Tag Archives: David Moyes

Moyes to Continue his Impersonation of “Sir” Fergie – But is he REALLY Nasty Enough? – by Rob Atkinson

Fergie Teaching Moyes How To Be A Complete Bastard

Fergie Teaching Moyes How To Be A Complete Bastard

It still looks as though rookie Man U manager David Moyes is determined to continue with his attempts to appear as a “Fergie Lite”, a watered-down version of his tyrannical predecessor.  There may well be those who will speculate that Moyes is receiving the benefit of some tips in “How To Lose Friends And Intimidate People” from past master “Sir” Alex Ferguson.  Lesson One was evidently “How to whinge”, and resulted in an ill-advised bleat about facing Liverpool, City and Chelsea in the first five Man U league games.  This was swiftly followed by “Arrogance for Beginners”, manifesting itself in a nasty little dig at former club Everton for “holding back the careers” of their players Leighton Baines and  Maroune Fellaini.  In this context, “holding back careers” evidently meant refusing to let Man U buy them at a cut price.  Moyes claimed that, if he were still the boss at Everton, he would of course not stand in the players’ way, letting them follow their hearts’ desire which is naturally to play for Man U.  Everton fans are, understandably, less than impressed by this bold assertion and have been busily engaged in slaughtering Moyes in the Twittersphere.  Fellaini eventually made the move to The Dark Side for a less than bargain £27 million or so.

The suggestion that Moyes as Everton manager had a less than robust attitude to protecting his own club’s interests in the transfer market was hinted at previously when Moyes was telling of how he was approached to take over at the Evil Empire.  It would seem that he received a call from The Great Man himself, the one and only Alex Taggart, large as life and twice as purple.  Moyes confesses that he had no idea it was about the Man U job, and assumed that Fergie was calling him to “let me know he was taking one of my players”.  Again, this is a soundbite calculated to enrage any proud Toffeeman, and it doesn’t go down too well with fans of other clubs outside the Theatre of Hollow Myths either, the clear inference being that all Man U have to do to sign the player of their choice is to casually let that player’s current club know that a deal will be done.  If that really was the extent of the Trafford-based club’s influence over the game as a whole, then frankly they have grossly under-achieved in not winning every cup, every year, ever since Uncle Rupert bought the game for them.

Whatever the case, Moyes now finds himself on the business end of this power gradient, and he clearly seems determined to make hay while the sun shines.  If this means re-inventing himself as a sort of less puce Alex, then – seemingly – so be it.  Those of us who have spent a productive lifetime hating Man U and everything connected to them, may just have had some worries about a “nice guy” like Moyes making our task of despising them that bit harder.  It would seem that, after all, we had nothing to be concerned about, and that Man U under Moyes appear likely to continue to be as intrinsically despicable, arrogant and annoying to proper football fans as they have ever been.

This will naturally please those lost souls in Devon, Milton Keynes and Singapore who still count themselves as hardcore Man U fans (since 1993), but for the rest of us who had hoped that football would be a nicer and more wholesome place without Sir Taggart, the sad truth is that it’s probably going to be business as usual – though hopefully without all that ill-gained silverware.  Because Moyes may talk the talk, but he’s done nothing as yet to suggest that he’ll be able to walk the walk.

Happy Days Are Here Again – Bring On the New Season!

Good Riddance, Taggart

Good Riddance, Taggart

The best football season since the mid-eighties (apart from 1991-92, obviously) is almost upon us.  Despite the recession, austerity, bankers bonuses and the scandalous price of a pint, I’ve rarely felt so positive and optimistic about the immediate future.  Even the fact that Leeds United are crap, and will almost certainly remain crap despite the best efforts of poor old Brian McDermott, my outlook is one of sunny anticipation and excitement for the feast of football that awaits my tired and cynical old eyes.  And why?  I’ll tell you why. It’s because Fergie’s gone, that’s why.  Say it again and say it with relish.  Fergie.  Is. GONE.

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t his annoying habit of winning things for the Mighty Man U that bothered me.  It wasn’t his oft-paraded bloody stop-watch held up as a mute instruction to the ref regarding time-keeping.  It wasn’t even his arrogance over whether he chose to adhere to various rules which bound other managers, things like press interviews, his notorious BBC ban, stuff like that.  The fact that he clearly considered himself above mere rules was irritating, but not on its own the reason why I loathed him so much.  It was none of these things in isolation.  And after all, when he lost it was such a pleasure.  Thank you Leeds in ’92, Blackburn in ’95, City in ’12 and a few others.  But it didn’t happen often enough, and really, he was almost as horrific in defeat as he was in – shudder – triumph.

