After Alex…

A Declaration of Interest…I have been a Manchester United fan since 6th February 1958. My sons are fans. My grandsons also.

In that time we have had two great managers. Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson. What happens next? Well seemingly David Moyes. The career of most football managers end in failure. So I am glad that the career of Fergie has ended on a high…Uniteds twentieth title and Alexs thirteenth… 2013 indeed.

And yet despite Uniteds runaway win over Manchester City…and Chelsea and Arsenal and the rest hides the fact that this is not the best United squad that Fergie has coached. Clearly a lot of credit has to go to the backroom team that Ferguson has worked with down the years. Its really all about Continuity and Consistency.

If David Moyes is named as the new manager…I will be pleased. Moyes seems to be to be cut from the same cloth as his fellow Scots (Busby and Ferguson) and has done a good job with Everton on very limited funds. Indeed that might in itself  a problem…is he the sort of manager who cant really manage at the very top?

United fans are now so used to success that ending 2012-13 with “only” the Premiership is actually an anti-climax. The early dismissal from Europe, along with the other English clubs demonstrates that the Premiership is no longer the best domestic league in Europe. The European Champions final will be contested by two German teams.

So a re-building job is what Moyes has taken on. Slow changes or Quick Changes. New broom? New hairdryer? Or…steady as she goes. Will he have the dressing room onside? Or will hevquickly identify the whingers?

Of the three goalkeepers…Lindegaard looks the most likely to go. On his rare appearances, most recently against Chelsea, he has not impressed me. Amos has been out on loan and ready to be promoted to the United bench. Whether he stays or goes, the future is probably in his own hands. De Gea has had a reasonable season. Still young, he has clearly put on weight and not nearly as vulnerable at crosses than he was. A lot of the credit goes to Eric Steele, the Goalkeeping Coach. De Gea seems to be a “confidence player” who needs the backing of a mentor. A lot might depend on how any new coach rates him.

I have never liked Ferdinand. And I have never really understood his popularity with United fans. That eight months suspension for the missed drugs test is not something that I can easily forget. He is also not the player he was. And at his age, not liable to play a full season. Vidic …hampered by long term injury..has not yet come fully back to t the player he was three years ago. Evans has improved but is he really top drawer by European standards. Smalling and Jones have arrived over the past few seasons. But both seem injury prone. Yet they are now in an England squad.

Evra has gone backwards over recent seasons but had no real competition from Fabio (who did not impress on loan with QPR and likely to leave) but under pressure from new arrival Buttner, he has regained form. Rafael has had a good season.

It is hard to see David Moyles having the same connexion with Giggs (39) and Scholes (38). Giggs is signed up for another year and Scholes will likely retire…again. Giggs will be relegated to a mere supporting role Next year. Yet the man brought in as his replacement, Young, has shown very little consistency. I am not a fan of Nani and I think Fergie has indulged him too much. He is selfish and frankly below United standard. Valencia might have slowed up since his broken leg. He seems to struggle more than he did and that final ball is too wayward.

Fletcher is likely to retire thru illness. And Cleverley is not yet the finished product. Carrick has had a good season. Powell is for the future. Kagawa a decent squad player but there is a suspicion that United need him for commercial rather than football reasons…the Japanese and wider Asian market. Anderson…..has never lived up to his reputation. He should move on.

Moving on…Rooney? He wanted to move a few years ago. And there are rumours about him going this time. United fans dont like him (and David Moyes might have a long memory ). There are fitness concerns about Rooney. And I think we have seen his best already. Van Persie is of course the main reason that United won the title. Hernandez is popular…an impact sub rather than a starter but I rate him. Macheda (already on loan in Germany) will move on. Wellbeck…I cant see the fuss….Bambi on ice, he seems a long way short of United standard.

So did the squad that I have just described actually win the Premiership. Yes…and by a distance. but surely a lot of that must be down to Alex Ferguson. He had the drive and the squad were driven. Football is a team game…and the art of the manager is to make a team more than the sum of its parts. Ferguson has built four United teams but this one is the weakest. No Schmeichel. No Keane. No Cantona. No Irwin.

