The reality Moyes has to live with
Posted Saturday, December 7 2013 at 02:00
At the end of last season and with his job done Sir Alex Ferguson climbed onto his particularly high horse and rode off into the setting sun. And it will yet be argued that an era went down with the sun and the falling confetti on that day in May.
And if his successor David Moyes always suspected that he may be stepping into some very big shoes he was soon to confirm also that his predecessor left behind a weighty burden of expectation borne of all the achievements he amassed over a very lengthy period of time.
In other words Ferguson had the time to achieve what he did. No, in fact he could not have done so without time and this is a matter even he confesses to in his book ‘My Autobiography’.
Time was therefore always going to be an issue for David Moyes because that is what it takes to accumulate the success against which he shall be judged. And that is already unfair if you asked me because David Moyes will never get the time Fergie had.
Ferguson was lucky to have worked in a period when football clubs were not value generating assets of impatient absentee owners, but extensions of the societies in which they existed. David Moyes however walks into a listed company and one that is controlled thus.
His new employers like all owners of publically listed companies live by the creed of predictability in results as volatility hurts share prices.
This alone can make a business very impatient and it can be said here and now that David Moyes may have gotten a 6-year contract but he will not get 27 years, unless of course he generates success immediately and consistently, a big ask in the current competitive landscape.
And yet it is on the standards of consistent success that he will be judged. So in a way he is already doomed to fail. I dare say Ferguson actually did Manchester United a big disservice by staying on too long. It’s easy to read off a long list of achievements- the various all-conquering teams and the collection of trophies, but hanging around for 27 years gives you a time-bank from which you can draw the means to correct your errors and build success. Time lends you a clout-quota.
In fact Manchester United’s history carries another such example of men who had time on their side. It is therefore no coincidence that Sir Matt Busby’s long reign is also one of sustained success and that the spurts of short managerial reigns between these two men also represents a blotch on united illustrious history.
Of course the structures of Manchester United will not fold over night.
The methods, the networks, and the accumulated knowledge will serve David Moyes as well. But all those things we came to know as bouncebackability like never knowing when to lose have gone with Ferguson.
Yes they came to represent Manchester United but were borrowed from a more patient era and will follow Fergie into retirement.
To that extent Manchester United and David Moyes must brace themselves for this reality in which the modern competitive environment and club ownership model have robbed them of success’ greatest ally – time.