Life after Sir Alex Ferguson has always been inconceivable, but all good things do come to an end.
Old Trafford erupted as Anthony Taylor blew the final whistle; Manchester United had won their 20th league title in convincing fashion against Aston Villa, courtesy of a Robin Van Persie hat-trick.
Celebrations commenced around the stadium as several United players had won their first Premier League title including the likes of Van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, and David De Gea, just to name a few. There was an enchanting mood around Old Trafford especially when Sir Alex Ferguson joined the celebrations, singing along with the team and supporters ‘It’s Carrick you know.’
United claimed another league title under Ferguson, and there was a sense that the United manager was in the process of assembling another dynasty that would dominate domestically, and possibly European football in a few years. In Ferguson’s programme notes prior to the Chelsea match on Sunday, Ferguson stated,
“I certainly don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special. This team of champions are not going away,” Ferguson said.
“We are here for the long ride. We will get better and, if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion, I see our 20th League title as nothing but the start of another decade of success,” he said.
Three weeks after that historic win against Aston Villa, Ferguson announced that he’d be retiring at the end of the season, after 26 years under the helm of English football’s most successful side. During his time at Manchester United, Ferguson has claimed 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns and five FA Cups.
Ferguson, 71, is stepping down as United boss on a high, as he wrestled the Premier League title from local rivals Manchester City. Although Ferguson will no longer be manager of the Red Devils, the Scotsman has stated that he will be the ambassador and director of the club, going forward.
With that being said, this left many curious as to who would take over Ferguson’s reign as United manager. Over the past 48 hours, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes were in the midst of the conversation, as both men look destined to leave their respected clubs in the summer.
Throughout Ferguson’s tenure at United, the Scotsman has been known to make choices that were better for the team. Mourinho and Moyes, both 50-years-old, have gone through different career paths; with age and their impressive man-management skills being one of the few things they have in common.
Over the past decade, Mourinho has shared his trade in four different countries, winning several domestic trophies, along with matching Ferguson’s Champions League tally. The Special One has become one of the flashiest managers in world football and is currently the highest paid.
Although the Portuguese manager’s CV is outstanding, his duration at these clubs has been quite short, and his departures have created problems long-term for most clubs. His ability to motivate players and push them to exceed their talent is undeniable, but it certainly leaves a physical toll on his players.
With Inter and Porto, Mourinho won domestically and on the continent, but his decision to face another challenge abroad, deprived many of seeing what he could achieve after attaining European success, specifically at Inter. The Nerazzuri was in need of imminent rebuilding, but failed to do so, and are still struggling to cope, three years after Mourinho’s departure.
At Chelsea, Mourinho’s first two years were glorious, introducing a 4-5-1 system, in a Premier League that was attached with 4-4-2. His powerful side bullied teams, claiming two Premier League titles in his first two seasons. In his third season, heavy reliance on prolific striker Didier Drogba, along with the emergence of a stronger Manchester United side, saw Chelsea concede the title that season. Mourinho was sacked in September 2007, and it took the club six years to finally step away from the Special One’s shadow.
Mourinho’s three-year cycle looks to be concluding at Real Madrid as well. For the most part, Madrid has looked a shadow of the side that won La Liga with 100 points last season. Both on and off the field incidents, the substantial reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo, along with his failure to evolve Madrid’s identity as merely a counter-attacking side, has led to his downfall. There’s no question that Mourinho would continue to succeed at Manchester United, but the club is looking for a long-term solution. Mourinho has yet to display longevity throughout his career, and looks unable to evolve as a manager after a three-year period, which is why he’s not the right man for the job.
In Ferguson’s retirement statement, the Scotsman expressed his gratitude to those who have helped him over the years, as well as why it was the right time to step down as manager.
“It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so,” Ferguson said.
“In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team,” he said.
Managers don’t receive enough time and patience from demanding owners in modern day football, but David Moyes has at Everton.
Moyes started his career in 1997 managing a Preston North End side that was determined to play Premier League football. Moyes led Preston to winning promotion in Division 2, and a year later lost in the Division One playoff final, which is now known as the npower Championship. The Scotsman joined Everton in 2002, and has become one of the top managers in the Premier League.
Moyes has been in charge of the Merseyside club for 11 years, but has failed to emulate the accolades that Mourinho has achieved, as Moyes has failed to win a trophy during his time at Goodison Park. According to whoscored.com, the Scotsman has won 40.5% of Everton’s 425 Premier League games during his tenure, which is a decent tally based on the resources available.