David Moyes? He needs to establish himself early. In Press Conferences. On the training ground. Look out for cliques within the club. And impress the fans in the first five games of the new season. Thats where his reputation will be made. dropping too many points at the start of his United career and the first “Moyes Out” chants will be heard.

A new back room staff? Probably but not completely. And certainly re-building and his first port of call might be Everton….Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman maybe. Phil Neville on the coaching staff?

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39 Responses to After Alex…

  1. Political Tourist says:

    “Impress the fans in the first five games”

    As against Alex getting 5 years to do the same thing.

    • Thats the nature of how much the “sport” has changed over more than two decades.
      when Fergie took over United fans had been starved of success…except for Cup success. Fergie did win the FA Cup in 1990 and followed it up with the Cup Winners Cup in 1991.
      The victory over Crystal Palace and he was lucky…saved his job.
      But United since 1993 have won the title thirteen times and I think the lowest league position was third (and that was maybe only once) so that is the new yardstick.
      Realistically no more than seven Premiership teams compete for four European places. Its like musical chairs.
      This season United and City always looked safe…but this season will end in disappointment for Arsenal or Spurs…not to mention Everton and Liverpool.
      When Fergies United won the FA Cup in 1990 it was the second most important trophy.
      But ask any fan of the major seven teams if they would rather finish fourth or win the FA Cup, I think most would want to finish fourth.
      I cant see David Moyes first season that United are a mid table team. But they COULD slip behind two teams (probably City and Chelsea) going for the title and be one of a group of clubs going for third and fourth.
      That would send up distress flares to fans used to (too much) success.

  2. Van Persey was the real difference between the only two teams to seriously compete in the EPL Penthouse this year. City beat you last year because [in part] we spent [just] 50 mill more.

    If Moyes does well it will only proves my general point that funds are the decisive factor in the English top flight, with talent a secondary consideration.

    Personally, I do wish him well… I’ve watched more home games at Goodison than Maine Road… and I love Everton as club.

    But at the end of the day the EPL is a tin trophy, for the rich and powerful… I hope the FA fix it… They sure as hell were never going to as long Alex was king… 😉

    Alpha Males… Don’t you just adore them?

    • Oh RVP made the difference.
      After last year there was no way we would lose on goal difference.
      But I think your Slugger post read too much into what is still Football. It was a bit Orwellian for me.
      But I think that Uniteds money (and dont start me on the Glazers) is at least based on success on the field and a fan base. City and Chelsea…and Im not point-scoring here…is a different thing.
      At the start of the season, I was pessimistic…actually I am always prssimistic when a new season begins…because ON PAPER City looked a lot stronger.
      I think that is still the case. City have the better players and United the better team.
      All teams have mercenaries. City have more.
      And I think that its fair to say that Fergie got his team to be more than the sum of its parts. Mancini did the opposite.
      Im pessimistic again….The United squad needs re-built. Cracks were covered up by the sheer strength of Fergies personality.
      So…with players who are past their best Giggs, Scholes and people who seem to have lost something Rooney, Evra…and players who are not quite United standard Nani, Young, Anderson….I cant see a good season.
      And clearly success in England does not mean that a club is competitive in Europe.

      • Well, Fergie won the race for VP, and fair play to him. If soccer actually mattered, the analysis might be Orwellian. As it stands, it matter less but to more people than it did a decade ago. And it will matter a lot less in another ten years.

        Between City and United, I’ve no qualms with your analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each. My gripe is with the wider league.

        They need to kill the differential in prize money that runs down through the league, its the fact that most of the league cannot afford to compete that leaves it with a wealthy penthouse league.

    • Mick

      ‘But at the end of the day the EPL is a tin trophy, for the rich and powerful… I hope the FA fix it… They sure as hell were never going to as long Alex was king…’

      And they aren’t going to fix it, period. I couldn’t agree more with you btw (as a Spurs fan it would be a great benefit to us) but it’s not coincidental that all across Europe we have seen teams win prestigious leagues at a canter and with much bigger war chests than their nearest competitors, Bayern in Germany, PSG in France, Juve in Italy and Barca this year in La Liga.

      For what it’s worth their is a far greater chance of seeing a European Super League than some kind of well needed redistribution of the spoils of war among the far less sexier clubs further down the food chain. People love European football, it’s the competition of choice at the moment and has taken over from international competition for excitement. The big boys would much rather leave a league and keep the best players and the spoils than have to share them.

