Since David Moyes has taken over at Manchester United a lot has changed. West Bromwich Albion’s victory on Saturday was their first at Old Trafford since 1978 and United’s third defeat in the league already this season. Last season the champion’s reached mid-November before suffering their third defeat of the season.
The oddness of United’s twelfth place position, even at this early stage of the season, further underlines the role Sir Alex Ferguson played at the club. Not only was the Scot an exceptional motivator and tactician, he was also the master of football psychology. Opponents were often defeated before kicking a ball.
Coupled with this, Sir Alex had the media under complete control. Never was a United game deemed ‘must win’ for an under fire manager. Rarely were statistics on home defeats, games without a win or goals conceded presented. Seldom was team selection or squad rotation questioned. This was Ferguson’s strength. It was earned thanks to years of success. How Mourinho, Benitez, Mancini and countless others before them would have liked similar treatment.
This is the real strength of Sir Alex. David Moyes doesn’t get this treatment. The current Manchester United manager is already being treated differently. Ironically, this means being treated like every other manager in the Premier League.
The first word cloud is David Moyes’ first interview as Manchester United manager back in July. The second word cloud is generated from extracts (as complete as possible) of the six league games the Scot has taken charge of this season. Take a close look.
Obviously, it's too early to say just what sort of impact this slow start will have on Manchester United's title defence. The transition from Ferguson to Moyes was always going to take time. Any new manager needs time to instil his football philosophy into his players. If people question his ability to do this, they may be 'going after the wrong villian'. Maybe Sir Alex' greatest talent wasn't tactics, team selection or squad rotation; just an ability to keep the media at bay so that his players could express themselves with the minimum of doubt placed upon their shoulders. David Moyes may need to learn this trick fast.