Manchester United legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson; has broken his silence on David Moyes’s troubled tenure at Manchester United, saying the former Everton manager underestimated the size of the job, dismissing the theory that he was also partly responsible for the club’s decline.
In an updated version of his book, My Autobiography, Ferguson has pointed the finger squarely at Moyes for the club’s struggles last season and rubbished suggestions that he was influential in the appointment of his successor. Moyes was sacked in April just 10 months after he had been branded ‘The Chosen One’ but Ferguson has hit back at accusations that he left behind an ageing squad and an “antiquated” club when he finally retired after 26 years in charge.
The book, released on Thursday, is Ferguson’s first in-depth account of the Moyes regime and he is adamant that his fellow Scot simply found the step up from Goodison Park to Old Trafford too big. He writes: “He hadn’t realised just how big United is as a club.” Sir Alex Ferguson also criticises the slower playing style that had been introduced, adding it went against the club’s traditions, and that he witnessed first hand Moyes’s self-belief crumbling with each poor result.
“As the results deteriorated, each defeat was a hammer blow to him,” he adds. “I could see that in his demeanour. In January we bought Juan Mata and that gave everyone a lift but I could see the walls squeezing in, leaving David with less and less room to breathe. “I know that feeling from 1989, when we went through a terrible spell. You feel you are being crushed. The results gnawed away at David. Nobody could dispute how disappointing the season was. And it cost a man his job.”
Particularly disappointing for Sir Alex Ferguson was witnessing United’s arch-rivals Liverpool claim the upper hand in the title stakes. While Brendan Rodgers’s men challenged for the trophy, United failed to even qualify for Europe.
“It’s hard to watch that kind of outcome when Liverpool are the ones dishing out the pain. It was a rough season for a United fan and it was tough for me because I knew there were plenty of good players in our squad. They weren’t showing their form – and that seemed to place a huge weight on David’s shoulders.”
Moyes was eventually sacked after an insipid defeat at Everton, which confirmed their absence from this season’s Champions League. Ferguson says he was not consulted over the eventual sacking of Moyes, claiming that he was out of the loop when it came to the final decision to dismiss him and then appoint the “formidable” Louis van Gaal. “I was in Aberdeen as the events unfolded. On the Monday, I was flying back to Manchester and sitting next to me was a lad with a newspaper that ran: ‘David Moyes to be sacked’. I was unsure what was happening at that exact moment.”
Regarding a rumoured hotel meeting he said: “I would like to know which hotel, because I wasn’t there. Nor were Bobby Charlton, David Gill or Mike Edelson.”
Sir Alex Ferguson also attempts to put to bed what he considers one of the major misconceptions of Moyes’s reign – that he was solely responsible for the appointment. Ferguson writes that the Moyes role was a “Glazer-led one” and that “We did everything the right way: quietly, thoroughly, professionally”.
He wrote: “A clear process was followed. Surely people don’t really believe the Glazer family would allow the new manager to be chosen by one person. There appears to be an accepted view out there that was no process. Nonsense.”
United are thought to have worked off a shortlist of four or five names, including Jose Mourinho, who was already highly likely to return to Chelsea. Moyes, who was out of contract at Everton, was the most available of the top candidates.
Sir Alex Ferguson had recommended to David Moyes that he retained the services of Mike Phelan, the former assistant manager, but the new manager opted to recruit his own backroom staff. “I suggested he should keep Mick Phelan, who would have been a great help. Mick knew the club, could guide David and was loyal, 100 per cent United.
“As the new arrangement settled down, I retained a respectful distance. At the same time – was I meant to disappear? I was a director of the club I want to watch, and support, Manchester United, and David was never troubled by my presence at games.”
To summarize, Ferguson didn’t even give Moyes a choice in the matter. That’s how certain he was that only David Moyes could carry on his success. And with that in mind, here’s Alex Ferguson’s list of what was to blame for this situation not working out.
-Not Sir Alex Ferguson: First and foremost, David Moyes “hadn’t realized just how big United is as a club,” Ferguson writes. The real question should probably be whether someone who had never won a trophy or managed a “big club” was prepared for such a jump. But, like Sir Alex, let’s skip that one.
-Not Sir Alex Ferguson: Was the selection process for his successor carried out properly, considering Moyes somehow didn’t realize how big Man United were? Of course, says Sir Alex. He writes: “There appears to be an accepted view out there that there was no process. Nonsense. We feel we did everything the right way: quietly, thoroughly, professionally.”
-Not Sir Alex Ferguson: Was the squad he left behind simply not good enough? No way, says Sir Alex. He writes: “It was a rough season for a United fan and it was tough for me because I knew there were plenty of good players in our squad. They weren’t showing their form – and that seemed to place a huge weight on David’s shoulders.”
-Not Sir Alex Ferguson: Was the system he had in place antiquated? Of course not, says Sir Alex. He writes:“Antiquated was a bizarre description of the structure I left behind at Manchester United. Have you seen our new training ground?” Sadly, books don’t have rimshots.
-Not Sir Alex Ferguson: Did he leave a team that was too old and destined to fall off? Preposterous, says Sir Alex. He writes: “Chelsea started the current season as favorites for the title, with a squad that also had six players in their 30s. I don’t hear any grumbles about the age of their group.”
-Not Sir Alex Ferguson: Did Moyes ruin everything by bringing in his own backroom staff instead of retaining the one Ferguson already had in place? You bet he did, says Sir Alex. He writes: “Maybe David felt that at such a massive club he had to be sure that all corners were covered in terms of his support system. I felt that network was already there, with plenty of great people already in important slots.”
But wait, didn’t we already establish that Moyes didn’t realize “just how big United is as a club”? If that was the case, why did he feel the need to have all corners covered at “such a massive club”? Surely Ferguson has an full and not at all contradictory explanation for why his ghost writer is 100 percent at fault for this discrepancy.
Anyway, there you have it. Blame for the problems that have befallen Manchester United in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s move from manager to club director fall solely on the unprepared guy who was given the job and not at all on the powerful man who decided to give it to him without even asking for his thoughts on the matter first. Autobiographical case closed.
Van Gaal’s first three months at United have been equally difficult, with the club already 10 points behind Chelsea ahead of their clash with the league leaders on Sunday.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson is convinced the Dutchman will rebuild United’s shattered pride and help them recover from a difficult 12 months. “If I had to choose one word for him it would be ‘formidable’. His urge is to play attractive football. He likes to watch players play and players train and to be involved at all levels including in the development of young players.
Sir Alex Ferguson also amazed with Louis van Gaal big summer signings for Manchester United. “Louis knows what’s he’s looking up too.. He’s clean up the desk and create new of his own attractive philosophy in football. He’s has tremendous experience in football … He’s knows what his doing in the club now and Manchester United will do fine.”
“As the big decisions began to be made, I was delighted to see Ryan Giggs appointed assistant manager, which was a terrific decision by Louis. Louis could help Giggs learn about this business. In turn Ryan could help Louis in understanding the inner workings of Manchester United.”
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