There’s no other way to look at it, Tuesday evening’s abject 2-0 defeat to Olympiakos was one of the worst Manchester United performances in recent years.
David Moyes, the current Manchester United manager who took over the role from Sir Alex Ferguson last July, has suffered a terrible start to his tenure at Old Trafford, and now many fans have had enough and are calling for him to be sacked. Some publications have even suggested that he only has either 5 or 12 games to save his job.
In the past the Red Devils have suffered more damaging and embarrassing results (Manchester City and Liverpool’s 6-1 and 4-1 victories at Old Trafford in 2011 and 2009, respectively, immediately come to mind), but these were anomalies that were still punctuated with the kind of dynamic attacking display that have been apart of Manchester United’s DNA since they were known as Newton Heath back in 1889.
In Greece, United showed absoultely none of these characteristics. Instead, they simply labored the ball around the pitch while struggling to string two potent passes together and each player looked and treated their teammate like an abusive drunk who had turned up at their child’s prom. It was pathetic, embarrassing and boring.
For a sizeable amount of fans this has proved to be the final straw. One particular genius has even decided to have a Moyes Out tattoo blazoned to his backside to show his disgust. Others have taken the less painful and, arguably, less moronic route of simply writing their vitriol on the Internet.
They now believe that they’ve seen enough and Moyes should be relieved of his position at Manchester United. You can’t argue with their fury. United are currently in sixth place in the Premier League, 15 points off the leaders Chelsea, 11 points off Champions League qualification, and out of the FA and League cups too, all while playing football that even their most ardent supporter would only politely describe as mind-numbingly turgid. It’s enough to start watching cricket.
Since their semi-final defeat against Sunderland in the latter, players, coaches and manager alike have been pointing to their Champions League quarter final game with Olympiakos as their season defining encounter. This was the match that would not only spark their journey to the competition’s final in Lisbon, but one that would also help to prove that Moyes is the right man for the job, which is what makes their woeful performance on Tuesday even more unforgivable.
Since then, various rumors indicating that Moyes was about to lose his job have been given more credence than they should of because of the current dire situation at Old Trafford, while some reports stated that the NYSE would announce the Scot’s departure on Wednesday morning.
If Moyes is sacked there isn’t anyone who could say it wasn’t for a justifiable reason, but if Manchester United do decide to part with him after just one season in the job then the repercussions could be drastic.
Despite their huge global reach and their hundreds of millions of fans, United have always prided themselves on being a “proper” football club. One that knows that the club reflects the proud industrial northern city it’s based in, prides itself on being fair, has a core of home-grown players in its midst (an academy player has been in every United squad for the last 4,005 games, dating back to October 1937), and doesn’t make knee-jerk decisions when the going gets tough.
Sacking Moyes would spit in the face of these traditions, and could see United go down the route of firing managers every season if they don’t achieve the short term goals that have been ear-marked for them.
Don’t get me wrong, for the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and AC Milan this has worked out tremendously well in the past.
But Manchester United want a manager who they can get behind and celebrate alongside with for decades, just like they’ve done with Ernest Mangnall, Sir Matt Busby, Tommy Docherty, Ron Atkinson and Sir Alex Ferguson.
David Moyes might not be the man to do it, but 12 months, let alone 7 months, isn’t enough time to know that yet, especially when he hasn’t truly had time to mould the team in his own image.
Having already bought Maraoune Fellaini and Juan Mata, and signed Wayne Rooney to a long term deal, Moyes is now looking to strengthen his side even further, and in the summer 4 or 5 more purchases are set to be made in key positions. The likes of Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos and Southampton’s Luke Shaw have already been heavily linked to the club, but even with their additions it could soon become plainly obvious that Moyes just isn’t up to the job.
But even if United don’t qualify for the Champions League next season, or win the league again before 2020, they will still always be Manchester United. Their allure reaches way beyond the mid-table obscurity that they currently find themselves in, and even though the game has changed drastically since the launch of the Premier League over 20 years ago and the financially implications of becoming an also-ran are so brain-twistingly drastic it could even make a calculator cry that will always be the case.
As Sir Alex Ferguson said to the Old Trafford faithful while standing on the pitch after his final ever home game last May; “Your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.” Some people already appear to have forgotten.
[Image via Rnoid/Shutterstock]