Moyes back at Old Traf­ford

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The “Cho­sen One” ban­ner has gone from the Stret­ford End. The team has been over­hauled through three con­sec­u­tive off­sea­sons of lav­ish spend­ing. Alex Fer­gu­son’s shadow no longer looms quite so large.

Yet, when David Moyes re­turns to Old Traf­ford on Mon­day for the first time since his abrupt fir­ing by Manch­ester United in April 2014, he’ll find things haven’t changed that much at Eng­land’s big­gest club since his ill-fated 10-month spell there three sea­sons ago.

In the fourth year of the post-Fer­gu­son era, 20-time cham­pion United is still yearn­ing for its for­mer glo­ries, still search­ing for that at­tack­ing spark of old, and still lan­guish­ing out­side the Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion po­si­tions they once took for granted.

Re­cent re­sults may have been en­cour­ag­ing for United’s lat­est man­ager, Jose Mour­inho, but a run of three straight wins has only left the team in sixth place head­ing into the match against Sun­der­land, the rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened north­east club coached by Moyes. A top-four fin­ish - and there­fore a place in the Cham­pi­ons League - is far from guar­an­teed for United this sea­son. So Moyes re­turns to United with a feel­ing of “What if?”

What if he’d been al­lowed to see out the six-year con­tract he was given af­ter be­ing hand-picked as a re­place­ment by Fer­gu­son (hence the “Cho­sen One” moniker)? In­stead, as soon as United could no longer fin­ish in the top four in that 2013-14 cam­paign, he was fired .

What if he’d been given more than two trans­fer win­dows to re­shape an ag­ing squad left be­hind by Fer­gu­son? Moyes signed two first-team play­ers - Marouane Fel­laini and Juan Mata - at a cost of about 65 mil­lion pounds, which is noth­ing com­pared to the amount suc­ces­sors Louis van Gaal and Mour­inho have spent. Moyes said he tar­geted Cristiano Ron­aldo, Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabre­gas, and had fi­nal­ized a deal for Toni Kroos but was fired be­fore it could go through.

“I was def­i­nitely un­fairly treated,” Moyes said in his pre-match news con­fer­ence. “Other man­agers have come and gone and it’s been dif­fi­cult for them as well. I ac­tu­ally think who­ever fol­lowed Alex Fer­gu­son, whether it be Jose Mour­inho then or Carlo Ancelotti or Juer­gen Klopp, Pep Guardi­ola or David Moyes, I think it would have been the same. “I think it would have taken who­ever it was time to change the squad around. It was go­ing to be a re­build­ing job and never get done im­me­di­ately.”

Moyes said he was given “plenty of re­as­sur­ances” he would have longer to carry out the re­build­ing job - “I didn’t be­lieve I had to do it in nine months, or even 12 months” - but is still happy to have ex­pe­ri­enced man­ag­ing such a big club.

“Dis­ap­pointed I didn’t get to see out my con­tract, that’s for sure,” he said, “but I’ll look back know­ing I was re­ally for­tu­nate to have the chance to work with some great play­ers, and to see how, at the real top level, things are. I en­joyed be­ing at Manch­ester United.”

Since leav­ing Old Traf­ford, Moyes spent a year at Real So­cieded be­fore get­ting fired and has been in charge of Sun­der­land since July. The team is in 18th place in the 20team stand­ings af­ter 17 games.—AP

SUN­DER­LAND: File photo shows Sun­der­land’s Ad­nan Januzaj, cen­tre, talks to man­ager David Moyes, dur­ing the English Premier League soc­cer match be­tween Sun­der­land and Wat­ford, at the Sta­dium of Light, in Sun­der­land, Eng­land, Dec 17, 2016. — AP

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