Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson caught the world of football by surprise with his retirement, the clamor to predict the decline of the empire he has built over the past 26 years at Manchester United has been deafening.
The appointment of David Moyes as Fergie’s successor as manager at Old Trafford has been greeted by so many so-called experts announcing a shift of power in the English game that there has been public perception that this is inevitable.
The Champions of England were relegated to third favourites to retain their title behind Chelsea, buoyed by the return of Jose Mourinho, and Manchester City, who have brought in Manuel Pellegrini to replace ‘failure’ Roberto Mancini.
The media have reveled in the uncertainty they have gleefully magnified about the future of Wayne Rooney, who remains a Manchester United player and is almost certainly going to remain so for the next year at least.
The reality is that David Moyes is an outstanding football manager. He has the ability to keep the red flag flying high above United’s Premier League rivals. Whether or not he is given the time he needs to build on the foundations laid down by his mentor is the big question.
As the sorcerer’s apprentice, Moyes can take pride and confidence from the knowledge he has more right to be called ‘The Special One’ than self-publicist Jose Mourinho, because the Glaswegian is ‘The Chosen One’.
He needs to get a few more wins under his belt to build on the success of winning the Community Shield against Wigan, and crushing Swansea on the opening day at the Liberty Stadium. Only then will the doubters start to believe this is the beginning and not the end of another glorious chapter in the history of Manchester United.
The next fortnight will tell us a great deal about the destiny of this season’s Premier League, because by then we will know who the top clubs have recruited or lost. And, in a chsllrning opening fixture list, we will see Manchester United play hosts to Chelsea, as well as travel to Merseyside to take on rivals Liverpool
Moyes’ opening five matches in the defence of United’s Premier League title also includes a trip to the Etihad to tackle neighbours City. A tougher start it would be hard to imagine. Rather than being a negative, this could be a huge boost for the new boss because a show of strength now will silence the doubters and give him the support he needs to build on Fergie’s success. But a slow start will only increase the pressure on United’s new manager
There is no comparison with what happened 40 years ago when Sir Matt Busy handed the reigns to a young and inexperienced Wilf McGuinness. In those days United had an ageing team in desperate need of rebuilding, despite the presence of Best, Law and Charlton – who were all in the twilight of their careers.
The modern day United is a club that dwarfs the past, because there is a structure in place that has been built on solid foundations. There is excellence in every department, not least the playing side where talisman Robin van Persie is a majestic footballer at the height of his career and improving with age.
There is an exciting blend of youth and experience with those added ingredients of confidence, self-belief, talent and above all else an unquenchable never-say-die will to win.
There are those who will doubt Moyes’ ability to deliver until he has put trophies in the cabinet. And there are many who will enjoy stoking up the pressure the longer that takes.
I expect Moyes to succeed, because Sir Alex cares too much about United to let anyone fills his shoes who is not going to be the right man for the job. But I do fear the new manager is taking a huge gamble by relying so heavily on his backroom team from Everton. Apart from Ryan Giggs, there is a lack of continuity, and that could backfire.
So many great football managers have come from Glasgow. And United fans are hoping it will not be long before Moyes is seen in a different light by the doubters, who were calling for what they believed would be a more glamorous big name appointment.