most clubs, the season is now over and the normal topics of debate have all been exhausted. There’s no World Cup or European Championship this Summer, so all that’s left is the pointless transfer conjecture and….some strange revisionism over David Moyes’ Manchester United tenure.
It’s spreading. Every day there seems to be a new article or popular Twitter comment which questions United’s wisdom in sacking Moyes’ so early into his contract and yet that argument seems to be built on the same flimsy premise each time.
It’s true, the Scot was given very little time to impose any of his beliefs or systems on the club and, compared with his successor, he was given precious little money to implement any personnel changes.
Equally, there are comparisons to be made between the rigid, structureless style that characterised United last year and the way the side played up until very recently under Louis Van Gaal.
The logic, therefore, would seem to be that, had Moyes been given a few more months, he would also have overseen the similarly impressive results at Anfield and in the derby, and he too would have gone round-for-round with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
We will never know and, because we won’t, such contrariness will probably have life for a little longer.
There’s one problem with that point of view, though.
While parallels exist between the early stages of the two respective managerial reigns, there is a stark contrast in the club atmosphere between this year and last. Under Moyes, there were countless rumours of disaffection, of players not exhibiting the requisite respect for their new manager and, reportedly, also widespread issues with members of his coaching team.
Remember the “Oh fuck off, Steve (Round)” story and the many, many others just like it?
The difference was in the culture, not necessarily in the football. It’s easy to make an argument based around hypotheticals, but did anything about Moyes’ time at Old Trafford - any of it - suggest that success was just around the corner? Was there even the slightest hint that he would have reversed the downward trend in performance?
No. In addition to the poor results at the time of his departure, the whispers were becoming more audible and the atmosphere seemed to be further deteriorating. Conversely, that’s never really been the case with Van Gaal. For long periods of the season the team has seemed unsure of itself, but there has never been even a suggestion that he wasn’t in command of his squad or that the players were reacting poorly to his appointment.
It hasn’t always been successful, but it has always felt healthy.
Make the Moyes argument, but back it with more than just a half-hearted insistence about needing more time.
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