David Moyes’ death stare won’t freeze out the critics now
The smallest incidents at Old Trafford will be magnified and dramatised
Having to deal directly with Moyes meant the reporters thought more carefully about what they wrote about him.
Some would call it empathy, others cowardice: however you choose to interpret the psychology, it’s generally true journalists who have something like a personal relationship with their subject are more likely to see things from the subject’s point of view.
So when things went badly for Everton and the fans raged about negativity and defeatism, the media coverage was always comparatively mild, usually emphasising Moyes was doing a good job considering the limited resources he had to work with. The tendency was to resist amplifying runs of poor form into crises.
Moyes will find the coverage of Manchester United tends to do the exact opposite.
The press corps covering the club is so large it was beyond even Alex Ferguson’s ability to control, and this was a man who in his latter years had become a kind of world attraction like the Mona Lisa.
Moyes won’t be able to disarm his critics by fixing them with a reproachful stare.
The smallest incidents will be magnified and dramatised. He will only have to draw a game to find large sections of the media questioning his suitability for the job, talking about something called a “decisive power shift”, heralding the collapse of the empire, etc . . .
He could have done without having to make a major decision over Wayne Rooney’s future in his first week in the job. Does he want to keep a player with whom Ferguson had lost patience, or cash in and risk seeing Rooney rediscover his best form at a rival club?
The decision would be difficult even without the complications created by commercial considerations.
Despite his recent underperformance, Rooney remains the biggest English football star. Sponsorship is now United’s most important revenue stream, and their kit deal with Nike is soon up for renegotiation. If they sell Rooney now, are they a less attractive proposition to commercial partners?
Another problem is Rooney’s contract is up in two years, so if United want him to stay, they have to give him a new one. There has been talk that United don’t intend to increase Rooney’s wages and may even offer reduced terms, but why would Rooney accept such a deal when the club’s income is growing by €20 to €30 million a year?
The only thing Moyes can take for granted is whatever he decides to do, he’ll have half the world telling him he’s wrong.