The real problem with Fergie was the sheer, all-round, ever-present, all-pervading unpleasantness of the man.  His particular brand of arrogant Glaswegian gittery and the way in which he held sway over the entire game and media too – the whole Fergie package – that’s what got my goat.  Whoever we support, we’ll have had managers who crossed the line in this or that respect, and made you see why fans of other clubs regarded them as less than nice.  But Ferguson exceeded all these limits, most of the time – and not in a good way.  Comical defeats apart, I really can’t think of a solitary redeeming feature.  If I absolutely HAD to put my finger on one thing that annoyed me above all else – it was the demeanour of the man when he was happy, when he’d just won or when Man U had scored a goal.  Sadly, these events happened all too often, and the results were always utterly repellent.  When the Mighty Reds scored, there he’d be, emerging from his dug-out in that annoying daft old man shuffle, fists clenched and waving in uncoordinated celebration, casting a glance of odious triumphalism at the sullen members of the opposition coaching staff, champing away happily on his ever-present wad of gum while his nose throbbed an ugly shade of victorious purple.  A most unpleasant sight.

Happily though, it is one we shall behold no more.  Fergie has retired upstairs, where his baleful presence need be of concern only to the inheritor of the poisoned chalice, David Moyes Esq.  Moyes may wish to cast his mind back 43 years to the effect a newly-retired but still-powerful-in-the-background Busby had on HIS successor.  But that is his problem.  All we need wish is that an early and unceremonious exit for Moyes – should he fail – isn’t a signal for the caretaker return of the Govan Guv’nor, just when we all thought that nightmare was over.  Perish the thought.

So I’m really looking forward to a Fergie-less season, and even to the slight bewilderment of the assembled media, who will be wondering where to brown-nose, who to target for their obsequious flattery.  Again, their bereft sadness is not my problem.  I’m just going to enjoy the football scene as it will appear to me – bright and shiny, replete with promise and optimism after the removal of that horrible, nasty man.  Man U will be that bit more difficult to hate, with the really-quite-likeable Moyes in charge, however long that lasts. But I’ll manage, it’s in my DNA as a fan of the One True United after all.  And Mourinho is back, and Wenger is still there – men you can’t help but respect and admire.  It’s going to be a good season in the Premier League, something I can really enjoy for once, whatever my beloved Leeds United do to screw things up one division lower.

And it’s all thanks to That Man finally being gone. Hallelujah!!

Man City Will Bounce Back

Mancini: Sacked

Mancini: Sacked

Events at Manchester City this last day or so were flagged up well in advance – the media screamed “Mancini Out!” from every outlet – and despite scornful denials by the man himself, and messages of support from the fans, you felt it would turn out to be a case of “no smoke without fire.”

Even so, the news when it arrived, poignantly on the very anniversary of that last-gasp Title triumph, was a shock of sorts.  The club moved swiftly to justify their action – Mancini had “failed to meet football targets”, it was said.  Criticism was made too of his inability or reluctance to communicate, of an aloof and arrogant attitude, of his lack of interest in club matters below first-team level; specifically an apathy where bringing youngsters through was concerned.  Clearly all was not sweetness and light on the good ship City, and the mystery of their rudderless run-in for the league campaign, and how they sank without trace in the second half of the FA Cup Final may not be such a mystery after all.

In the odd spare moment I’ve had this season to glance upwards towards the Premier League summit, and away from Leeds United’s mid-table Championship toilings, City have puzzled and frustrated me.  At the outset, they seemed well-equipped to mount a reasonable defence of their title.  There were clearly two sides to this equation.  On the one hand, the squad at The Etihad was, in my view, the best in the Premier League – rivalled only by that at Stamford Bridge.  On the other – Man U are notoriously capable at employing a siege complex in order to use resentment to fuel their fightback.  They are also, undeniably, helped in large measure by the number of weird decisions that seem to go in their favour.  The away game at Chelsea was a good example of this, when Torres was sent off for being fouled by a Man U defender already on a yellow, and then the Salford side scored a late and clearly offside winner. This sort of thing tends to pepper Man U’s most successful seasons, and it’s not an attractive facet of the Premier League.

I’ve never subscribed to this “van Persie made the difference” nonsense.  I’m sure he made A difference – but not that much.  It’s been a stroll for Man U in a league in which they should – by all considerations of relative quality – have struggled to finish third.  Chelsea have had their own problems.  The phrase “Interim Coach” needs nothing added to it for an explanation of their failure.  But Man City was a conundrum, and it is only now, in the wake of Mancini’s sacking, that we are perhaps gaining a more complete picture of what things were like behind the scenes.

Now a tell-tale tweet from former kit man Stephen Aziz may have shed some light on just how negative the atmosphere has been at Man City.  The phrase “arrogant, vain and self-centred” appeared briefly before the tweet was removed. And there was more: “no manners ignorant just some of the daily traits really made going into work a daily grind!! #karma”.  That’s all pretty damning stuff, and quite frankly at top professional level, it doesn’t take one tenth of that apparent level of unhappiness and discontent to derail a club’s bid for honours completely.  This, more than the failure to pick up a trophy, may well be what lies behind Mancini’s abrupt departure on the first anniversary of his finest hour.

