Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Moyes is the right man to replace Sir Alex

Update: Also check out What America's politicians could learn from American sports

Succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who made Manchester United the world’s greatest soccer club, would be hard for any Coach. 13 Premier League trophies, 5 FA Cups, 2 Champions League crowns. Yes, he could be arrogant and was often petty with critics, but nonetheless, Ferguson is a giant of the soccer world.

But even as a Everton fan, I can accept the hard truth- David Moyes is the right man for Manchester United. 

Sure, I’m sad to see him leave Everton. After all, Moyes is the guy who built my team into the top level club that it is today. He may not have won a trophy, but amidst severe financial constraints, Moyes has been an incredible servant to the Toffee nation. His eye for talent was unmatched, his developmental leadership sustained and his tactical knowledge spot on. Risen from former battles against relegation, Everton are now a regular contender for European qualification.

This record is why Moyes has been picked as Sir Alex’s replacement. 

Manchester United needs two things from their next coach – a steady hand and a fresh vision. 

On the first point, it’s evident that United is a team in transition. The old guard –Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and co. are on their way out. Key strikers - Rooney and Van Persie aren’t getting any younger. United has to look to the future. They need a Coach who can continue developing United’s future talent core – players like Phil Jones, Tom Clerverley, Danny Welbeck, whilst also maintaining United’s present domination of the Premier League. With his experience shaping players like Mikel Arteta, Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney into the stars they are today, Moyes has a pedigree that United will have found deeply appealing. At the same time, United understand that they need a Coach who can find new talent. Again, Moyes ticked the box.

Of course, a contemporary Premier League coach has to be more than an administrator and a scout, he also has to be a tactical master. Cue Moyes. Before he took the reins, Everton was a team known for its plucky resolve and not much else. The glory years of the 80s were a memory. A great goalkeeper, long balls and a sprinkling of hope had become the tactical modus operandi. Check out today’s Everton and you see a very different team. Sure, the basic foundation of physicality remains, but there’s something else present now – ingrained tactical intelligence. Forward hoofs have been replaced by a confident, smooth passing game. Set pieces are refined. Play makers are spread in various positions across the field. This is a team with versatility and aggression. This is a club that wins.

United’s executive leadership know that if they’re to be able to transition current glory into a similarly successful future, they’ll have to have a Coach who can compete with the English Premier League’s (EPL) exceptional and growing talent. With a talented young coach working wonders at Tottenham, Mourinho seemingly on his way back to Chelsea and Mancini keen to splurge even greater millions on a new set of stars, the competition is about to get even tougher. Moyes knows this league better than anyone (except Sir Alex).

I suspect there was one final factor to David Moyes attractiveness. His character. 

Unlike many EPL coaches, Moyes is renowned for his sense of fair play and integrity. He rarely complains about officials and when he does so, he tends to have good reason. Now that Ferguson has gone, United has a legacy to uphold. In the end, they’re a business as well as a cultural institution. Moyes gets this. He can build upon this legacy and he can take it forwards.

Sure, I’ll be sad to see him go. But I also get why United wanted him. 

With the abiding gratitude of a mournful Toffee, I wish him all the best.

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