Supporting Your Team vs Supporting Your Manager: The Moyes Manchester United Divide

There’s a hint of a civil war among Manchester United fans at the moment. The fans are certainly divided into two camps. There are those that find themselves still firmly behind under-fire boss David Moyes and those that would favour a change in management ASAP.

It’s an issue that has really come to ahead this week with the first signs of open revolt amongst the supporters. Fans at the stadium were visibly upset following the home defeat by City last week and the manner in which the side went down so feebly.

One thing I think both sets of fans can agree on is that the plane stunt on Saturday for the game against Aston Villa was an altogether pointless exercise and generally did the club more harm than good. Fans are 100% free to express their opinion but that stunt was just foolish. I’m no fan of David Moyes but even I think there was no need for that. Thankfully it received mostly negative attention both in the stadium and in the media.

David Moyes however received an overwhelmingly positive reaction when he emerged on the pitch on Saturday. I must say I was a bit surprised by this, I thought the majority of fans, like myself, would have taken issue with both the performance on Tuesday and his remarks after that we should aspire to be like City. Following the reception he got, I’m of the opinion that he could have been waving his middle fingers at them as he walked out and it would not matter, they’d still stand and applaud for any Manchester United manager, an admirable quality in some regards.

However there is a difference between supporting your team and supporting your manager. Every single die-hard United fan calling for Moyes’s head is doing so because they believe it will benefit the team. They are refusing to stand for the mediocrity he’s brought and have grown sick of the embarrassment this proud football club has had to endure over the past months. It wouldn’t happen at Barcelona, Madrid or Bayern Munich. Those are the clubs we should be comparing ourselves with, the very best in the world, not Spurs or Everton, no disrespect intended to those two fine English clubs but they are not at the same level.

The ‘Moyes In’ side of the debate lean heavily on the fact that Manchester United are ‘not a sacking club’ and never have been. This, it must be said, is not true and a quick glance at any Manchester United history book will reveal as much. The club have just not had an under-performing manager in a very long time.

Look back to the years after the great Sir Matt Busby retired. His place was taken by Wilf McGuinness who lasted a little over a year before being dumped. Frank O’Farrell was next to try and fill the great man’s shoes and lasted a similar amount of time despite being given a hefty contract. Bear in mind that we are talking about the late 1960s early 70s, when the average tenure of a top-flight manger was much longer than it is today. Sacking a manager after just one season then seems hasty, it’s fairly standard these days.

These fans seem to think that because Ferguson was given time to build a team at Old Trafford that Moyes should be given a similar length of time but the differences between the two regimes are enormous. Ferguson, having brought domestic and European success to Aberdeen, arrived at Old Trafford with a mission (knock Liverpool off their f***ing perch) and a means by which to do so (focus on youth development but invest in experienced players when needed). He accomplished this and more during his fruitful 27 year spell at the helm.

Moyes on the other hand lacks even a shred of Ferguson’s ambition. I don’t know how many times he’s reeled out his trusty ‘We’ll try our best’ rallying call this year but it does nothing to inspire confidence among the fans. His biggest singular offences include saying that United were going to “make life difficult” for Newcastle at Old Trafford, heralding Liverpool  as favourites when they came to visit and openly saying that “we need to aspire to be like City” after their turn to run riot at Old Trafford nine days later. There’s absolutely nothing about Moyes, his attitude, personality or anything he’s done since taking over that offers any hope whatsoever he’s going to be a success at Manchester United.

For me, as a United fan, hearing his comments following the City defeat was like a dagger through the heart. The strong, winning mentality instilled by Ferguson in the 1990s, carried out by club legends such as Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Ronaldo over the years has become utterly non-existent now less than a year later. I had sympathy for Moyes up until that point but to me his comments were basically spitting in the face of the club I’ve grown up loving.

‘Team Moyes In’ stand for the belief that Manchester United are not a sacking club (not wholly true) and that David Moyes, like Ferguson before him, should be given time to make his mark. They seem willing to settle for a couple of seasons in the doldrums in the belief that given time, David Moyes can somehow turn the club back into the winners they were under Ferguson. I would love nothing better than to be proved wrong but I just don’t see that happening.

‘Team Moyes Out’ have lost all faith that David Moyes is the right man for this job and see no point in settling for what they believe would be another season of embarrassing mediocrity under the current regime. Better to stop the rot now before Moyes is allowed another season to sully the club’s good name any further. He inherited the team that won the league at a canter last season and made turned them into Europa League hopefuls. The only player missing this season is Paul Scholes. Next year both Evra and Vidic will be gone, Ferdinand too and a few others presumably.

This summer is huge for United. Considerable investment is required to replace the final remnants of Ferguson’s 2008 Champions League winning side (Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Carrick, Giggs) and replace them with new, younger talent with the ultimate aim of reaching that goal once again. It seems a long way off now but this is Manchester United and that simply has to be the goal. The board must now decide whether or not the current manager who’s fumbled his way through the last two transfer windows, ended up paying over the odds for the uninspiring Fellaini from his old and buying a superstar he doesn’t know how to use, is really the right man to trust with such a huge amount of money.


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