Ed Woodward gets plenty of criticism (and some of it richly deserved), but Nick Miller describes a numbers man pushed into the Old Trafford limelight. It's not easy...
It's been a long time in the making, that Southampton Philosophy. And in one summer, it's all been ripped asunder. Has it been replaced by another or the same old?
The good news for Manchester United fans is that this time at least, their new manager will actually want and seek out the job.
David Moyes wasn't really given a choice about taking the biggest gig in the land, told by the most powerful man in football that he was bloody well doing it, whether he liked it or not. Presumably the scene when Sir Alex Ferguson called Moyes over to his house was a little like Ben Kingsley telling Ray Winstone he was coming back for one last job in Sexy Beast, only with more swearing.
Moyes was told he was taking a job he couldn't possibly turn down and was patently unqualified for, spending the last nine months or so demonstrating this perfectly, something that could have perhaps been predicted simply by his initial reaction ("As you can imagine, the blood drained from my face") to his elevation. A report in one of the papers this week claimed Moyes didn't like that risible 'Chosen One' banner because he thought it implied the job 'had been gifted rather than earned.' Well, at least he got one thing right.
One would expect that United have learned their lesson, and will recruit a manager who actually has experience of winning things, which seems like one of the universe's cruel jokes. After Ferguson, United's standards were so high that only a man with impeccable credentials would do, but they appointed Moyes instead. After Moyes the bar has been lowered so much that this will theoretically be an easier job, but now is the time that someone with those impeccable credentials will arrive.
So what does the new man need to do? Or, perhaps more accurately, what does the new man need to be? 'Be a better manager than the last chap' is, as advice goes, about as helpful as telling Mo Farah to 'run faster than that guy' or David Cameron to 'stop looking like a ham and be nicer to poor people' - seems fairly obvious, but easier said than done. Of course, that doesn't stop Robbie Savage from basing entire media appearances around similar pearls of wisdom but, then again, he's Robbie Savage.
Obviously the new man has various footballing challenges. These include, but are not limited to: buy at least half a new defence and sort out that midfield - something that between them both Ferguson and Moyes avoided for years like a troublesome but pressing tax return; keep Robin van Persie happy; try to find a use for Tom Cleverley; or try to find a buyer for Tom Cleverley; figure out a way to get Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa into the same team, for they seem to enjoy making beautiful music together; make sure Adnan Januzaj delivers on his absurd promise; now they're stuck with him, work out how to get more of Good Wayne Rooney - on his day one of the best forwards in Europe - and less of the Bad Wayne Rooney, on not his day a sweaty liability with the first touch of a traffic bollard. We could go on.
Sort a few of those out (though none are simple tasks) and he'll be golden, but perhaps the most important thing for the new Manchester United manager to do is to simply 'get it'.
It was interesting to watch the phases at which various Manchester United fans lost faith in Moyes - many didn't want him from the off, many started to turn after those damaging defeats in the first half of the season (Liverpool, City, West Brom, Everton, Newcastle), but a large portion appeared to give up on him when it became clear he had no idea how to conduct himself as Manchester United manager.
Moyes, it was clear from the off, was small-time. His reaction to being given the job notwithstanding, basically everything he said reeked of a man who still thought he was managing Everton, from welcoming Liverpool to Old Trafford as favourites, to saying they 'aspire' to be as good as Manchester City, to being worried about what people might say if he'd taken off a clearly unfit Robin van Persie against Newcastle.
He simply didn't act like he was Manchester United manager. Of course, outward displays of bravado shouldn't mean a great deal, but they do. Call it bullshit and bluster, call it a confidence trick, call it PR - how a manager of a massive club presents himself matters, because if you don't think you belong, then who the hell else is going to?
Moyes clearly didn't 'get' Manchester United. That wasn't the only reason he failed, but it sure didn't help. The first thing the new man should do, whoever he may be, is to make sure he looks like he belongs.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter
United, if they were in the same league position but playing balls out attacking football, would get alot more positive response from fans and neutrals, the timidness and lack of attacking intent this season has disappointed, hopefully a new manager will show less fear and just go for it- shea666