The LUFC Prophet on “Why Moyes Never Stood a Chance at Man U” – by Rob Atkinson

Ta Ta, Taggart

Ta Ta, Taggart

As a Leeds United fan, I don’t get many chances to say “I told you so”.  I’ve made two football bets recently, and I’ve paid out twice – a fiver to a Newcastle fan who told me to my disbelief they’d lose at home to some Premier League no-hopers (and they did), and a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate to my Barnsley-supporting postman who bet me we’d beat them at Oakwell. I didn’t mind paying out on that one.  My only chance of coming out ahead now rests on a tenner I have with a mate which says Arsenal will win the Cup.  Fingers crossed…

But in matters Man U, I was a prophet of peerless foresight as long ago as July last year – when I forecast that David Moyes was doomed to failure at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  I reasoned that the brooding presence of eminence grise (avec le nez pourpre) Alex Ferguson would do Moyes no good as he sought to make his own influence the guiding light at the Pride of Devon.  I figured that he would be hampered by the proximity of the ex-boss – just as happened before, 40-odd years ago, when Busby stepped down but refused to go away.

Well, I did tell you so – and lo, it has come to pass.  Whatever now happens to the fallen champions-turned-also-rans, it should be noted that some of us out here saw months ago that there’d be tears before bedtime round Salford way. I might be accused (accurately) of wishful thinking – but the logic behind my prediction has, I feel, been shown to be impeccable.  Below is what I wrote on July 7th, 2013 as Moyes was setting out his stall as Man U manager.  I will not gloat over his downfall – but the fact that he has brought the club I detest down with him is extremely amusing and satisfactory.


There are worrying signs already for the inheritor of the poisoned chalice that is the Old Trafford hot-seat.  David Moyes has been gathering his own people about him as he sets forth to put his own stamp on the Man U machine – but Moyes will be grimly aware that The Ghost of Alex Ferguson Past is the least of his worries.  The man himself will be there all too often, all too real and large as life, in the flesh and walking the corridors of power down Trafford way.  It’s the presence of the former boss that is likely to make an already difficult task that bit less easy for the 50 year old heir to the throne.  If you know your history, you’ll be aware that Wilf McGuinness, the successor to Matt Busby, had to go about his work with the Busby factor still about the place, the old man still visible backstage, the players saying “Morning, Wilf” to McGuinness – but “Morning, Boss” to Busby.  He didn’t last long before the sainted Matt was back to try and steady a sinking ship. His successor, Frank O’Farrell, didn’t do much better.

You might hope, for Moyes’ sake, that Ferguson will have the forbearance to stay away from the training ground and the stadium when the day-to-day business of running the club and the team is going on.  Perhaps he will, but media pressure is already a clear and present danger for Fergie’s successor. The press don’t want to let Fergie go; he’s been a rich source of copy for them for so many years that many hacks who have covered all matters Man U can hardly remember a time when he wasn’t there – and they want to stay snug in their Fergie comfort zone, with their cosy old stand-bys of the hair-dryer and the stop-watch.

The signs were there even at Wimbledon this past week.  Fergie took his place in the Centre Court dignitaries’ enclosure to support his compatriot Murray, and the commentary box fizzed in a fever of ecstasy as that familiar purple face gazed o’er the scene.  The cameras lingered lovingly on those craggy, ravaged features and many were the cutaway shots of Fergie’s reactions as Murray laboured to his victory.  Afterwards, the desperation to lever S’ralex into the post-match interview was as cringingly embarrassing for the viewer as it was perplexing for Murray, who perhaps naively expected tennis questions.

The message was resoundingly clear: Fergie is still The Man as far as the press are concerned.  Reports of Moyes’ early press conference at Old Trafford leaned heavily upon comments such as “Fergie would have approved of Moyes’ flash of temper”, “Moyes displayed a Fergie-like tenacity” and so on and so forth.  There are clear indications that every word Moyes utters, every decision he takes, will be viewed in the light of “what S’ralex would have said/done” – and clearly, this is bad news for anyone wanting to to make the job his own and do it his own way.

