Moyes sacking: He is the fall guy for Glazers’ policy

The departed manager had many faults and had to go, writes United season-ticket holder Paul Vallely, but the crisis at Old Trafford stems from 2005’s disgraceful leveraged buyout

We liked to think our club was different. But the graceless sacking of David Moyes has shown Manchester United fans that our pride in the longevity of Old Trafford’s managers was a fond myth.

This is an impatient age in which nothing is as myopic as money. The denizens of the Theatre of Dreams have finally learned what has long been a commonplace for supporters elsewhere. We liked the idea of long tenure, of steady stewardship, of bringing on young players, of cultivating local talent. But the world has changed around us.

Sir Alex Ferguson may have been given a long time to settle in when, in the old days, he began what proved to be his glorious reign. But I do not think even Fergie would have been handed that time had he begun in the present era.

Among those with whom I have had exchanges on Twitter in the immediate post-Moyes period was Professor Paul Gilroy, the celebrated cultural studies writer. He tweeted that Moyes’s sacking showed that “economic expediency trumps aesthetic and ethical concerns”.

There was nothing aesthetic about playing badly, I replied, nor ethical about Moyes’s consistent failure to improve. For which Gilroy upbraided me. “I always thought spectator sport was about learning how to manage disappointment not a machinic right to constant triumph,” he riposted.

That is a singular view of spectator sport (unless you’re an Arsenal fan, of course). But it set me thinking about the psychology of success.

For decades United fans took winning almost for granted. Yet a full spectrum of emotions could be encompassed within that. The United fans around me in N3404 block – especially the World’s Most Boring Man who drones on endlessly behind me – used to complain even when we were winning if they felt the victory was not stylish enough. This season has been an interesting corrective to all that.

Of course, we expected some slippage after Fergie. We were braced to fall to third or fourth but no one anticipated the cascade of catastrophic firsts which Moyes achieved, one after the disastrous other, in his Miltonic tumble from Chosen One to Frozen One. The ousting of Moyes may have been graceless but it was inevitable.

Ah, but Moyes is a decent hard-working man, the apologists said. He should have had more time. In the old world he might. But decency is only a necessary rather than a sufficient condition.

Moyes lacked the charisma to carry off his reported instruction to Rio Ferdinand that the man who was, in his time, the finest defender in the country, should sit down and watch a video of Everton’s Phil Jagielka and study his moves. “What the fuck has he ever won?” was the Champions League winner’s alleged response.

Moyes’s tactical locker was bare, as the 81 fruitless crosses against Fulham in February  showed. His instruction to United’s midfielders not to get ahead of the ball left our forwards isolated and the rest of the squad bemused. In 51 different games he chose 51 different teams, suggesting he didn’t have a clue what his best side was.

He lacked the swagger and the pride we needed. Liverpool came to Old Trafford as the favourites, he conceded. United should “aspire” to be like City. “I don’t know what we have to do to win,” Moyes said after the defeat at Stoke. Perhaps someone else would have a better idea, the board finally decided.

It was a judgement to which the fans had been reluctant to rush. He had, after all, been anointed by the infallible Fergie. But though there has been much criticism of the cack-handed way Moyes was dismissed, there is little but relief that the hapless manager has departed.

All the talk now has shifted to who will replace him. Only a minority of fans look beyond that to the structural problem which has really brought Manchester United to this place. For the current crisis only underscores the fact that the real problem is the disgraceful leveraged buyout by the Glazer family which saddled the club with debt. And that is where Prof Gilroy is right to talk about economic expediency.

Follow the money is the old maxim. The book Soccernomics, by Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper, has demonstrated how money buys success. There is a direct correlation between a club’s wage bill and its position in the league. A mere 10 per cent of managers, like Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, achieve more than their player’s wages would suggest.

The genius of Sir Alex Ferguson hid this truth from United fans for years. By sheer force of will and personality Fergie kept Man Utd at the top far longer than ought to have been the case once clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City had dramatically overtaken United in spending. In those clubs rich men were constantly putting their own money in. At United the Glazers only took money out.

Fergie was the greatest of that 10 per cent of over-achievers. But once he had gone the reality of the economics began to exert its gravitational pull. Moyes did not have the character, charisma, ego or sheer will to resist it. “It’s the economy, stupid,” as Bill Clinton famously observed.

The future of Manchester United is being decided by the family which loaded vast debt on the club and the banker who organised it. They are hoping that the current hoo-ha will keep the spotlight from their inadequacies.

United fans should not be surprised if things get a good deal worse before they get better.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on