When the news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement first broke on Wednesday morning, the world was in shock. Even the BBC was pushing out a line that him leaving the game was equal to the changes brought about by the dismantling of the Berlin Wall (maybe only slightly carried away there guys…!) If you had asked me at the time who the next manager of Manchester United would be, there would have only been one name on my lips, and it WASN’T David Moyes!
As I checked the latest odds on the next manager straight after the announcement, I could see that it was already down to just two people in the eyes of the punters – Jose Mourinho and David Moyes, both being offered at 2/1.
On the one hand you had a charismatic coach who is generally accepted to be the best in the game. He’s won Champions Leagues and Championships in numerous countries, speaks 6 different languages fluently, is used to coping and getting the very best out of players with massive egos – even whilst leaving them on the bench – and can change matches with his tactical insights (as he did in the Champions League match against United).
This coach has always said that he wanted to come back to England, and also that he wanted to work for a club that had real history. He also made a charm-offensive to the fans when he told them that ‘the best team lost’ at Old Trafford, and raged against the officials for Nani’s sending off on their behalf! He wanted the United role, and would have relished the opportunity to build on close-friend Fergie’s legacy.
On the other hand you have a guy who had done a solid job at a small club (sorry Everton fans!), with a bunch of honest pros (led by Phil Neville and Darren Gibson for heavens sakes!), hasn’t won anything, hasn’t got any experience of big-time players or big-time transfer-fees, doesn’t know much about playing in Europe, and is barely understandable in his native language, let alone any others.
And yet David Moyes has been given the job?!
Whilst the United board will pat themselves on the back for getting the man who Fergie recommended at a knock-down rate, the opportunity they have passed up was extraordinary.
It could have been a match-up between the best coach in the world with one of the very best young squads in the world, with Mourinho’s tactical nous and experience helping to take United to a new level, where they would be competing on a global stage, vying against Bayern to become the next team to define an era.
Mourinho wants to settle down at his next club and create a legacy, and United could have been perfect for him. And with longevity in mind, he could have been persuaded to give youngsters more of a chance than perhaps he has given at previous clubs. In my eyes it would have been a match made in heaven.
Add in the fact that you are also nullifying the threat from Chelsea (which is where it looks like Jose is heading) and you could say that United have missed a trick on two points.
For what it’s worth, I think David Moyes will do a reasonable job at United. He’s solid, will get the players working hard, and will be pragmatic. He’ll probably win a few titles with the squad Fergie left, but I wouldn’t be expecting sublime football, and wouldn’t expect him to be able to out-tactic Guardiola, Mourinho et al. He’ll be average. A bit like Antonio Valencia – a good player in his own right, but just absolutely useless when compared to Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a few years time, once Chelsea have returned to the top of the English game courtesy of Jose’s skill and Roman’s money, I can’t help but think that the United board will be left thinking ‘if only…’
What do YOU think? Tell me on twitter – @ftbllr