It's is one of football's accepted clichés, but Liverpool's form this season makes a mockery of the term 'team in transition'. It's just a weak facade for failure...
Football managers are often lauded for their mind games, man management and tactical planning. Isn't that the least we should expect, given that it's their actual job..?
The coverage of the saga of a failing Manchester United side is getting crazy. United have lost seven games and look, not like a top four side who are failing, but like a seventh placed side who are hitting par.
A memo seems to have gone out to the football media saying, 'Don't blame Moyes. Blame anyone else, but not Moyes.' This isn't helping anyone, least of all Moyes himself who looks like a small creature lost in a big wood. A big dose of realism is needed if this half a season slide isn't to become the thin edge of a major decline
I've noted the most commonly voiced excuses as to why United are no good this season. They are as follows:
'Following Ferguson was always going to be difficult.'
The sub text to this is United's failings are Ferguson's fault not Moyes. Now, obviously, following someone so successful means the standards set are high. But - and this is crucial - it means you inherit a team that are already winners, who know how to win, who are self-confident and are basically the best team.
It's not like taking over Sunderland and having to somehow make old cart horses any good. Also, a change can re-energize, refresh and re-inspire any organisation. Old tired methods can be replaced with exciting new attitudes. This can invigorate everyone but only if the new man actually capable of re-energizing, refreshing and re-inspiring. Moyes can't or hasn't; quite the opposite. So it's him, not Ferguson to blame.
'It's not a good squad.'
More than most of the Moyes excuses this is patently silly. The squad was plenty good enough to win the league easily last year. By no means does this mean another win was inevitable this year but also, by no means does it mean that they should be 14 points behind Arsenal and playing terribly.
They're damn good players who are capable of playing damn good football and they've proved this. Making them out to be a bunch of hapless clowns is not credible. It's the same squad only with the addition of a promising England international, Wilfried Zaha. A title-winning squad doesn't become a seventh placed team with the addition of a excellent young talent due to being poor players. The only major change is Moyes and his backroom staff. So failure must be their fault to a large degree.
'Ferguson pushed the players to perform above themselves last year.'
Yes, he did because he was a great manager but this ability wasn't unique to Ferguson. All great managers have it. Indeed, it is one of the qualifications to manage one of the biggest clubs on earth. You have to make the good great. The fact Moyes can't do this with the same players shows how far short of that standard he is.
'Other clubs have improved and overtaken United.'
Other clubs have improved and this has made the league more competitive. Imagine how far behind the leaders United would be if there were one or two superb, dominant sides. The league winner this year is likely to lose at least five games. If United had been just a little bit less awful, they'd still be in the top four now.
But this is Manchester United, the golden brand of world football, so why did they fail to recruit better players so spectacularly when they were Champions? Moyes' supporters would have us believe it was nothing at all to do with how attractive United seemed under a new, unproven manager whose only real touted asset seemed to be to get a club to about sixth or seventh without spending much money (which he's doing again this season). But it must be.
Maybe potential new players all saw that was an irrelevant skillset to United and kept their distance. You can't divorce the prospect of being managed by Moyes from the process of attracting new players, however competent and incompetent your board are. Moyes presence is inseparable to the transfer policy success or failure. On what evidence would a crème-de-la-creme player believe Moyes was worth playing for. What answer would or could they give?'
'He's been unlucky with injuries.'
All clubs have injuries. You have to work around it and still grind out results. Ferguson was superb at doing that. All the best are. All the absence of Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney proves is that Moyes can't get enough out of their replacements to win games. The injuries might excuse not winning the league but they can't excuse being 14 points adrift, being detached in seventh and playing so poorly.
'He's a good manager who just needs time.'
If the suggestion in this excuse is that the longer he's in the job, the better he'll be at it, then where is the evidence for this? Even his biggest fans point not to Everton's upward curve of ever increasing success but to their plodding consistency of competence. He didn't get better at that job, he got to a level and then went no further.
According to Opta, he has now managed 48 Premier League away games at Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester Utd without winning a single one. Where in this truly appalling record is there evidence that time will help him be better?
Of course, there's always the possibility that somehow Moyes will emerge from his chrysalis of ordinariness to become a butterfly of football brilliance but let's not pretend this is anything other than hope. This is a man with a well-documented career. He's not an untried youngster. We can see all too well how he manages and what he can achieve. His record at United is pretty much par for the Moyes course. Seventh.
These mealy-mouthed Moyes excuses have been pushed at us since the first loss of the season. Moyes is a British manager with existing press relationships to support him. God help him if he was foreign. But come on. Let's get real. We can all see the fear in his eyes before, during and after games; a fear which must be obvious to the players too. At times his touchline desperation is almost physically painful to witness. The pressure of the job seems to have actually made him smaller and the televised walk along the touchline to the dug out an excruciatingly self-conscious form of torture. And the interviews he does, well, they're just not helping. At times it sounds like he's not talking about United at all but some smaller, less important club. A club like Everton, perhaps.
The pro-British manager press has helped bail him out so far, but it won't be able to do so for much longer. Not only has the emperor got no clothes, he's not even an emperor.
If Moyes was to leave or be sacked tomorrow would a mid or lower table side take a gamble on him?- godsaveourkeane