Man City fans feel an understandable affection and loyalty to the man who has given them their finest moments in over thirty years.  I too recall the expression on his face as City hammered Man U 6-1 at The Theatre of Hollow Myths, and I remember thinking that here was a man who would end up as loved as Malcolm Allison in his late-sixties incarnation, or Colin Bell, or any one of City’s heroes you may care to name.  He had the opportunity to instill himself into the DNA of the club, but – inexplicably – it looks more and more as though he’s been too arrogant to see the need to treat people as they need to be treated, and has therefore lost his fledgling Legend status.  The City fans will always remember him, of course.  He delivered, albeit at the last gasp, and put an end to an aching void where they’d won nothing as their despised neighbours cleaned up.  Of course he will always have a place in the collective City heart.

The next appointment is vital, however.  If City get it right, the quality of this squad can carry all before them next season.  Man U have a rookie at the highest level, and must expect a bedding-in period.  This year has been bizarrely tilted away from the finest talent in the league.  Next year may well be very different.

Moyes? A Strangely Unambitious Choice

"Eh - by the waaaaay, Ah'll no' be leavin' ma whisky, wee Moyesy"

“Eh – by the waaaaay, Ah’ll no’ be leavin’ ma whisky, wee Moyesy”

David Moyes swiftly emerged yesterday as a heavily odds-on favourite to replace Alex Ferguson as boss at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  On the face of it, there’s an obviousness about this solution; Moyes has performed solidly for over a decade in the top flight at Goodison Park on a budget that, if not exactly shoestring, certainly lacked the munificence of the chests of bullion in other parts of the North West.  He has failed to win a trophy in that time but that is not in itself a criticism of any coach in an era when the silverware tends to go to the highest bidder.  The best coach around, M. Wenger, has been potless since 2007, after all.  Moyes has the appearance of a “safe pair of hands” option – someone who will come in and instigate evolution rather than revolution, a guy who can be relied upon not to depart too suddenly or drastically from the blueprint laid down by the man whose brooding presence upstairs will be a palpable influence on any new boy, whoever he might be.

This acceptance by Man U that Fergie will still be kicking about the place is tinged with danger; the lesson of history taught by the hanging-on post retirement of Matt Busby seems not to have been heeded.  The legacy of Fergie is more akin to a poisoned chalice than an inspirational example; the new coach on the block will have to set off on his hoped-for marathon at 400 metre pace.  There will be little chance or latitude afforded for any cosy bedding-in period at a club with a constitutional, almost Freudian need to be the biggest and the best.  A large proportion of their support has been conceived, weaned and nurtured on this propaganda and the last thing that any of them will want to feel is the chill blast of reality as the likes of City, Chelsea and Arsenal walk off with next season’s honours.  So Moyes (most likely) or whoever else it might be will simply have to hit the ground running, compete effectively at the highest level, placate a squad of big egos who are used to a very particular type of regime and solve the immediate Rooney wantaway (or wantanewcontract) problem.  All of this under the basilisk glare of elder statesman Fergie, glowering from a handy balcony over his former empire, hairdryer silenced but still handy.

The immediately noticeable thing about Moyes is his relative lack of European experience, and Man U is a club that sees itself as a European force despite the threadbare achievements on the continent under Fergie.  The other burning question that has to be asked then is: what would other European “giants” have done after losing a quarter-century institution as Man U have just done? Would they have plumped for Joe Bloggs from down the road, or would they instead have scoured the continent and beyond for a stellar personage of massive achievement elsewhere, someone whose CV is festooned with honours and who would breeze in expecting to maintain the winning habit?

It’s irresistible to feel that the latter would be the preferred option for your Barcas and your Real Madrids, your Bayern Munichs and – yes – your Chelseas, too.  In the immediate aftermath of the announcement that Fergie would be chewing his gum in the directors’ box next term, hopeful noises were emanating from the Man U-friendly press that The Purple-Nosed One might possibly be succeeded by The Special One, maybe even with one C. Ronaldo in tow.  It may yet be that Christiano brings his balletic skills with double-pike and twist back to Man U, but any prospect of Jose heading to Salford appears remote in the extreme – he is far more likely to be strolling down the Kings Road this summer.  Other ideally-qualified coaches have scrambled over each other in their haste not to queue up for the Man U job.  The poisoned chalice image appears to have lodged within the minds of Europe’s coaching elite.

So it is likely to be Moyes – not for his own sweet self, but more for the lack of any realistic alternatives.  It is this paucity of choice for a club like Man U – who were supposedly aware of Fergie’s retirement decision as far back as February – that is rather baffling.  Perhaps they expected Fergie would soldier on for a few years yet.  Perhaps also they weren’t expecting the grumpy Govanite to give up so easily on his ambition to overhaul Liverpool’s European Cup record.  But the emergence of crack teams from Germany as well as the still-formidable forces from Spain and elsewhere in England appear to have been a reality check for “S’ralex”, who must in his more coherent moments have realised that climbing the European summit again in the foreseeable future is a dimly remote prospect. It may well be that a “safe” appointment such as Moyes will serve to dilute expectations just enough to cure these fanciful notions that Man U could possibly break into the Continental elite.  Perhaps an FA Cup run and top four in the Premier League will suffice next season, and save Moyes from the fate of Wilf McGuinness back in the day.  But I frankly doubt it.

The King is dead.  Long live the King – but who, and for just how long?