      • FC…I think youre right.
        AsI have said the FA Cup is not as prestigious as it usedto be. I had completely forgotten it was tomorrow until it was mentioned as about the third item on sky sports news.
        There was a time when the newspapers would have had coverage from monday to saturday.
        And BBC would have started broadcasting from about 10am…meet the players and travelling on the coach.
        Cant believe its a late kick off either.
        In reality the Premiership is about seven teams going for Europe. Four will make it and the rest like Liverpool will be the crisis club.
        And basically about ten teams will start every season hoping they stay in the Premiership.

      • The FA Cup died the day Utd went to that beach in Brazil. They knew and still do know where people’s attention is really focused. The game is global now and limited parochialism is allowed, even rewarded as lots of people in places like Continental Europe, SE Asia or South America like the notion of a game somewhere in the North of England on a cold Tuesday night in November, but they like it only know and again.

        The EPL is 3 leagues in 1, the race for the championship (UTD, City and Chelski), the race for 3rd and 4th (Spurs, Gooners, & 2 Scouse teams if they get their games together) and the race for the Championship. Unfortunately, this is the case across all of Europe too.

        As for the FA Cup, whenever a competition of any kind comes on and you find yourself rolling your eyes and asking when we can get back to the REAL thing you know the competition is over. I do this now with the FA Cup, League Cup and nearly ALL international games. European football and league (ANY league) football are the only games I have an interest in nowadays.

      • Youre definitely right about the day theFA Cup died.
        but even City are playing their second choice keeper tomorrow.
        Somehow instead of being the highlight of the season…remember in my day (along with the old Home Internationals), it was the only LIVE game in the year.
        but somehow it is now just a distraction.

      • But the powers that be have to ask themselves, why has it become an irrelevance? Lack of money and at best you get a spot in the Europa League. I have suggested this before and I will suggest it again, the FA should give the winner the 4th spot in the CL, watch as every team all of a sudden throws everything they’ve got at the competition as opposed to weighing up when to throw in the towel depending on how their league run is going.

      • The Champions League is misnamed.
        Three of the four teams are not champions.
        But it would de-value it even further if the FA Cup Winners got the fourth place.
        The luck of the draw means that a mid placed team could win the cup.

      • It is misnamed, yes, but I don’t see why a champion of a domestic cup competition could not be allowed in.

        As for the luck of the draw allowing a mid placed team to win the CL or the FA Cup, that’s the case now anyway, my proposal is one where we revitalise a domestic competition by giving people something more to play for.

  3. hoboroad says:

    I just hope a recently retired well known Labour supporter from Govan doesn’t spend to much time campaigning for a No vote in the Scottish Independence referendum. Alex should put his feet up and enjoy his retirement.

    • Theres nothing worse than an Anglo-Scot.
      Except of course the Irish going native in London.
      Imagine our own border poll when “Sir” Terry Wig On….oops Terry Wogan and Eamonn Holmes show up in Belfast to campaign for the “union”

    • Political Tourist says:

      Sir Alex would be a wise man to steer clear of the independence referendum.
      Asking people to vote Labour is one thing, asking people to vote one way or another in what a year from now could be a very nasty referendum campaign is something different altogether.
      The YES campaign and it’s supporters will have long memories regarding celebrities who give succour to the No camp.
      On the football front Glasgow football fans of the great divide who are a certain also have long memories regarding Sir Alex.
      Grudging respect is probably the best that could said.

      • Interesting one.
        I think that anglo-Scots such as Fergie is now should stay clear of Referendum politics.
        They will not be forgiven easily.
        Scots abroad…Sean Connery, Alan Cumming etc who have already gone for Independence are getting “but you dont even live here” from the NO Campaign so it would be hypocritical to recruit English based Scots.
        Will be interesting to see just how many celebs get involved….
        My feeling thru knowing a lot of Scots who are interested in Jacobite History is that they ridicule “shortbread tin” Scots….those who are publicly Scottish but privately unionist.

  4. hoboroad says:

    Fletcher has signed up as a commentator for BT Sport.

