Walking under the shadows of the greatest is not the easiest thing to do. And if you don’t believe me, David Moyes must have a lot to say to you. 26 years, just under 40 trophies and one richly deserved knighthood, when you think of Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s the stats that do the talking.
The longevity of his tenure is simply jaw-dropping but when you spice up the platter with the silverware he stacked up during the time, things get too hot to handle. Winning for him looked like a habit, a habit that spoiled every Man United fan that has ever been since 1990.
For a quarter of a century, Sir Alex Ferguson was the boss of all things. Be it the witty managerial mind-games or the art of getting his side to score late goals, no matter what he took up, he made sure he won. For the majority of United faithful, he was Manchester United. So when the master decided to call it a day, everybody got their prediction hats out.
Media and the fans had their favourites. The bets were on, the verdicts were out. But then there was Sir Alex who was known to defy the odds. And it was this unpredictability that showed when the new “gaffer” was revealed to mark the beginning of the new “era”.
Former Everton boss, David Moyes was the man. Fergie’s last rabbit off the hat. The decision took everyone by surprise. A man who had never won any elite trophy in his managerial career was to replace the one who had won the most in England. The appointment was so shocking for some that they began to cry (looking at you, Mourinho). The task ahead of the Scot was daunting and as he took charge of the club, it showed.
Sir Alex and Sir Bobby Charlton were behind the decision-making and they chose ability over success, stability over silverware. The idea was to not unsettle the club and aim for longevity, which in former’s case led to success. David Moyes was hence the closest to Sir Alex in the genre. The former Preston North End boss had everything, but was bereft of silverware.
Such was the impact of Fergie’s retirement, that Manchester United made the worst start to a Premier League season ever. Just like the media, minority of fans started to doubt. The weight on his shoulder is immense and there’s been nothing to indicate that it’ll drop.
But then, grass never grows green under a canopy, does it?
Everything around David Moyes is indicative of the success United have had in the past. A reminder that’s more intimidating than comforting. Every time he puts his head up in agony on the touchline, he has himself staring at the Sir Alex Ferguson stand. Every time he rejoices, fans greet him by singing “play like Fergie boys”. So, now you know exactly how Brian Clough must’ve felt when he replaced Don Revie at Leeds back in the 70’s.
Yes, Moyes has not been an immediate hit. Yes, he seems to lack the ruthlessness of his predecessor. But that does not take away the fact that he is a top notch manager. A manager who believes in youth; something I mentioned in one of my Sportskeeda articles, a manager who wakes up all night to know about the traditions of the club, a manager who greets everyone the same – be it the groundsman or the maid. A manager who believes in details and in relations.
It’s not just David Moyes who’s faltering, it’s also the fans. To expect the present squad to perform like the “Fergie boys” is a crime. “Believe” has been the motto for the 20-time champions for a long time. And belief is exactly what they’re missing. Patience pays off.
And as for David Moyes, he needs to make his name on his own terms. Walking in Fergie’s footsteps is not the only option. He has his own boots to fill, for his very best is yet to come out.
Blows will come, it’s upon him if he takes it as a punch in the face or as a shot in the arm.