Share volatility and players’ fallibility lead to ruin of Moyes

United manager has been thwarted by both players’ form and club’s share price

A Manchester City fan holding  up a sarcastic David Moyes sign at the Etihad Stadium last night. Photograph:  Martin Rickett/PA Wire

A Manchester City fan holding up a sarcastic David Moyes sign at the Etihad Stadium last night. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire


Ah, cruel auld game. “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” sang the Everton faithful in the direction of their former beloved gaffer on Sunday, and they were, it seems, only slightly out. All the signs now are that David Moyes’s brief reign as Alex Ferguson’s successor is about to be terminated.

This line from the wires yesterday said it all, really:

Manchester United have made no comment on reports that Moyes is to be sacked imminently, but volatility in their share price could force their hand.” Need it be said, if there were volatile share prices back in the day, Ferguson wouldn’t have seen out his first season.

One manager in almost 27 years; now, possibly, three in less than 28.

Ferguson, with the support of Bobby Charlton, needed just to persuade the son of a local butcher to give him time. Moyes’s quest for patience is somewhat trickier, his tenure a mere entry in the Glazers’ transatlantic portfolio.

Changed times, indeed. Pure and utter madness, too. But such is the way.

Moyes deserved time, much more than most of his players, but it’s a whole heap easier, and less financially taxing, to fire a manager than offload half your squad at knockdown prices.

Sparkling things
Ferguson achieved sparkling things during his reign, but winning the league last season was probably top of his miraculous list, not least because his team did not possess a midfield. That Michael Carrick was hailed for his contribution to the campaign said it all: a very, very average midfielder made to look like Yaya Toure because he was surrounded by mediocrity. Eg, Anderson.

That success was in no small part due to the other chief contenders – Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – having a decidedly off season. Still, it was a remarkable feat, possibly Ferguson’s finest, but just as Liverpool’s Istanbul triumph papered over multiple cracks, United’s 20th title did just the same.

How can the defending league champions be so rubbish? Moyes struggled to answer, but his players struggled more. For much of the season, they have been abject, but it was their new manager who had to answer for their failures.

At Goodison Park on Sunday, the players were abysmal, most of them hardly breaking sweat. Everton hunted in packs and found United easy pickings.

It seemed like Moyes never quite did what he really needed to do with this lot: make them fear him.

Think back to that moment a few months ago when Javier Hernandez threw his eyes to the heavens and his arms in the air when Moyes took him off. If he’d tried that with Ferguson, he’d have been either (a) disembowelled, (b) banished to the reserves, or, worse, (c) sent on loan to Peterborough. If he got 10 minutes from Ferguson, Hernandez would be close to genuflecting.

Moyes was ceaselessly criticised for fiddling with his line-up, but could you blame him when so many of them let him down, game in, game out? You’d fiddle too if Ashley Young played like a drain, if Phil Jones resembled Gary Breen on his worst days, if Tom Cleverley played like Tom Cleverley, and Nani was Nani. And Shinji Kagawa was exceptional one day, and Nani-ish the next. And intermittent huffs from van Persie, Valencia, Ferdinand, and the like. Ferguson, watching from the stands, probably needed security to restrain him from entering the dressing room.

Not that Moyes was blameless. His press interactions were often excruciating, and that £27.5 million purchase of Marouane Fellaini was a costly embarrassment, which most likely persuaded the Glazers he could not be trusted with a bulky transfer budget this summer. His sacking of all of Ferguson’s coaching crew was also unwise, when some continuity was required.

But he deserved time.

Ferguson had his hiccups too – forget Fellaini, he signed Bébé, Massimo Taibi, David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba, to name but a few – but it came good, spectacularly.

Moyes attempted to take on the mother of all jobs. If given the time, he’d have been fine. He deserved better than this.

He deserved time to build his own team and rid himself of players unwilling to give him the effort they happily gave Ferguson, week in, week out.

But he was banjaxed by those players’ form, as volatile as the share prices.

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