  5. hoboroad says:

    You’re right FJH it’s the BBC guy not the Man Utd player. Sorry for any confusion.

  6. James says:

    I’ve also heard our new leader is a bit of a lefty too!!!

  7. Fear Feirsteach says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Rooney. Moyes’ first test. Can he convince ‘Wazza’ that a post-Fergie United is the challenge he needs – or is there just too much baggage there?

    • Baggage….certainly.
      Apparently Rooney said two weeks ago that he wanted a move. maybe he knew that Moyes was on his way.
      Ferguson is a football man. So is Moyes.
      Rooney isnt.
      Rooney could be tolerated when he was contributing. But I honestly think he is not the player he was.
      He is also far too heavy.
      He wanted to leave in 2010…and was vilified by the fans.
      But fans are fickle and when he recanted he was cheered again.
      But The United fans dont actually LIKE him. And wanting a transfer TWICE wont be forgiven.
      He is OUT and good riddance.
      He fancies Germany apparently ….the problem is that in England only two other clubbs can afford his wages…City and Chelsea…would he actually make either of them better?
      Bale to United. Rooney to Spurs?

      • Fear Feirsteach says:

        I felt United should sell him on but with the transition now underway I’m not so sure. The ‘new challenge’ he claims to aspire to is at his present club. If he’s not up to it then good riddance.

  8. Fear Feirsteach says:

    I reckon Phil Neville would be a good choice as assistant manager.

    • Rooney or his agent could have killed off speculation about his future in the past week or so. But they have let it rumble on so I think he will go. His reception at last home game of season (will he even play?) will be interesting.
      I saw Phil Neville interviwed a couple of weeks ago and he was talking about coaching after retirement and I thought Manchester United as Youth or #3 Coach. phelan and Muelensteen (sp) could get a decent pay off as well as manage a decent ambitious team like …Wigan? In the Championship.
      United will have learned lessons from the Wilf McGuinness era ((he had retired early but was a contemporary of Charlton, Brennan, Foulkes etc) …he and Shay Brennan had actually been each others best man and they fell out when McGuinness became manager.
      I dont know if Phil Neville has all his coaching badges.

  9. Political Tourist says:

    Did Manchester United become “the” team in Ireland with the advent of television?
    From Waterford to the Waterside and FJH to Peter Robinson, all Ireland supports them.
    The sales of Manchester United club merchandise must be among the top selling of any sports goods in Ireland.

    • No…
      Manchester City and Manchester United are very different.
      An early proposal for re-naming after Newton Heath (the original name) was Manchester Celtic but the club became Manchester United.
      Founded initially by railway workers, United were regarded as the less respectable of the two teams.
      They had a corruption scandal in the early 20th century.
      In the 1930s the Board made efforts to have a team recruited only from Manchester but it never caught on, largely because United had become the club of choice for Manchesters Catholics (Irish and Italian) and the Jewish population…the migrants.
      Matt Busby, Jimmy Murphy his assistant and Johnny Carey (Irish) his first captain were all Catholics. And that enhanced the Irish connexion.
      Busbys vice was gambling and in the 1950s before high street bookmakers were opened, Busby had friends in the slightly illegal bookie business, which was in the hands of the Manchester Irish.
      Busby always had Irish players but arguably it was Liam Whelan the Dubliner killed at Munich who cemented the Irish link. He was a devout Catholic and according to survivors said that he was ready to die…when the plane went down the runway for the third and final time.
      Its also true that Harry Gregg the goalkeeper from Coleraine was a genuine hero and that Shay Brennan made his debut and scored two goals in Uniteds first game after Munich. He was Manchester Irish and was actually the first English born player to play for Ireland.
      my cousin is a priest and was ordained for the Salford diocese in 1959. He was a regular at Old Trafford.
      In Eamonn Dunphys book, he quotes Dennis Law as not believing the number of Catholic priests and bishops who were at games.
      My cousin the priest served in some other Lancashire towns and was the priest at the wedding of two players,one of whom went on to play for United.
      We used to get The Universe…a Catholic newspaper in the 1960s and almost every week, there were articles about Nobby Stiles, Brian Kidd both St Patricks Collyhurst…Tony Dunne, Brennan, Foulkes, Crerand, Burns, Fitzpatrick, Sartori etc etc…weddings, baptisms etc…
      If you remember the old ITV Comedians programme, United were the butt of several relegation jokes in early 1970s including George Roper ” they have a new priest at Old Trafford…Farther Down”
      The first and only time I took my dad to Old Trafford April 1976 …versus Everton…my father typically fell into conversation with a priest, who it turned out knew my cousin and he brought us into Old Trafford to meet some players but they had already gone into the dressing room and the only one we met was the big Scottish centre half Jim Holton, who was injured.
      Happy Days.

