English Premiership

Why Moyes failed at United

2014-04-22 11:46
David Moyes (AFP)
London - David Moyes was sacked as Manchester United manager on Tuesday, less than a year after being appointed as the successor to Alex Ferguson.

Here, AFP Sports looks at five key reasons why the Scot failed to survive his first season in charge at Old Trafford:

Coaching cull

Moyes's first major decision at Old Trafford proved to be one of his worst.

By parting ways with Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele and replacing them with his Everton staff of Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden and Chris Woods, he culled a respected coaching group with experience of what it took to succeed at United.

Meulensteen's parting shot proved prophetic. "I said to him: 'David, with all due respect, you've done a fantastic job in the Premier League with Everton, but do you realise you're going from a yacht to a cruise ship?' Ferguson, the captain, had a good crew with people like me. David didn't understand that, he wanted familiar faces."

Transfer lethargy

Although he did not officially take charge until July last year, Moyes had no excuses for the lethargic and chaotic start to his transfer dealings with United.

His appointment had been rubber-stamped two months earlier, allowing him plenty of time to quietly sound out potential new recruits and their clubs.

But instead Moyes appeared caught off guard by the underwhelming response to his eventual bids, which led to spurned approaches for Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Ander Herrera and Leighton Baines.

That in turned prompted a panicked Moyes to overpay for his former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, whose cumbersome, lacklustre performances became the on-pitch representation of his manager's own unsubtle and ultimately unsuccessful approach.

Failure to win over players

Despite repeated denials from both parties, the apparent friction between Moyes and striker Robin van Persie seemed to be one of the key factors in the manager's failure to succeed.

Van Persie played a major role in firing United to the league title last season, but the Dutch forward showed little appetite to perform for the blunt Moyes, who lacks the inter-personal skills that made his predecessor Ferguson such an effective manipulator of his squad.

He struggled to win over other senior players including Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, with the latter revealing the first visible cracks in the Moyes reign in December when he publicly criticised the manager's habit of naming the team at the last minute, claiming it "was enough to turn you into a madman".

Rudimentary tactics exposed

United supporters accustomed to free-flowing, cavalier football under Ferguson quickly grew tired of Moyes's defensive and negative tactics, which often left his team looking bereft of poise and purpose.

Moyes had used the same conservative philosophy at Everton, but on Merseyside it was excused because the club's lack of spending power left them over-matched against the top teams.

At a club of United's vast resources there was no reason to employ such tactics, but Moyes persisted, with the nadir coming against struggling Fulham in February when the champions once again resorted to a route one approach and made a Premier League record 81 crosses, but were still held to a 2-2 home draw.

To add insult to injury, Cottagers defender Dan Burn compared United's style to a non-league team when he said: "I was just saying to the lads that I've never headed that many balls since the Conference."

Derby despair

One of the more damning indictments of Moyes's reign was United's utter failure to impose themselves in the fixtures that matter most to the supporters.

Ferguson relished winning the blood feuds against Manchester City and Liverpool and regularly showed his disdain for United's two biggest rivals, dismissing big-spending City as "noisy neighbours" and revealing his delight at knocking Liverpool "off their perch" at the top of the league in the 1990s.

But Moyes, no shrinking violet in his public utterances at Everton, was strangely subdued when it came to the verbal jousting that set the tone in the Ferguson era.

Moyes was never able to strike the right note and he enraged supporters by suggesting Liverpool were favourites before their trip to Old Trafford, which ended in a 3-0 romp for the visitors, and then claiming after a 3-0 home defeat against City that they were a club United must "aspire to".

Lacking any fire in their bellies, United succumbed to four defeats from their four league meetings with City and Liverpool - the first time that had happened since the Premier League's inception in 1992.

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