It might even be interesting to speculate on whether Moyes would perhaps quite like to be portrayed in a different light to that which has shone on the Man U manager this past 27 years.  Moyes seems a sensible and modest chap after all, any similarity to his predecessor appearing limited to the accent and the obsession with the game.  A departure from the arrogance and overbearing nature that has characterised the club during Fergie’s reign might be welcome to such a relatively pleasant bloke, but it appears unlikely to be allowed judging by the tone of some of the press quotes from this preparatory phase of the season.

We are given to understand, for instance, that late last season Moyes was honoured with a personal visit to his home from The Fergie Himself.  “I thought he’d come to tell me he was taking one of my players”, said the ex-Goodison boss, to an unheard and incredulous chorus of “What the hell…?” from Evertonians everywhere.  So this is how the Old Trafford club have been used to operating in the transfer market?  Hmmmm.  But instead of airily notifying a “lesser club” of an impending transfer swoop, Fergie was there to tell Moyes he was the next Man U boss.  Not ask, tell.  Moyes’ eager compliance was taken as read.  The Man U brand of arrogance, it seems, will take more than a change of manager to eradicate.

I’m not particularly worried about the prospect of Man U being less successful in the next few years, and of some of their legions of fans being seduced to supporting clubs closer to home, such as Torquay or Spurs or Nagoya Grampus Eight.  I’d be quite happy with that; I have no love of the Trafford-based franchise or the way it operates.  But I am slightly concerned for Moyes himself, who seems a decent cove, and who I can see going the same way as McGuinness went; a proper football man crushed by the weight of recent history and cowed by the long shadow of his immediate predecessor.  For Moyes’ sake, I hope that doesn’t come about, but all the signs are already there that it might.  Only Fergie himself can decide to remain in the background, the media are far too much in love with the myth they have created to let him go easily.

Perhaps, though, Fergie will actually do the decent thing?  I somehow doubt it.

26 responses to “The LUFC Prophet on “Why Moyes Never Stood a Chance at Man U” – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I really do hope that you are wrong sbout Moyes’s future. Moyes is an O k guy NSF he has a lot to offer and a little bit to prove. I am sure that he will find tenure at one of the big English clubs. He will need to learn to handle egotistical, big name players and to attack as much as he defends. Just a little more adventure going forward and flair! In my view his mistake was taking all of his own team. I believe that he should have used the experience of the team coaches thst were there in the transition for st least two seasons. They were in the know, understood the culture and the players. There was too much change all at once in coaching and not enough in bringing quality players in. So, it wasn’t all his fault, was it!


  2. Man the scum utd are not a football club just a commodity on the new York stock exchange.To get the share price up sack the manager shares up 7%.= $200 million. A few insiders made a killing on this sir alex included .At least the new York stock exchange smell a rat over this and are investigating the matter.Look on bright side Rob we got Massimo the scum got the Glaziers(con artists) AS for Moyes he gets a £5million pay off not bad for 9months work .


  3. I’ve no sympathy whatsoever for anyone connected with that club. He’s a millionaire now so why worry about him? At least they had the sense to write into his contract that he would only be paid for the first year of his contract if they didn’t qualify for Europe. (Unlike gfh with BM,now we’re stuck with the greedy useless twat until he recieves a handsome reward for sheer incompetence).I thought moyes was doing a grand job there,they’ve dined at the top table for far too long. Now they can sit at the picnic benches with the rest of us and feast on humble pie. What’s this about giggs being a wife beater? I missed that story,tell me more?


  4. redheadedanimal

    The myth is really unravelling over there now isn’t it! All the time trying to purport they are holier than thou and above the hapless oiks below them. They have shown that when push comes to shove, they are as classless as it comes. Backstabbing, boardroom leaks, player unrest, short term fixes, heavy debt and mediocrity. I’m afraid Manure fans, that is the truth about your foul, repulsive excuse of a football club.

    Rob, your unswerving dedication to demystifying the unspeakable red brand reminds me of David Walsh’s pursuit of Lance Armstrong. Ridiculed by outsiders at first, but proved spectacularly right come decision day.


    • I appreciate that – but the truth is, I hate them so much, I occasionally wonder if I might just be a tiny bit prejudiced??

