John Giles: Judge David Moyes a year from now
THE judgement on David Moyes’ worth as manager of Manchester United only began this week. The moment he signed Juan Mata, a firm break was established between what is now and what went before.
There has been much said and written about the legacy Alex Ferguson left behind and how Moyes must have been downright shocked when the full scale of the rebuild he must undertake became obvious to him.
But he now knows exactly what he needs to do. He has seen the squad available to him and he now understands what he needs to be truly competitive and what he needs to do to peel away those players who can no longer serve him or Manchester United.
It is just as skilled an endeavour to cut out dead wood as it is to find new options and everything he does from this moment on will make up the evidence by which he will be judged, so each decision to sell is as important as one to buy.
He will be given the time and resources to build his own team. That became very clear when the Glazer family sanctioned a £37.1m spend on Mata. As ever with any manager, they are taking a big gamble.
Oddly enough, Ferguson’s high profile presence at Old Trafford, a very bad thing in the overall picture, is working for Moyes at the moment.
Ferguson anointed Moyes and for the foreseeable future, his reputation is tied closely to the performance of the man who succeeded him.
So Moyes has a very firm and powerful advocate when the Glazers sit down to review his efforts to date and more importantly, when the debate turns to finance and the amount needed to shift Manchester United out of the limbo the squad is in at the moment and on to a level that the fans and shareholders are used to.
The Mata transfer was a benchmark and I believe Moyes will be given as much as he needs to fill the gaping holes in his squad.
And despite many who see Moyes as a failure before he even gets going, I want to see his vision unfold before I reach any judgement. I want to see the players he brings in and compare them to the ones he lets go.
I want to see him put the skills he learned at Goodison Park into practice with a full squad of quality players like Mata and, up to now, he hasn’t had the chance to do any of that.
The Ferguson shadow is an issue, there is no doubt about that but it seems to be working for him at the moment and giving him a kind of buffer against the headline writers and doom merchants.
Over the long haul, Ferguson’s enduring presence can only be bad. In the here and now, I would be much more concerned with the fact that there is talk of Moyes sitting down with Wayne Rooney to give him a view of the road ahead and the players Manchester United intend to buy in the hope that he will sign a new deal, take over the captaincy and lead the club forward.
Apart from the fact that Rooney has had three or four years to do exactly that and has been anything but an inspiration, I’ve never believed that players should be given that kind of influence.
Right now, Moyes is considering how many of Rooney’s colleagues and maybe even friends he will dump during the next six months. He will have to make some very hard decisions and I don’t see any reason why Rooney shouldn’t be |the subject of that review as |much as anyone else.
If Moyes has made the decision to build around Rooney well fair enough, but there is no reason to involve him in the process.
Rooney’s job is to train hard and play as well as he can for the wages he earns. After that, give him the armband, sure, and put him out there as the face of Manchester United. But don’t give him any say in how Moyes forms his squad or his team.
In an immediate sense, he has thrown Mata straight into action and for the first time this season, Manchester United have put a capable midfield player on the pitch, and his impact was felt straight away in last night’s victory over Cardiff.
With Robin van Persie back playing and scoring, and when Rooney does the same, I don’t see any difficulty in making sure that Manchester United are in the Champions League draw during the summer. But even if he doesn’t manage that, I will still suspend judgement until the first half of next season is over. By Christmas, he will have spent a lot of money and signed some very good footballers.
By then, it will be obvious to everyone whether he has what it takes to manage one of the biggest clubs in the world.