A 2009 FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea, along with their appearance in the 2005/2006 Champions League qualifying round, where Everton was eliminated by eventual semi-finalist’s Villareal, has deprived Moyes the recognition he fails to receive from the average football fan. Moyes can boast about potentially achieving Everton’s fifth top-eight finish in a row, which is impressive considering the amount of money the teams around the top of the table have spent.
A few weeks ago, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini expressed his appreciation for Moyes.
“In 10 years he has made the club stronger and has positioned us just outside the top four or five clubs,” Fellaini said.
“We don’t have the same budget as Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham either, yet we are still doing well,” he said.
Moyes has overachieved during his time at Everton based on the personnel available, and it was time for the Scotsman to pursue a new challenge. The Scotsman brought the Merseyside club to a level that many fans could only dream of a few years ago, and it’s the best he can do with the funds available – mainly because his rivals for European spots continue to spend.
In the past Ferguson, has shared his admiration for what Moyes has achieved at Goodison Park.
“David has had to contend with not having a strong financial structure. He has to get the best out of the players he has had available and has done an amazing job,” Ferguson said.
“No matter how many players he has had injured he produces a team that has represented the club very well. He is a first-class manager,” he said.
Like Ferguson, the 50-year-old has great man-management skills as he constantly gets the best out his players. The Scotsman has been responsible for the development of a few top players such as Wayne Rooney, Mikel Arteta, Joleon Lescott, Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines during his time with the Toffees.
His sides have succeeded due to a joint team effort, rather than the reliance on a specific player, as the club has never possessed a legitimate world-class talent. Moyes has shown that he’s not afraid to give youth players a chance, and he has a keen eye for young talent. The Scotsman may not be the flashiest hire, but he possesses stability, continuity, and a dedicated work ethic that has caught the eye of not only Ferguson, but also the Manchester United board. Manchester United director Sir Bobby Charlton praised Moyes, as he believes the Scottish manager is the ideal man for the job.
“I have always said that we wanted the next manager to be a genuine Manchester United man,” Charlton said.
“In David Moyes, we have someone who understands the things that make this such a special club. We have secured a man who is committed to the long-term and will build teams for the future as well as now. Stability breeds success,” he said.
Moyes has evolved during his time with the Toffees, but many are skeptical about his inability to claim silverware.
The Scotsman has been known for approaching games negatively against the top four sides, (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal) as he’s failed to defeat these clubs away from Goodison Park in 45 attempts as Everton boss. It’s also no surprise that only these four sides possess a lower loss percentage than Everton (30.6%), since Moyes has joined the club.
Tactically he takes a reactive approach when playing these sides, aiming to nullify their weaknesses, which could explain his dismal record. Everton tend to defend in two banks of four, whereas their attack consists of wingers stretching the play looking to play in dangerous crosses, energetic fullbacks getting forward creating overloads at will and strong centre forwards holding up play and getting on the end of crosses from wide areas.
The 50-year-olds inexperience in Europe has also been a concern, especially for a Manchester United side that is desperate to lift their third Champions League crown. Moyes’ CV may not be enticing to United supporters, but the same could be said for some of the top managers in world football today.
Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola were men that lacked European experience and trophies prior to being appointed manager at their current clubs. These three coaches in particular, have succeeded domestically, and have made a statement in Europe despite their inexperience – so United fans shouldn’t be worried. Although it’s a big gamble hiring a manger without any European experience, history shows that it could reap great rewards, especially under the guidance of Ferguson.
Moyes’ six-year deal with Manchester United is a big step in the Scot’s career, but a step that he deserves. Succeeding arguably the greatest manager in the English game will be a nervy task; however Moyes’ team structure, longevity, Premier League experience, tactical comprehension and a great eye for youth talent make the Scotsman an ideal candidate for the job.
Ferguson had a few positive things to say on Moyes’ hiring,
“When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes we unanimously agreed on David Moyes,” Ferguson said.
“David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I’ve admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of Assistant Manager here,” he said.
He was a young man then at the start of his career and has since gone on to do a magnificent job at Everton. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this Club,” he added.
Ferguson was searching for a manager that could bring continuity to a well-assembled side that need to improve in certain areas. With more funds available to spend, and the guidance of Ferguson, the sky is the limit for Moyes.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in one day.