Paul Parker

United need their biggest overhaul in 25 years – and it must start this month

Paul Parker

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David Moyes

Everyone's got an opinion on who Manchester United should sign. But I don't think they've got enough money to get what they need - and even if they did, January is probably not the right time for them to be spending in any case. Yet there is no choice for David Moyes: the rebuilding must start now.

Why? Because the team needs as big an overhaul as it's ever needed in the club's history, because right now they're more inconsistent than they've been for over 20 years - and if the new faces don't start arriving in the next three weeks, the club might not be able to get them at all.

The last time things were this bad was when Sir Alex Ferguson took over. He did it then, and Moyes needs to do it now.

It's not about the players at United not being good enough; Moyes needs fresh players in who are keen to give everything for United, and for the new boss.

The players who are there right now just can't do it, simply because they've already given so much. And the man who was whipping them all the time has gone.

The new manager coming in can try and whip them as much as he likes, but he'll never have the same influence; and he'll never command the same respect as Ferguson.

It's harsh to say it, but it's a fact of life. United's players had huge respect for Ferguson. They'd have done anything he said, because they believed in him, they knew there would be an end product.

But with a new person coming in, with new ideas that aren't tried, tested and proven successful… Suffice to say that they're a little bit on edge about it. And then you've got a backroom staff that's anonymous to them as well. There's nobody in that backroom staff that the senior players can believe in.

The bottom line is that Moyes just needs new faces, guys who will be prepared to come in and play for him. It might not even take top quality - just players who are willing to listen to what he wants to do. Only if he gets that can he start getting some stability - and once he's got that then Manchester United can start to be semi-successful again.

People have been talking about Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan as a possible signing, a man who could come in and be the big man that the whole team revolves around, as Eric Cantona or Roy Keane once were.

And there is a need for someone like that: a midfielder who can also make something happen up front. You can't just rely on Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie because as soon as one of them is unfit, you've got problems - and the best way to get around that is to have a playmaker who is a goalscorer as well. They're hard to find, but I think Gundogan could do that for them.

That would only be the start, though. They need at least two defenders - at least two - and then in midfield they need a wide player. If David Moyes continues to think that there's something wrong with Wilfried Zaha - a stance which I still find baffling - then the manager has got to go and get someone in who can do that same job.

And they there's the toughest one of all to sign: they need someone who can provide a bit of X factor, like Cristiano Ronaldo once did. A player who can produce a bit of magic, even on days when he's having a bad game, that saves United and gets them a point when they're about to lose, or three points when they're about to draw.

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They just don't have a player like that at the moment. Everyone's raving about Adnan Januzaj, but that's primarily because everything else about United is so deflated at the moment that he's the only good news story out there. I just hope that the pressure doesn't break him, because the expectations on him every time United play are just ridiculous.

That pressure was never put on Ryan Giggs when he came through at a similar age. Ryan had a much better experience: he came in to a team that was already settled and playing well together, and all he could do was add something extra to an already successful side. Januzaj, by contrast, is trying to do his best for a team that's struggling, and even the experienced players around him are desperately fighting their own battles; they simply don't have time to look after him as well.

There's not much point naming a list of players I think could fill these spots. Anybody can do that - fans and pundits rattling off names who could do this or that for the team, knowing that they'll never be held to account. We all have our opinions on who the right players are, but the bottom line is that it's only Moyes who will have to live - or die - with the consequences of the decisions he makes.

If I was sat down having a beer with David Moyes right now, I'd tell him how sorry I feel for him. But, like a man, I'm sure he would just say that he knew what he was getting himself into, knew how the press would be if the team started losing.

He does need a plan, though - presumably there was one in the summer, but it certainly doesn't look like it worked out. And there definitely has to be one in January, because there are players around - tried and tested ones - who can keep them in the top four.

Okay, we can say that Manchester United aren't going to win the league. But they have to make sure that they're in the Champions League; that's the one thing that has to happen, as a club, as a business, as perhaps the biggest brand leader in football, and because that's the only way he'll be able to attract the players he needs this summer to rebuild the side.

You only need to look at Liverpool's struggles getting talent in over the last few years to see how important that is. They've had to take a series of gambles on underperforming players to get back towards the top of the league; that's not a position that a club like United should ever find themselves in.

And for Moyes to avoid that, he must get people in who've been there before - even if it means taking a risk on someone who looks like they're past their best, but who might fancy coming to United and having a crack.

These are worrying times for United fans. But the dyed-in-the-wool fans who've been supporting United since before Alex Ferguson even arrived will go with it. They'll continue to believe in the club, and will trust that they'll get back on the road to success soon.

But the fans who've come to the club in the last 10 or 20 years, who've never known anything but success, will probably see things differently. They're the ones chanting 'Moyes Out' - but they don't understand that Manchester United just aren't part of the sacking culture.

But they need to understand why Moyes was given the job, why the stability he will bring is so important, and what he means to the club - because he's the manager of the club off the pitch as well, and is crucial to the brand and the PLC company as well as the men on the pitch.

That's not to say that he's unsackable. If, after he's been given a proper chance to rebuild, his team is not successful and doesn't look like one which will take the club forwards, then the situation will be dealt with. But not before.

All this talk about him being odds-on to be the next manager to be sacked is rubbish. They're not a normal club, like a Chelsea, who'll sack a manager off the back of three defeats or something ridiculous. And they never will be.

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