Monday 16 September 2019

John Giles: Old Trafford legend's selective memories paint inaccurate picture of life after Fergie

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Alex Ferguson with David Moyes
Alex Ferguson with David Moyes

John Giles

Bryan Robson is long enough in the game to know that winners write the history books and at a club like Manchester United, selective amnesia is in force when it comes to David Moyes.

Robson was writing about  Moyes before his return to Old Trafford over the holiday with Sunderland and he said some very unkind and inaccurate things about the year after Alex Ferguson’s exit.

He claimed that Moyes had £250m burning a hole in his pocket  during the summer he took over and wondered why he didn’t spend it.

He omitted to mention the fact that Moyes was dealing with a novice in the transfer market in Ed Woodward, who couldn’t buy a player to save his life.

If there is a better example of the reason why people like Woodward should be kept as far away from buying players as is humanly possible, I haven’t seen it.

As I’ve often mentioned in the past, cleverer versions of  Woodward, in my day club directors, have ways to avoid doing what the manager wants and I am convinced that this was the biggest obstacle to Moyes and his chances of making a go of Manchester United.

Another baffling claim was that Moyes failed because he dumped Ferguson’s back-room team.

That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a long time. If anything, Moyes didn’t act strongly enough to get rid of the last vestiges of Ferguson’s empire.

Put it this way – how many of Louis van Gaal’s staff are still working with the club, or how many of Mourinho’s people are still at Chelsea, where Conte is pulling up trees?

His third point, that Moyes inherited a great squad which had just won the league by a considerable margin completely ignores the extraordinary control Ferguson exerted over the men he managed. His final title win was as great as any of the many he enjoyed.

If Robson wants a recent example of how fragile a strong squad bubble can be, he need only reference Mourinho’s woes last season at Chelsea, where the players downed tools three months after winning the Premier League.

Antonio Conte’s push towards the title is becoming a relentless thing and he’s doing it with Mourinho’s squad.

Granted he added a big player, N’Golo Kante, to his group but not much else and he is now in the happy position where Roman Abramovich will give him anything he asks for.

Mourinho seems to be in much the same position at Manchester United now and Woodward’s favourite person of the moment is his agent, Jorge Mendes, who will make sure that the coming transfer windows are very busy.

That’s one of the reasons I still feel that Mourinho will be somewhere in the mix when the title is decided.

I look at the other clubs chasing Chelsea at the moment and I can find a good reason why each one of them is incapable of stitching together the kind of run needed.

I feel Mourinho has a grip on the job now and his team is beginning to function with some sort of consistency.

I have to admit that I got the Wayne Rooney/Zlatan Ibrahimoivhc story completely wrong and I must tip my hat to the veteran striker, who is really having a fine season.

I thought he would get bored and that Rooney would be better.

In this form, Mourinho can live without Rooney very easily. The club captain’s form slump was so obvious that there was no decision to make.

Can he or any of the others catch Chelsea? I’m not sure they can.

Chelsea proved they can win without Kante and Diego Costa which was a big moment for Conte, but let’s be honest, Cesc Fabrgas is not a bad man to bring in so he’s not that badly off.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he bought one or two next month, perhaps a defender and a striker if he can get a good  one.

But he won’t change the balance much. It’s working for him and it looks like the only thing that will stop him in his tracks is an unlucky run of injuries.

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