Despite numerous clubs dealing with managerial changes this summer, no club is taking a plunge into the unknown as much as the Red Devils. Following the unparalleled 26 year reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes is the man who finds himself in the manager’s office at Carrington. Moyes will have had quite a culture shock over the last couple of months, having gone from the calm and comfort of Goodison Park into a number of situations which would have bothered even the great Ferguson. Moyes had his first taste of the intensity of the global media spotlight that follows Manchester United as United travelled Asia during their pre-season tour, as well as having to field questions about two of the summer’s biggest transfer sagas. Moyes and new chief executive, Ed Woodward, have spent much of the offseason pursuing Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas, only for it to emerge, to the embarrassment of the club, that they were misinformed and the player was never interested in the move. Then there’s the small matter of Wayne Rooney’s apparent unhappiness. The champions have publicly acknowledged that they have turned down two bids from Chelsea for Rooney, and are standing firm that he is not for sale. Before the first ball has even been kicked in the league, Moyes must already be feeling the strain.
Manager: David Moyes
David Moyes began his managerial career, while still a player, at Preston in 1998. When Moyes took over as manager, Preston were mired in a relegation battle at the bottom of the old Division 2 and facing the drop to the bottom tier of the Football League. Preston stayed up though, and within two seasons they were Division 2 Champions. Immediately after that, Moyes guided the same group of Preston players to the Division 1 Playoff Final, where they lost 3-0 to Bolton. After this impressive feat it was only a matter of time before a Premier League club came calling for his services, and when Everton parted ways with Walter Smith in March 2002, Moyes got his chance. Moyes time at Everton will be remembered as a great success as with very little funding, he cemented Everton’s place in the top half of the table as perennial contenders for European spots. Moyes two biggest achievements at Goodison Park were probably clinching a Champions League spot with a 4th place finish in the 2004/05 season and reaching the FA Cup final in 2009. When Ferguson retired, Moyes was earmarked as his choice to replace him, and within a matter of days the appointment was announced. Moyes was chosen as he offered stability and continuity, but to expect anyone to continue in the vein of Ferguson is to place them under unfair pressure. Moyes himself has been brave since taking over the job, getting rid of Ferguson’s asssistants Mike Phelan and Rene Meulensteen showed that he will be very much his own man. Along with bringing his own staff in in the shape of Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden, he wisely recruited former United players, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, as well as current player and club legend Ryan Giggs, to be part of his backroom staff. Now all that’s missing for Moyes as the season approaches is some signings. Having pronounced earlier in the Summer that there was no limit to funds, Moyes will be heavily criticised if he fails to strengthen the squad, particularly in the midfield area. If there are no new arrivals before the deadline shuts, prepare yourself for the whispers of what would and wouldn’t have happened under Ferguson’s watch.
Key Player: Michael Carrick
As little as two years ago, to describe Michael Carrick as a key player for United would probably have resulted in uproarious laughter from the faithful of the Stretford End. Yet that is exactly what he has become. With the brilliance of Robin Van Persie, Michael Carrick’s outstanding season went largely unnoticed last campaign. Carrick was equally as big a part in the Red Devils winning the league, as he was the one who controlled and dictated the pace of play. Carrick was second in the league’s pass completion stats last season with over 2400 passes successfully executed. In what was definitely his best season since joining from Tottenham, Carrick ran the show for perhaps the first time, and he will be relied upon even more this year. Paul Scholes, who led the league in pass completion percentage at 93%, has retired, and for good it seems this time. There’s a question mark over whether Darren Fletcher will return as he continues to be plagued by health problems. Anderson’s fitness is often a source of ridicule, and Tom Cleverley has yet too truly prove himself as cut out to be a Manchester United player. In other words, if Michael Carrick was to get injured, United’s midfield would lie in tatters. So although it has taken him quite a while to get there, Michael Carrick is now the conductor of the orchestra, and without him United would likely fall flat.
Much of what Manchester United can achieve is going to be decided by their business, if any, in the last couple of weeks of the transfer window. It’s not the case that United do not have a strong enough starting eleven to win the league, more that you’d worry about their depth in certain positions if injuries were to hit. United have been heavily linked with Marouane Fellaini from Everton and Ezequiel Garay from Benfica, and both of these players would do much to alleviate these fears by strengthening the spine of the team. That would still leave the issue of Rooney. If United can keep him, and have him happy to stay, that would mean they have sufficient attacking options, and if talismanic striker Robin van Persie (pictured above) was to get injured they could adapt. If it is impossible to keep him happy though, United should cash in fast, even if that means selling to a bitter rival. In this scenario, Moyes could adopt a change of formation and play van Persie up front with Japanese star Shinji Kagawa (pictured below), in his favoured position just behind the striker. Either way you would expect Kagawa to be much improved this season, with a years experience of the Premier League now under his belt. The likes of Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra and Giggs will be as reliable as ever, and young Spaniard David De Gea should continue to make great progress in goal. One thing is for sure, David Moyes first season in charge at Manchester United will not be a dull one.
By Adam McGee(@AdamMcGee11)