Lessons to learn but Moyes will be back

The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

When David Moyes walked into the Manch­ester United dress­ing room, he was in­evitably go­ing to face a sim­i­lar prob­lem to the one I faced at Pre­ston; just on a com­pletely dif­fer­ent scale. My prob­lem was tough enough. I in­her­ited play­ers who had achieved more than me in foot­ball and who had ex­pe­ri­ence of sit­u­a­tions that I didn’t have. Neil Mel­lor, for in­stance, had played a part in win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League at Liver­pool.

I was com­ing in to teach lads like Mells. But I had no ob­vi­ous ba­sis of rel­e­vant suc­cess or ex­per­tise upon which to es­tab­lish a re­spect to do that.Win­ning three pro­mo­tions to reach League One was hardly com­pa­ra­ble to Cham­pi­ons League ex­pe­ri­ence.

This week, one or two United sources high­lighted the lack of trust that ex­isted in the squad to play the Moyes way. The sense was that it was David’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to learn the United way be­fore im­pos­ing his own thoughts. It is easy to feel he should have lis­tened more. But let’s be frank, he would prob­a­bly have been run out of town for hav­ing no ideas of his own.


I will never for­get the dis­dain shown to me by cer­tain se­nior play­ers from the mo­ment I came through the door at Pre­ston. Bat­tle lines were drawn at my very first in­tro­duc­tory meet­ing.

Rather naively, I saw their stance as their prob­lem be­cause ul­ti­mately I would de­cide their fate.

Ac­tu­ally, my de­ci­sion not to more pa­tiently en­gage them and slowly im­prove them as play­ers, and to cre­ate their win­ning per­for­mance as a team would be a fac­tor in de­cid­ing my fate. My fail­ure to in­spire cer­tain key per­son­nel left me light on top qual­ity talent.

I sensed David was fac­ing a sim­i­lar strug­gle when he be­gan talk­ing about how long his con­tract was writ­ten for. The team’s per­for­mances and re­sults were do­ing a lot of talk­ing. He felt obliged to an­swer. But his an­swer was de­fen­sive. And that to me was telling.

Where then do I think that David could have done bet­ter based on my ex­pe­ri­ence of a sim­i­lar prob­lem?

Firstly it pays to re­mem­ber the quotes of two great men:‘I am not bet­ter than any other coach, but no one is bet­ter than me’ said Jose Mour­inho.

‘I don’t think I am the best man­ager in the world but I am in the top one’ said Brian Clough.

Per­haps David is too hum­ble for his own good? Too fo­cused on ‘work­ing hard’ for his own good? Per­haps a Manch­ester United man­ager needs to shed that type of skin.

Ryan Giggs talked about ‘ex­pres­sion’ com­ing from a team that ‘en­joys’ it­self. An at­tack­ing and win­ning way has huge smiles in­volved in it. The bal­ance be­tween ‘work’ and ‘fun’ is a vi­tal bal­ance to find.

Sec­ondly em­brace the job: Manch­ester United were Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons. Ar­guably, noth­ing needed chang­ing. Per­haps David could have left more of the win­ning struc­ture in place whilst he worked with his new team to work out how to be­come Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, tre­ble win­ners and even world club cham­pi­ons. Per­haps too much changed. Maybe too few friends were ac­quired.

Thirdly pol­i­tics: There are key fig­ures in ev­ery dress­ing room and they need to be pulling in the right and same di­rec­tion.Whether the key play­ers play smaller or big­ger roles, they need to be given the right to their pride.

The en­vi­ron­ment has to pro­vide ev­ery­body in­volved with a clear pic­ture of the fu­ture. Look at Brendan Rogers’ mag­nif­i­cent han­dling of Jamie Car­ragher’s move out of Liver­pool and into the me­dia. Fault­less.

That seems like a sim­ple set of thoughts. But some­times the an­swers get com­pli­cated in the midst of hu­man change sit­u­a­tions. Suc­ceed­ing for David was not straight­for­ward. I know I would ad­just my ap­proach in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion in my fu­ture ca­reer. And I am sure that David will bounce back a much stronger man­ager too.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

I KNOW HOW HE FELT: For­mer Manch­ester United boss David Moyes

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