  10. Political Tourist says:

    That would explain things to a degree.
    The George Best and others scenario i take it would account for the Peter Robinson side of Belfast.
    As i have mentioned previously the “blue” side of Glasgow would regard Manchester United as something apart.
    Wearing a Manchester United at the wrong time and the wrong place, maybe best not done.
    I don’t think i’ve ever seen a United shirt on the streets of Glasgow.
    Massive club up there with the Barcelona’s of the world and only three hours drive away.
    Maybe people wear the shirts indoors.
    Strange one.
    And the green side of a certain age would have their own thoughts on the retired manager.
    As i said, grudging respect all round.

    • Peter Robinson isnt a United supporter.
      I heard he was Chelsea or Spurs and liked to wind up MartinMcGuinness who is a United fan.
      Nigel Dodds is Everton.
      Mark Durkan is also United but his nephew Mark H Durlan is Everton mad.

  11. Apologies for being incommunicado FJH, the joys of living in a country where being physically active is pushed by all and where I subsequently did my shoulder in 🙂

    I have to give it to Fergie, he lulled us all into a fall sense of security that he would stay on for at least another year and then, BAM, he’s off.

    I love Fergie, I do. I’m a Spurs fan myself but for me he is the absolute pinnacle of sport. His attitude, his addiction to winning at nearly any cost and his lack of sentimentality are lessons for all to learn.

    As for your current crop or v4.0 of Fergie’s Utd team; I do share some of your concerns that they are nothing on v3.0 (Ronaldo & Tevez’s Utd.) but there is a part of me that thinks perhaps this team is getting a rough ride. In defence, you guys are pretty solid, Evra is still better than most out there and up front RVP has been an excellent acquisition, one I thought was massively over priced due to him being frequently injured but I have plenty of egg on my face now and will put my hands up and say I WAS WRONG, he’s been amazing.

    As for Rooney, I can see why he’s frustrated. Part of it is his fault, part Fergie’s. He has been shunted around the field to try and plug a few gaps Utd have on the wing (Valencia, Nani and Young have not been good this season, this will be a major headache for Moyes to try and sort out) or in the centre of the park as your attacking midfielder/tri-quartesta which you guys lack at the moment, but he too needs to focus on his game and what made him feared for seasons. Physically, he is fine now and I do think that the line about him being out of shape is over played a lot, there is no way he would get on the field out of shape and to be honest, the days of Paul McGrath and the boys being out on the raz on the Friday and turning up hung over and with a kebab in their belly are well and truly gone, these guys nowadays have the builds of middle weight boxers and fitter than ever. Don’t believe me? Go to google and compare an image of someone playing in 2000 with nowadays, the puppy fat is all gone and the muscle mass is far greater.

    What should Moyes be looking to bring in? A proven centre back (Chellini would be your next captain, he’s a warrior), an attacking midfielder or two (you don’t have the money for Bale but Modric will be surplus to requirements at Real), a winger for the right (Kagawa will come good on the left, he’s pure quality) and someone versatile to bridge the gap between midfield and up front (Vucinic would be ideal but who knows, he’s in the middle of something at Juve so Jovetic from Fiorentina maybe or Michu?)

    Interesting times FJH, my mates and I usually prefer this part of the season over the football itself, it’s like a sports fan’s version of Now or Heat magazine 🙂

    • I cant see Modric being a United player.
      Bale is one we would take.

      Michu….thats an interesting one.
      A lot depends on whether Spurs lose out on 4th place …its not in their hands.

