Sport Soccer

Thursday 22 March 2018

Fergie sideshow still undermining successor -- McGrath

Paul McGrath
Paul McGrath

Garry Doyle

Paul McGrath believes Alex Ferguson's "egotistical" decision to publish his second autobiography within months of David Moyes' arrival at Old Trafford has severely undermined his successor's position.

The former Ireland defender -- whose Manchester United career was ended by Ferguson -- feels the Glaswegian's strong criticism of past and present United players has destabilised the club, ramping up the pressure Moyes was already feeling.

In an interview with RTE radio, McGrath held firm in his belief that Moyes could yet prove a success in Manchester, providing the club's hierarchy give him two years to establish his credentials. However, Ferguson's shadow, McGrath argues, is an unwelcome distraction.

"To get where Fergie got to requires a massive ego," said McGrath. "When he wrote the book and criticised certain players, he went a bit far. Why could he not have given David Moyes a couple of years' grace and then brought the book out? It was always going to sell.

"He should have given him (Moyes) time to settle into the club. It (going to print within months of his retirement) was shabbily done.

"David is finding it a bit tougher than he had hoped. It is such a big transition from Everton to Old Trafford. Alex must have sat down with David a few times and said 'now this is going to be a culture shock to you at Old Trafford'. That is why I don't quite cop (the timing of Ferguson's book)."

Moyes would be happy if the contents of Ferguson's autobiography were the sole issue he had to deal with.

"Teams are coming to Old Trafford and when they see Ferguson is not on the bench, are becoming more adventurous," said McGrath. "They believe they can win games there.

"David is a very studious football man, similar to Alex Ferguson, which is why he was chosen. When he was at Everton, succeeding in spite of the fact he had a smaller budget than his rivals, I thought his achievements were incredible.

"Now he has stepped up and it is a horrible situation. If it is going to work out for him, he needs to win the fans over -- and after Ferguson, who was winning trophies year in and year out, that is difficult.

"Alex was in a similar position to David in his early years and managers need a couple of seasons before they should be judged. But some supporters are wounded already because they aren't used to West Brom or Swansea coming to Old Trafford and winning. That was unheard of.

"So you wonder about David. But to me he is a tremendous manager who deserves to be given time to bring his own players in."

Meanwhile, McGrath has backed Martin O'Neill to have a more fruitful experience as Ireland manager. "He is the one manager who players will want to play for, a shrewd manager who will improve Ireland's players," he said.

"Bringing Roy Keane in beside him was a shrewd move. Martin could have gone the other way and said Roy would bring too much baggage and take over the place, but he knows that Roy will complement him. The two of them will move this Ireland team in the direction it wants to go in."

Irish Independent

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