Manchester United is bigger than any one man, and so the events of the last week bring change at our Club while the Reds go marching on.
The only constant in football is change and so none of this surprises me.
Sir Alex Ferguson came to United and has given us more success than we dreamed of. I remember his arrival, after the reigns of such managers as Wilf McGuinness, Ron Atkinson, Dave Sexton and Tommy Docherty, all of whom arrived with the same expectations but left with their reputations damaged by the experience.
Sir Alex was the man who knocked the Glasgow Clubs off their perch and yet I vividly recall that Nottingham Forest FA Cup tie in which it was widely reported that a loss would result in his sacking, only Martin Edwards really knows how close he came to pulling the trigger, and we have Mark Robins to thank for the years that followed.
Patience is a virtue, and the reign of David Moyes begins with a 6 year contract at a Club which just strolled away with the Premier League. Surely he has the easiest job in Sport, simply managing a team of perennial winners, the best squad in Fergie’s reign with more annual success assured. But no, that not a fair assessment.
Wayne Rooney has decided to make Moyes arrival a drama, even if its not a crisis. I loved Fergie’s comment that a Rooney on top form would never be taken off, but that boy has been largely absent for the last season or so. The question for me is not about the retention of the blue Scouser but rather that of whether he can knuckle down under Moyes and regain his fitness.
The sloth that tried to mark Mikel Arteta in the Arsenal draw is not the dynamic 16 year old that Moyes gave a chance to, against Arsenal for Everton, we now have a wealthy family man who is slower, and more complaining, closer to a short Dimitar Berbatov than a Lionel Messi -and fading fast. Can this player stop playing in flashes and rebuild his stamina, can he regain some pace, can he rediscover the drive?
Like Ricky Hatton he has to make a comeback, change aspects of his lifestyle and just want it more than he does. Only Rooney can know if he is capable of this and if not then Moyes first business should be to get top dollar for the lad. Fergie would never hold onto a fading force.
Moyes then needs to show some patience with the team. He has a wealth of talent at his disposal with young players galore. In David De Gea, Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Nick Powell, Wilfried Zaha, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley he has the core of a new great team. Can he make Anderson the player we want him to be?
Can he restore the form of Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young?
Can he give Javier Hernandez more game time?
But what a great job that must be as he mixes Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick with the next generation of winners he is managing.
Adding to the talent is also an interesting aspect of the job. Leigthon Baines was coveted by Fergie but young Alexander Buttner is a good player and Patrice Evra had a strong season. Would Baines really want that challenge for his starting berth?
Cover at right back is Valencia, Jones and Smalling – none of whom are specialists and so I’d like to see that spot better covered. We also have Fabio coming back from QPR where I watched his rather stilted progress with interest. He could break through next season.
The loss of Paul Pogba, more than Ravel Morrison, added to the retirement of Paul Scholes does suggest we need to reinforce that area with one holding and one creative midfielder. I like Marouane Fellaini and he could be a good addition to replace Rooney in that second striker/ attacking midfielder position. He is different enough to allow the game to change when needed and he is brilliant in the air and holding up play. I see a move for him as a Moyes priority.
The defensive midfield position is one we could fill with a move for Jack Rodwell, who Moyes knows well, or by looking to Italy where that position is filled by a number of excellent players in Serie A. I quite like Moussa Sissoko at Newcastle, but Michael Carrick has shown that strong tacking is less important than a good engine, the ability to hold up attackers and great distribution. Dembele has it all for me, and if Spurs fail in their Champions league endeavor then watch that space.
The dream of a Gareth Bale, or the return of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, is a wonderful idea to have but those players are so rare that I find myself wondering why the selling Club would allow it to happen. But Rooney has demonstrated that player power remains and unhappy players do leave the clubs they are at, as Van Perfect has proven. United and Moyes could do worse that buy Bale.
In any event, Moyes needs our patience. I’m in Italy right now and so know Rome wasn’t built in a day, which echoes our Empire too. The Roman Empire lasted 400 years and has seen 2000 years of decline, our Empire is still strong but needs time to build stronger so that Moyes can establish a platform for success and build on the perch Fergie built, taking us out of sight from the jokers down the M62.
So all we want from you David are 4 more Champions League wins, that’s what success looks like! No pressure then!
By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve