Monday, September 2, 2013

Moyes must be bolder

Be clear, no one is suggesting for a moment that Moyes is not the right man for the job. He was and is a fine choice. It was also never going to be straightforward filling the biggest shoes in English football.

There are also mitigating factors regarding Moyes' first season in the job. Whilst ManU had just won the Premiership at a canter indicating a vintage side, the reality of that team bears a much closer look.

Ferdinand and Vidic are past their best with Jones and Smalling still as yet unproven replacements. Scholes is gone, Giggs turns 40 this year, Van Persie is the wrong side of 30 and Wayne Rooney is sulking, not all in the Reds' garden is rosy.

Moyes however is being paid handsomely to solve all these problems and he surely will. Ferguson was the master of morphing one great team in to another whilst staying at the very top of the table. Whilst Moyes will be given time and he cannot be judged properly until it is 'his team' in a couple of years time, there are things that Moyes must change now, starting with himself.

It is of course natural for human beings to seek familiarity and Moyes is clearly no different having transported his Everton backroom team and the returning Philip Neville to Old Trafford. He now appears to be looking to raid Goodison for players also.

This however can be an issue where managers are taking a big step up as Moyes is doing. The danger being that you slowly turn the bigger club into the smaller one that you came from. There have been several instances where managers have erred in this respect.

Both Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rogers at Liverpool immediately returned to their former charges, Fulham and Swansea for players. Hodgson signed Paul Konchesky to almost disbelief from the Liverpool faithful and the fact that he was jettisoned down to the Championship after Woy departed says it all.

Rogers spent an awful lot of money, 15M on Joe Allen and he has so far flopped badly. Playing for Liverpool is not the same as playing for Swansea it would appear.

Sir Alex of course did the same thing when he went to Old Trafford returning to Aberdeen to sign Gordon Strachan and Jim Leighton, the latter of which was an unmitigated disaster which effectively wrecked Leighton's career at the highest level. Ferguson was not however expected to win the league in his first season in charge.

ManU looked painfully short in midfield again yesterday and given that the prospect of Fabregas seems to have been a fanciful one, Moyes is turning his attention to Marouane Fellaini.

Fellaini we would suggest would be a great addition for ManU and it is not to say that you cannot go back to a club for a player and be successful. The problem is the mindset of the manager who needs to look forwards instead of backwards. Martinez duly is happily going to replace Fellaini with James McCarthy from Wigan as he attempts to mould Everton into Wigan, and so it goes on.

Regardless of the final day transfer action, Davie Moyes' current mentality has been betrayed by his tactics and approach in the two big games he has played so far against Chelsea and Liverpool where ManU have drawn 2 blanks.

Whilst people are clearly lining up to criticise, it does appear as if Moyes is still setting up an Everton team to play these matches with tactics and expectations to match.

Mourinho would have been delighted to take a point so early at Old Trafford. He has little to prove to anyone after all whereas Moyes has it all to do. For Brendan Rogers yesterday, beating ManU was a huge shot in the arm as he attempts to take Liverpool back to the Champions League.

Moyes has taken 1 point from 6 in these 2 matches but it is more the manner of his approach that is the concern. ManU were possibly the better team against Chelsea but it was a fairly toothless performance.

Against Liverpool, Moyes is telling everyone that United played well but he is fooling no one. This is a Liverpool team still short of genuine top class quality in many areas yet they matched and surpassed ManU. Yes they were missing Rooney but Liverpool were without Suarez who is probably far more influential relatively for Liverpool.

Whilst Moyes' team selection was fairly non controversial, his tactics against Liverpool seemed fairly pedestrian. Playing Giggs on the right - he could of course be a scholar of the Mourinho born tactic of playing wingers who cut inside on to their preferred foot - after 23 years of his playing on the left and occasionally through the middle did also seem slightly odd.

Saying how pleased you are about the performance when you have just lost to your biggest rivals is dangerous also as Roy Hodgson found out at Liverpool. Ferguson and Mourinho can get away with that kind of tactic but not many others can. The expectations of the fans is far far higher.

Moyes quickly needs to find his own identity and self confidence in his tactics for the big matches with the Champions League also looming. All the big managers have their own approach in this regard.

Ferguson had the occasional moment of self doubt tinkering with his tactics but generally in the big games he was bold and attacked. United are full of attack minded players and playing any other way would appear folly.

Guardiola is another who never waivered, playing only one way, coveting the ball and playing his own brand of possession based football. the famous tikki-takka.

Mourinho generally counter attacks in the big games which is often misconstrued as being negative. Mourinho is far smarter than that, he simply gives his offensive players - usually quick wingers - the platform to break quickly. That is very different from playing negatively.

Roberto Mancini fell foul of this in Europe where he encouraged a City team with players such as Aguero, Toure, Da Silva and Tevez to play containing football, it simply did not work.

Moyes needs to quickly realise that managing ManU in the big games is very different from managing Everton, the expectations are far greater, a point is no longer enough - No Nonsense.