      Ah well – what the hell 🙂


      • redheadedanimal

        Being prejudice doesnt always mean getting in way of truth. Just makes finding it more fun!


  5. patrick hogan

    I don’t know if you listened to Radio 2 at lunchtime on Tuesday Rob, but as I drove from Chapel Allerton to Yeadon I listened appalled. A national radio was first of all interviewing Terry Christian and then conducting a phone-in from fans all discussing the plight of ‘United’. They get enough unfair media attention (how much national coverage did O’Leary’s sacking get?). It was still going on when I got out of the car.

    It did have an hilarious upside though. At one point the presenter admitted that they’d had hundreds of calls but put out an appeal for one from a fan that that actually lived in Manchester. And they still didn’t get one! And the last caller I heard speaking was from Launceston. Admittedly not Devon, but not bloody far away.


    • The logical end to that determination to canvass fan opinion came later – when Five Live assured us they were still talking to fans and had reporters in Bangkok, Nairobi and Singapore. It’s true. I nearly bust a rib laughing.


  6. Me too,he’s got the look and demeanour of a primate. You can almost picture him and cantona fighting over the tyre swing.


  7. scottywhites

    good read again rob, i remember that article you wrote and i thought you might have bin wrong but yet again you were right i bow to you,i thought that with what he did with everton was pretty good on a shoestring budget,thought with the so called big club and there riches he would reign at top two for a few years.
    But fergie knew what he was doing he knew he had a crock of shit players for this season and passed the book to moyes to fail i love the man [moyes] he has made my season with whats happened at ELLAND RD this season in my book it makes moyes a bit of a legend was we paying him to disolve scum from the inside[i hope so] a couple of my mates support scum and they used to go once a month to the theatre of hollow myths but havent bin since before xmas,were on the other hand me being a leeds fan in the hart of lincolnshire have bin to 6 home games and 3 away games iv bought this seasons shirts they havent, LEEDS UTD have the only real supporters in the uk i read most of your articles rob you always make me smile keep em coming …………….MOT my friend
    oh big respect to the lad on tna wrestling this week with the LEEDS shirt and banner we are EVERYWHERE


    • That LUFC prophet thing was tongue in cheek, trying to provoke a few of our simian friends from Lancashite – but there WAS a certain amount of mild satisfaction in predicting such wondrous failure 🙂


  8. Only scum would hire a man that shagged his brothers wife to manage them. Mrs Rooney look out rumour has it your next on his hit list. All of a sudden its feels great to be LEEDS fan again.(HAPPY DAYS)


  9. That’s exactly right rob , as long as old purple nose is hanging around the players won’t see anyone else as boss , so give the old twat his own little throne and let him fiddle while the Rome burns is what I say ….


  10. Oh I do hope this is the start of the end for the scumers, my friend put on Facebook that Clatenburg couldn’t wait to give desisions against them in favour of Liverpool. I posted back “you’ve got a nerve! Manure have had refereeing desisions in their favour for the last 26 years”

    Another quote I read was “Moyes has tried for years to get Everton to Finish above Manure, n now he has achieved it” LOL

    Keep up the good work Rob, always entertaining MOT


  11. So basicly Moyes wasn’t enough of a twat to manage man u then.

    Nevermind manure fans, I’m sure giggs will be a success with all the players keeping one eye on the missus the other on the pitch 😀


  12. Hi rob , just took Leeds to win 3-1 on sat with Ross Mc to score first ,, 80/1 .. So you can call me a prophet on sat night too if it comes off


    • You’re out on a limb there Mr O! I fancy 1-2 I’m afraid. Brum will be desperate and Leeds apathetic. Hope you’re the prophet this time 🙂


      • Mr orange

        Well here’s my logic rob ,
        Ross Mc is desperate for 30 goals this season and he knows he’ll be hard pressed against derby next week , brum have the worst home record in the league and bmac also knows with derby next week that this is probably his last chance to impress cellino and hope he’s still got the job next term , we beat them 4-0 at home so to me it all adds up to a Leeds win with Ross Mc busting a gut to get his 30


      • That does sound logical – but why on earth are you applying logic to Leeds United?? 😉


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