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Why Man Utd fans must be nervous about Moyes coaching carnage

David Moyes? Fergie-light? You must be kidding.

It's been absolute carnage since Moyes took over at Manchester United from Sir Alex Ferguson. The best backroom team in the country, perhaps in the game, painstakingly assembled by Ferguson over several years, has been dismantled in a matter of days.

Gone, after over 12 years, is first team coach Mike Phelan and after five years, goalkeeper coach Eric Steele. And the clock is ticking for Rene Meulensteen, who has been marginalised and expected to move on.

It will be a completely different dugout at United next season and there are also question marks over the academy, where Brian McClair, Paul McGuiness and Warren Joyce will be nervous after reports of Alan Irvine being lined up by Moyes for a youth role at Carrington.

Throw in new chief executive Ed Woodward, who is succeeding David Gill, and all the talk of a 'smooth transition' and a 'steady pair of hands' appear well wide of the mark.

United's hierarchy knew the clearout was coming. Ferguson hinted at the changes when speaking to his staff on that fateful Wednesday morning, admitting they'd have to wait to meet Moyes that Friday to learn of his plans.

And the new manager has been ruthless.

Steele's influence on David De Gea's success in the second-half of last term cannot be underplayed. Ferguson counted on Steele's recommendation in choosing the Spaniard, along with Anders Lindegaard, after extensive scouting of the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper.

It was also Steele who took it upon himself to take Spanish language lessons, rather than wait for De Gea to learn English, to accelerate the 22 year-old's Premier League adjustment and to keep up his confidence.

"You bring a boy into the Premier League at 20," Steele told the Guardian before De Gea was voted by the PFA as last season's outstanding goalkeeper. "It's not easy. He's learning in the toughest environment in the world. But the one thing he has is fantastic inner strength. We teach him that the calmest man on the field has to be the goalkeeper."

Now De Gea's mentor has gone, to be replaced by Chris Woods. An excellent coach in his own right, but will he be capable of recreating the connection De Gea enjoyed with Steele?

Like Phelan, Meulensteen has been connected to United since 2001 and has been an influence for players like Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley since their junior days. He also, beyond Ferguson, was the closest to Cristiano Ronaldo when the Real Madrid star was building his game at United.

Originally head-hunted by Ferguson to lift the technical standards of the club's juniors, Meulensteen was regarded last season as the most influential coach at United. Robin van Persie credits Meulensteen for the ease with which he settled at Old Trafford: "The way he (Meulensteen) trains is exceptional. He is truly one of the best coaches in the world."

Moyes obviously believes he can do without Meulensteen. But is there anyone in the Everton backroom with his experience? Indeed, is there anyone at Goodison Park with just the Champions League background of Meulensteen and Phelan?

One of the great strengths of Ferguson was his willingness to bring new people into his coaching team. He famously appointed Carlos Queiroz as his assistant without having met him. He placed better coaches, better tacticians around him to keep United competitive.

After Moyes' first decisions as United manager, the question for United fans must be: does replacing the current staff with their Everton equivalent actually make the club stronger?

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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