David Moyes future: Former Manchester United favourites putting the boot in, including Paul Scholes

Manager's attempts to arrest the decline at Old Trafford won't be helped by criticisms from the club's golden generation - but the board should be careful about knee-jerk reactions

If David Moyes was looking for a crumb of comfort as the last few supporters drifted away from Old Trafford on Tuesday night, then it was not to be found on the television where a new pundit in the Sky Sports stable was making his debut.

The notion of Paul Scholes as a television personality once belonged in the same category as Richard Dawkins fronting Songs of Praise or Wes Craven being put in charge of CBeebies. Scholes was always a fascinating interviewee, the problem was just that he refused to do them. Since his understated turn on The Class of 92 documentary he seems to be more biddable and, well, what else is he doing these days?

Since retirement, Scholes has been only marginally involved at Manchester United as an assistant to Nicky Butt with the club's Under-19s, presumably while he makes up his mind what to do with his life. As of Tuesday night, he is likely to be in huge demand as a pundit.

Read more: Moyes is safe at United.... for now
Former United favourites sticking the boot into Moyes
Even Keane and Neville would fall silent when Scholes spoke

With Gary Neville barely able to suppress a grin alongside him, Scholes skewered a whole range of under-performing footballers, some former team-mates, some in the Arsenal midfield. Rio Ferdinand was taken to task for not being tight enough on Edin Dzeko for the second goal in Manchester City's 3-0 win. Danny Welbeck was blamed for not cutting out the cross.

 

All of it delivered in that flat Lancashire accent that bears no hint of apology or sympathy. Scholes simply told it like it was without fear or favour. Funnily enough, Alan Hansen was another very reticent interviewee as a player who blossomed into an authoritative pundit, post-retirement, but even he would never have got stuck into Liverpool like that less than a year after he finished playing for them.

If Moyes was waiting for the moment when Scholes was going to reassure the nation that United would come good in the end under their new manager then he will have been disappointed. "He's nine months into the job and you have to stand by him,' Scholes said. "He's made a couple of signings that haven't worked out yet as he would have liked. In the summer he's going to need backing, there's no doubt about that."

Read more: 'Class of 92' linked with takeover
United fans organising 'Moyes Out' flyover
Fellaini claims Zabaletta 'bounced his jaw into my elbow'

Like the Liverpool managers who followed Kenny Dalglish, even Graeme Souness, himself a former player, it must be daunting for Moyes to face all these men whose words mean so much more to United fans than his. When he was manager Gérard Houllier was obsessed with the number of former Liverpool players working in the media and he arrived at the club eight years, rather than eight weeks, after their last league title.

At least Houllier was not under threat of his job from any of those men who had worn the Liverpool shirt in happier times for the club. The problem for Moyes is that the last great generation at United are fresh into retirement, erudite on the television and carry great credibility. The most successful of the lot, Ryan Giggs, is still in the squad. They look like a viable alternative if the board were tempted to make a change.

There is still no sign that the board, or the Glazer ownership, are wavering over Moyes but it would be remarkable if they were not running through the options.

Installing Giggs, for instance, as a caretaker to the end of the season would be an easy-win, although not without its potential problems. Liverpool did the same with Dalglish the second time around in 2011, and were carried along on a wave to make him a permanent fixture only to have to sack him a year later. Taking Giggs out of that role for a new man to come in would be just as difficult.

Realistically, United are not going to drop further than seventh. That allows the club to keep Moyes in the job until the end of the season and reassess then, when they will have a lot more options than they would trying to appoint a manager in April.

The unpalatable truth delivered by Scholes was that the differences between City and United were "glaringly obvious". "You need pace," he said. "Whenever we played we always had quick players playing with us. [Against City] we had Welbeck and [Wayne] Rooney with a bit of pace but apart from that – there are some nice footballers without them wanting to run in behind.

"You want Rooney running behind [Martin] Demichelis. He did a couple of times but didn't get seen and that is when you need players like Giggs. He's the one who can pass the ball forward. He doesn't care if he gives it away three or four times, he will still risk it. To be a United midfielder you need to take risks. Sometimes you are going to lose the ball but on that one time when you get a player in it normally ends up in a goal."

Scholes' mention of Giggs was telling given the absence of the 40-year-old since his influential performance in the win over Olympiakos last week. He missed the West Ham game, understandably, given recovery times, but also Tuesday night. Even though he can be vulnerable against a midfield like City's – and who isn't? – he was surely a better option on the bench than, among others, Shinji Kagawa.

Neville has been a staunch defender of Moyes in the past, writing in his now discontinued Mail on Sunday column that it was an "insult" even to consider his future. But that was December, after the home defeat to Newcastle, the fifth of 10 in the league, and the picture has changed rapidly since then. The tone was different on Tuesday because even Moyes' allies have become bewildered at the falling away of United.

"Up front, they have got good players but it is where you fit them in Moyes has to work out in these next few months," Neville said. It was a kind way of putting it, but there really is no gentler way of describing Moyes' delicate position.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
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
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