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We have received a fair amount of flak of late from United fans for our gentle mocking of David Moyes' initial performance at Old Trafford. This is, of course, to be expected. Such is our overwhelming loyalty to our clubs that it is our natural and immediate reaction to jump to their defence. Part of this is self-preservation - we are not prepared to even think about how bad things actually may be or may become, whilst the rest is simple outrage that someone could be seen to be criticising our beloved.
Let's be clear, we are not treating Moyes any differently to Roy Hodgson during his time at Liverpool or Steve McClaren at England. When those in the highest-profile positions suffer, they invite criticism: that's simply the nature of the beast, and why they get higher wages - the higher they climb, the further they fall. Sam Allardyce, Martin Jol and Ian Holloway have all received significant criticism for their underperformance this season, and Moyes will face the same. That's just the way it goes.
One main concern for United supporters and Moyes' defenders (and that includes Gary Neville after his staunch (and rather fanboy) defence in the Mail on Sunday this morning) is that United's new manager doesn't currently seem to have the ability to ever say the right thing. Or, more importantly, when to say nothing at all.
"We were very close to a major, major signing back in the summer. It's easy now saying it and we didn't do it but we were really close to a major signing and the club would have definitely shown what they're worth. It wasn't for money, that's for sure. The players had chosen other clubs or made their decisions elsewhere."
The quotes above were released on Manchester United's official site late last night, just hours before Moyes and his side faced a must-win match at Villa Park (all league games now fall into that category). The club's official Twitter feed then promoted the story, even including the quotes in said tweets. This was not a stitch-up or a twisting of words - the source was the horse's mouth. Over 1.5million followers read with eyebrows raised, and United received replies laced with both anger and incredulity.
But why? Why admit that you waited until it was too late before trying to throw money at expensive targets that had already effectively agreed to moves elsewhere? Why admit that despite being reigning Premier League champions you were unable to attract a marquee signing that you felt would give you the impetus to progress? And why admit that despite Neville's insistence that this is a club that "takes a stand against the immediacy of modern life" you were prepared to do something fairly immediate by spaffing the transfer budget on Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo? Alex Ferguson's success at United wasn't founded on a reliance on huge signings. Of course such players arrived, but these were blended with a commitment to making the very best of their lot and the team more than the sum of its individual parts.
And so what? So what if you have the money? Liverpool had money in 2011 and 2012 and spent almost £100million on Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Fabio Borini. Having money may not be the issue, but being trusted to spend it wisely may well be. Marouane Fellaini is Manchester United's fifth most expensive ever signing, and he has started three matches since the beginning of November, with a return of one red card and two points. United have still won just one match in all competitions with Fellaini starting, against Bayer Leverkusen in September.
Any why now? Just two weeks before the transfer window re-opens, this is clearly not the time to reveal that high-profile players turned down your summer overtures. It simply sends a message of weakness and of vulnerability ahead of January. And for Moyes it demonstrates the excuse that he couldn't possibly be expected to succeed with this squad without significant investment.
Most importantly, what good do quotes such as these do? Before a league game, there is little to be gained by hammering home to some of its members that they are currently not considered good enough and would ideally have been replaced by stellar names, whilst those that escape the veiled criticism are made aware that their club failed to land its biggest names. And what of Marouane Fellaini, who has now had it made pertinently clear that he was a back-up option. And a back-up option at £27.5million.
Finally, Moyes' words only ever reflect badly upon himself. "The players had chosen other clubs or made their decisions elsewhere." This isn't a problem that Manchester United have experienced for the best part of two decades, and less than 18 months ago the Premier League's top scorer was delighted to join. "Manchester United breathes football. If you look at all the players from Manchester United, the stadium and manager, my choice was made very soon."
The best managers know exactly when to say anything, everything and nothing. They use their media interviews (and particularly those with their own official streams) to issue rallying cries and calls to arms. Admitting weakness, however, is a dangerous game, and a lack of ability to attract proven talent or evident potential is an alarming weakness for United to possess.
After all, everything hasn't changed since Van Persie signed with glee. The players are the same. The stadium is the same. The owners are the same, and their commitment to spending, Moyes himself claims, remains the same. Only the manager (and his self-recruited staff) has changed. United's on-field performances are alarming enough without David Moyes preparing his own coffin, hammer and nails away from the pitch.
Daniel Storey - follow him on Twitter
Only idiots think that players never reject clubs. Pretty much every team has a long and glorious list of missed attempts to recruit players so who cares if Moyes admits as much. The key is going to be can he (a) work out what the right midfield setup is (b) can he populate it with top quality players (c) can he do the same in defense (d) can he do (a) thru (c) before Rooney quits in disgust and before RVP falls to pieces- maxbethune