      • Bale is £40m plus (at least) and you guys won’t splash that kind of money unless someone else goes the other way and remember, we have a wage cap in place so this would prove a massive hurdle (see Adebayor for instance, City pretty much gave him to us for free as the fee we paid came back as making up his wage difference between what we can afford and what he was getting paid). Also, Levy will be loathe to sell to another EPL team, he could go to Spain instead though (Barca need to make some changes) or maybe even Italy (Gentleman Moratti loves him and Inter are notorious for having a great set up where players love to be).

        Felliani would be perfect in the centre of the park for you guys. He does a lot of different things, links the play very well, technically excellent and hard working, he can do box to box and would be someone who could replace Scholes, he would thrive at Utd. Mou is out of Real and they will start to dump some players, he’s a squad player at the moment and he was Jose’s buy so unless Carlo Ancelotti (who should be taking over next season) likes him or has plans for him he is out the door for a decent price. He likes England, he likes playing free flowing, attacking football and he is young enough, he has Utd written all over him.

        Bale, I think and am 80% certain, will stay with us next season. He’s making all the right noises, however, it is football and anything can happen, that’s why I love it! 🙂

        Go for Michu, he’s top quality, though Sid Lowe thinks you guys may have Radamel Falcao wrapped up, if that’s the case then you have just bought Europe’s best striker, he’s unstoppable and unplayable.

      • Bale will know he can get a lot of money elsewhere.
        The choice may not be Levys to make.
        When does Bales contract run out?

      • 2016. When it comes to a player leaving Spurs, it’s always Levy’s decision to make :). He will get his pound of flesh for any insolance, he he he.

        The point I am making though is that for Levy, yes, if someone wants to, nay, demands to leave, fine, they will leave. However, unlike many Chairmen, he does exact the price he has in mind for them and he has exercised a lot more control on their departure. I think after the Carrick debacle he has moved the club incrementally to one where we are a lot more in charge of how a departure happens. First, we had Berbatov and his strop. He left for Utd, sure, but we got our valuation for him.

        Then Modric and wanting to go to Chelsea and for less than our valuation, A firm no and told he could go but only to a very big club and for our valuation. Again, Levy had some 4 years left on Modric’s contract which gave us the leverage and hey presto, he goes to a big, non EPL club and for our valuation. Further, we replace him with a better player for less (Moussa).

        If/when Bale leaves it will be for a scandalous amount of money and on Levy’s terms. Levy is a tough character in many ways but I am glad he is our chairman as he has proven (of late) he has done what is necessary to move the club forward.

      • I didnt realise that Bale was tied up for so long.
        It will be interesting to see if he is unsettled” (as the agents say) 😉

      • It’s Levy’s way, decent length contracts for those who he knows others will want in the future. He even extended Modric’s contract a year before he went to Madrid to 2016 too, he was on £30k or thereabouts a week, peanuts compared to what he was offered elsewhere.

        No chance of decent players running down the clock and doing a Bosman at the Lane, no matter how unsettled they get. The game then becomes one where, for a player, it is way too long to wait to go on strike or something like that and it is not in their best interests not to try and perform to the best of their abilities, so they are stuck there until a decent offer comes in that tallies with Levy’s objections of selling someone for a profit and to someone he wants to sell and who can be replaced readily at a discount, Modric being the perfect example. With that cash we got Moussa and Clint which has more than made up for this loss to Madrid, in fact the team has definitely moved on for the better, wouldn’t you agree?

        You guys should even think about Iniesta or Alonso, the latter has 12 months on his contract with Real left and would sit neatly beside Carrick, acting as a fulcrum that you’ve lacked over the past few years, spraying forwards and wingers in the pocket, in essence, acting like a quarter back a la Pirlo.

      • Have to say that Carrick had a decent season. But if Spurs dont take the fourth spot…then I cant see Bale staying on those wages. English (in his case Welsh) players on the continent are a rare breed.
        I think if Spurs get fourth…he could stay.
        If they dont get it….he will go.
        Either way…a long summer for Spurs fans.

      • Carrick did have a good season, credit where credit is due though it’s been a long time coming.

        Again, re Bale, I think he will stay, that’s according to the pundits on ESPN Press Pass and over at the Guardian, but sure we’ll see what happens.

        As for him wanting to go abroad, he has noted it is something he would like to do and has no problem with. Like I said,Barca, Real, Inter or who knows, Bayern but not an EPL team.

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