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.