Tag: Manchester United

David Moyes & The Cult Of The Football Manager

The axe, which had been glistening in the background at post-match press conferences for much of this season, finally made contact with David Moyes’ neck this morning. Moyes’ departure from Old Trafford was a most modern managerial sacking. Trailed on social media, the lead item on the lunchtime news this afternoon, and with considerable excitement – in some quarters, at least – over the effect that the decision had upon Manchester United’s value on the New York Stock Exchange, the removal of the club’s manager couldn’t really have happened at any point in the past. David Moyes – appointed in the summer of 2013, became a laughing stock throughout the course of the previous nine months, has been sacked before the final whistle has even blown on this season. To blame the manager, however, can sometimes feel like a reflex reaction, football’s emotional equivalent to the involuntary jerking of the knee upon it being tapped by a medical professional. Football managers have become larger than life in a near-literal sense, charged with the job of defending their players way past the point of anything like rationality whilst devising sophisticated tactical plans the likes of which Machiavelli would be proud. In an era during which personality has become everything, the modern Premier League football manager has become something far greater than the sum of his parts and Moyes found himself...

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The Fall And Plateau Of Manchester United

It is more of an FA Cup word than a Champions League word. But there’s no denying that during their 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich this week, Manchester United were “plucky.” The FA Cup analogy is not entirely inappropriate. I’d missed the meetings where everyone was told that United were in for the sort of walloping Arsenal and Tottenham have almost patented in big EPL games this season. So I was a little surprised that United were so reliant on scrapping for scraps of possession…and for the gushing reaction this produced in ITV’s Old Trafford lair. Manager David Moyes’ Manchester United has been a disjointed, ugly watch. The flow of the better sides playing at or near their best, including – painfully for Moyes – Roberto Martinez’s Everton, just hasn’t come from Rooney et al this season. And it’s not as if Everton were ugly and disjointed under Moyes, not most of the time anyway, even if “ugly and disjointed football” could easily be what Marouane Fellaini would tell John Humphrys when asked for his ‘occupation’ on an edition of Celebrity Mastermind. I’m too young – just- to remember Wilf McGuiness’s Manchester United side in the immediate post-Matt Busby era. I can imagine, though, that there are valid comparisons to be made, even if history rarely recalls that McGuiness’s eighth-place finish in his only full season was an improvement...

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Manchester United’s Mournful Evening In Europe

It wasn’t even necessarily the result itself. A two-nil defeat in the first leg of a knockout competition can, with the right planning, be overcome. It was the nature of it. This was a Manchester United so devoid of life that it is possible to draw the conclusion that the team that strolled to the Premier League title at the end of last season has been kidnapped and replaced with imposters from the Planet Mediocre. Once Olympiakos had secured a two goal lead within ten minutes of the start of the second half – thanks, as if enough injury hadn’t been heaped upon them already, to a quite delightful goal from their Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell – the home side didn’t even really need to shut up shop. Manchester United had nothing in return, and nothing in reserve. And so it is that, before even the month of February is even out, the club that dominated English football so relentlessly for the last two decades sees its season spluttering to one final halt. Of course, it’s possible that David Moyes’ team could yet turn this tie around. We’re at half-time in this round of sixteen match, and the second leg will be played on home territory, after all. Quite where the inner reserves, that extra few millilitres of determination, are going to come from, however, is just about anybody’s...

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The Tactics Tank, Episode One: Manchester United vs Fulham

If all you’ve been doing of late has been going to matches every weekend, it may have passed you by that there is now a single, unified way in which we should watch association football which is a bit like looking at an Excel spreadsheet made by somebody that has taken too many magic mushrooms. Never ones to miss out upon the opportunity to leap aboard a passing bandwagon, we sent our tactical guru Pete Brooksbank to Old Trafford to watch yesterday’s match between Manchester United and Fulham. Unfortunately, however, he got drunk on the train, fell asleep, woke up in Carlisle and wrote this, based on what he thinks he read about it all on Twitter, instead. It was in a rare moment of sober clarity during a career curtailed by heavy drinking and excessive drug-taking that the erratic Bolivian coach Luis Revilla once observed: “Sometimes, the only way to win a football match is to not play a match at all.” The words may have been snarled nearly twenty years ago from tobacco-ravaged lungs in the smoggy offices of Nacional Potosi, but they were to prove oddly prophetic, as that was exactly the strategy deployed by Fulham at Old Trafford yesterday afternoon during an ignominious 90 minutes of EPL soccer that will surely rank as perhaps David Moyes’ lowest game as a coach. The statistics tell one story...

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“Downgrading MANU To Hold”: On Football And The Stock Markets

I had assumed that the strange whirring noise I heard the other day was one of the mini-tornadoes that has added to Southern England’s recent weather woes. Now I wonder if it was Manchester United legend Sir Matt Busby spinning in his grave so violently as to trigger storms across what cynics might consider United’s main catchment area. There was a scene in the 2011 BBC TV film United, about Jimmy Murphy’s post-Munich spell as Old Trafford boss, where Busby made a speech to Football League secretary Alan Hardaker which poetically summarised the two men’s outlook on football, Busby waxing lyrical about “grass and boots and… beauty” while bemoaning Hardaker as a man of “tables, graphs and points.” So what would Busby (at least as portrayed in United) have made of this news-in-brief item which Guardian journalist David Conn tweeted this week? Deutsche Bank downgrades Manchester United (MANU) to Hold: Deutsche Bank downgraded Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) from Buy to Hold with a price target of $16.00 (from $21.00). Analyst Doug Mitchelson expects greater player costs. “We now believe we were too conservative in our player cost outlook and have lowered our ests. We still see compelling growth over the next several years as MANU continues to unlock brand value, though valuation appropriately reflects this in our view,” said Mitchelson. “Positive catalysts remain, however we balance these against team performance...

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