MOYES SACKED: Why Man Utd changed forever today and players have blood on hands
April 22, 2014. Mark it in red, if you like. The day Manchester United became just another, run-of-the-mill moneyed club.
Sacking managers inside a year? That was for other teams. Player power? Again, United were above all that.
But not anymore.
United fans have long scoffed at the sacking culture of Chelsea under Roman Abramovich. But one thing you can't level at the Russian was doing it by remote control. His managers, from Jose Mourinho to Andre Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez, were never left second guessing Abramovich's plans. He's always had the bottle to personally give his man the push.
For United standards, events this morning at Carrington were a disgrace.
It was Ed Woodward, United's still very green chief executive, who relayed the owners' decision to Moyes at 8am this morning. The Scot had been at the club since 5am, hoping to avoid a media scrum created by leaks from within the club about his demise.
There was no member of the Glazer family inside the office today. They're all in 'States, not due back in Manchester until next week. If the players, thanks to whispers inside Old Trafford, knew Moyes was gone before the Everton game, then why couldn't Avi or Joel get themselves on a flight and be in Manchester to deliver the news personally - and also to the global support?
Instead, we had a pathetic 33-word tweet released a half hour after Woodward had delivered the news to Moyes.
And beyond the Glazers, if Moyes was the 'Chosen One' for Sir Alex Ferguson, then where was he to give his successor his P45?
For a club that claims to be the biggest in the world, the idea that a tweet was United standard is pitiful.
Speaking of which, United's senior players have blood on their hands today.
Ryan Giggs may not have been driven it, but those close to him will be feeling very happy with themselves. Those stories about Giggs being sidelined by Moyes on the training pitch or complaints about his tactics didn't come out of nowhere. Now he has the man's job.
Rio Ferdinand, United's happy tweeter, was 'caught out' several times with critical comments on Twitter this season. But for a man in control of his own successful media empire, from online magazines to film companies, the idea his tweets were the stuff of a naive, unsophisticated athlete is a massive stretch.
And are we really expected to have sympathy for Danny Welbeck? Out partying barely hours after United's Champions League elimination, of course Moyes is going to fine and discipline him. Yet, those reporters close to Welbeck's camp have been peddling the line that it was the manager who was in the wrong. Welbeck was mistreated by Moyes, apparently. But this is the same player who had to be convinced by Moyes' staff to work more on his game earlier this season. They couldn't believe he'd happily clock off when training ended.
But perhaps this is what United fans have to look forward to - tweeting, partying players, who refuse to be told what's good for them. This isn't the club of Bryan Robson or Roy Keane.
That's not to say Moyes was blameless. In a game which relies so heavily on partnerships, his tinkering was exasperating. 51 different line-ups in his 51 games? By United standards, that was a recipe for mediocrity.
Even his first decision-making had alarm bells ringing. The failure to convince Rene Meulensteen to stay was a blow and the sale of Mats Daehli to Molde raised the eyebrows.
It's ironic that in the week the little Norwegian produced his best performance for Cardiff City, Moyes was given the push.
But like so many things that have gone wrong this season, mistakes with their youth players run deeper than Daehli. Ravel Morrison is tearing up Championship defences at QPR and Paul Pogba is running around with a €70 million price-tag on his back. Throw in Zeki Fryers, now at Tottenham, and that's four top, young talents gone for a snip. Something definitely went wrong under Ferguson with the management of the club's best young players.
Among several key issues, Moyes and his team were in the process of lifting standards within the club's youth system.
And the desperate need for such improvements has to be the big concern for United going forward.
Moyes was brought in to rebuild a club with no succession planning in place. Ferguson's autocratic style left the club without an up-to-date scouting system and a skeleton team - with him leaning heavily on his brother, Martin. Moyes was basically working from scratch - and Woodward and the Glazers were well aware of this.
Yet the decision was still made this morn..., er last week, to dump the manager.
Player power, social media, Moyes himself, there's plenty of blame to share around. But the problems remain, only now the new man, whether that's Giggs or a big name foreigner, will go into the job knowing United are like anyother club - they sack their managers.
'Anyone but Moyes' may enjoy a honeymoon period. But the new manager will still have to work with a rookie chief executive, a newly assembled scouting and coaching staff loyal to his predecessor and a dressing room emboldened by their first managerial victim.
United, the club, has changed today.
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