Jan Molby

United to continue gambling on Moyes, the reluctant gambler

Jan Molby

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The consternation that followed David Moyes’s positive comments after the match against Bayern Munich were unfounded. As United manager he has to defend United’s performances.

As expected, Bayern’s superior players dominated in a comfortable win. At the moment, the best United can do in these games is to fight and stay in them.

However, Moyes knows that he has 15 months and substantial financial backing to address these issues. As I understand it, he will be given next season to bed in the £150 million worth of talent United expect to sign this summer. The United board are certain they have the right man.

Knee-jerk sackings are oft criticised so United should be praised for this stance. However, it is going to be very intriguing to see how that money is spent.

Sir Alex Ferguson was a gambler. Four strikers were a regular sight if United were drawing a game with 20 minutes to go – and that gambling instinct was present in his transfer dealings.

Moyes, by nature, is a more cautious manager. It is safety first for Moyes.

Ferguson bought game changers. Look at Robin van Persie: he won them the league; he had an immediate impact, and was a shrewd buy that served its purpose, if not a long term one.

Is Moyes likely to go after game changers? Well, they have Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, who all fall into that category. Top of his list will be stable players that he can rely on: centre-halves, more defensive-minded midfield players and full-backs. Expect him to shore things up rather than anything else.

Will that be enough to reclaim a spot in the top four?

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Chelsea’s sixth placed-finish in 2012 did not feel terminal but United’s fall has been steep, and despite the expected £150m worth of investment, they could still seriously struggle to regain that next season. All the other teams around United have improved and will sign players again.

Missing out on the Champions League this season is regrettable but it is not catastrophic; financially they can bear it and prospective signings could be convinced it was merely a blip. However, to miss out twice in two years will have serious ramifications - this is a huge gamble.

Some managers can improve players immeasurably – just look at the job that Brendan Rodgers has done at Liverpool. While Moyes has that ability to a certain extent, the quickest route to improving this situation is to buy well and then look to improve the players currently at the club.

Wilfried Zaha has been used as a stick to beat Moyes with. It is obvious that the expectations of playing Championship football for Crystal Palace and playing for Manchester United are completely different.

However, from what I have seen of him, whether Zaha has the game intelligence to play in the Premier League is open to question. When you lack game understanding, the manager explains it to you and you don't get it - it doesn't work for everyone.

And this can all be a case of timing – maybe Moyes can work with Zaha effectively over the summer but if he has seen a lack of game intelligence then that could be why he was loaned out.

In football, timing is crucial. Some managers and players arrive at a club at the wrong time. That was very much the case with Roy Hodgson at Liverpool but he has since bounced back.

David Moyes may be at the wrong club at the wrong time – there is no doubt that he is a good manager, but we will have to wait and see if he proves to be a top class manager.

Jan Molby

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