Moyes lacks X-factor to manage club like United
Boss out of his depth at Old Trafford -- and Glazers will pull plug unless he can revive top-four hopes
For a struggling Premier League manager, how much time can you expect to be given to turn things around? At what point is it deemed reasonable to pull the plug on a man coming up short?
Given that it's only five months into his reign at Old Trafford, it would be hasty to mention the name of David Moyes in such context. When he was appointed in July, it was widely acclaimed as a good man getting his just rewards. Moyes had served his time, learned the trade at Preston and then Everton.
There seemed to be a general expectation that Moyes would get on just fine. Sure, everyone expected a brief period of transition, but considering the players and resources at his disposal, few claimed his appointment was the wrong one. And besides, he was Alex Ferguson's choice.
Reflecting on it now, I wonder were we distracted by the fanfare of Ferguson's departure, blinded as we looked back on the wonders of his achievements over 26 years. If Ferguson thought Moyes was the right man for the job, who were we to doubt him?
Moyes' fate now depends on the patience of the Glazer family as much as anything else, but unless the Scot's fortune changes quickly, the inevitable will happen sooner rather than later.
From the beginning, Moyes has looked unsure of himself at Old Trafford. United were linked with several high-profile players in the summer; there was speculation that Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas were viable targets.
The Fabregas story appeared to have real momentum, but United failed to close the deal. Instead, just as the window was closing, Moyes paid £27m for Marouane Fellaini. It was a strange decision. United clearly need a creative midfielder and for all Fellaini's strengths, creativity wouldn't be top of the list.
Did Moyes succumb to the temptation of signing someone just for the sake of it? Guilty of doing something because everyone expected him to? United's midfield does not lack strength and physical presence, so the addition of the Belgian was curious.
To be a successful manager you must have players at your disposal capable of delivering the goods.
Moyes' ability to select the right men at the top end of market who can handle the pressure of being a United player is unproven.
There is an expectation for United to sign marquee players, and the manager must have the personality and vision to persuade such names to enlist in his project in Manchester. So far he hasn't shown himself to be capable of doing that.
Moyes cannot fall into the trap of paying inflated prices for mediocrity. He needs to demonstrate he can identify a player worthy of ensuring United challenge for honours, as opposed to the players he targeted at Everton. He is operating in a sector of the transfer market he has never encountered before, a sector that demands qualities he didn't require up to now.
Many will point to Ferguson's bad start at Old Trafford and the woes he experienced in his initial few years. However, there are crucial differences to remember.
Ferguson was a winner -- he proved as much with Aberdeen when he broke the domination of the Old Firm before achieving European success by landing the Cup Winners' Cup in 1983. Fergie arrived in Manchester knowing how to win, knowing what is needed to be a winner.
Moyes has no such credentials. At Everton he won nothing. His achievements at Goodison Park had merit, but never earned silverware. He maintained the status quo at Everton, something for which he received widespread acclaim.
The expectations he faced on Merseyside were a million miles from the pressure of having to win trophies year after year, pressure he has walked into at Old Trafford.
I wonder too has Roberto Martinez caused people to maybe slightly reassess Moyes' time at Everton. The Toffees look a different side under their new manager, a team capable of going to Emirates last Sunday and enjoying more possession than the accomplished hosts -- not to mention deservedly winning at Old Trafford before that.
Would those results and performances have occured under Moyes?
Sadly for the new United manager, the expectations at Old Trafford are now far removed from the time Ferguson took command. When Ferguson came to the club, United hadn't won the league since 1967. Such was his success, United are now expected to win it every year.
After Ferguson's time in charge, United simply don't accept second best. Right now, the Red Devils are a long way from even being second best, a situation that won't be tolerated indefinitely.
They are 13 points off league leaders Arsenal and even the staunchest supporters are struggling to make a credible case for their team retaining their crown.
With every passing week, as the team struggles to find fluency, the prospect of United not qualifying for the Champions League becomes a more realistic scenario. Should that come to pass, the difficulty of Moyes' task becomes exponentially greater.
Can we expect to see Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in a red shirt if United aren't playing Champions League football next season?
Could the game's best players be lured to Old Trafford without having an opportunity to play in Europe's greatest club competition?
I expect not and, as their opponents would become stronger, United would be left standing still and struggling to keep hold of their best players. Even as things stand, stories continue to circulate concerning Van Persie's unhappiness.
Players are supposedly struggling to come to terms with the methods of Moyes and his back-room team as they implement a regime far removed from what the players were used to under Ferguson.
Of all the players at his disposal, Moyes' reign may well have its greatest dependency on Van Persie. His health, his happiness and his goals are commodities the boss can't live without.
The Dutchman's absence has been a massive factor in United's poor results. When Ferguson departed, nobody expected the United juggernaut to carry on seamlessly. A period of transition was expected, but I suspect there is more at play here.
Moyes looks to be a man out of his depth. He doesn't inspire and doesn't have the aura of a man who knows where things are going wrong.
And if you can't identify a problem, then finding the solution is impossible.
I have no doubt he will keep battling, and will be honest in his endeavours and determination to be a success.
But at United, I fear honest endeavour won't be enough. The great managers that were successful at the world's biggest clubs always possessed a mix of qualities that facilitate the achieving of great things. They had an X-factor.
I don't see such an X-factor with Moyes. Maybe such judgments are made with too much haste and this could yet be a long association with a happy ending. But the signs are ominous.