United’s perspective: Reds demise and managerial change has lifted the mood
With Liverpool looking like they might blow their chance to land a long-awaited title and a new mood at Old Trafford, the season has improved dramatically for United fans.
Let’s make no bones about it, the season has been a disaster and there is little point in dressing it up as anything else.
While the most optimistic United followers were realistic to conceded that retaining the trophy was always going to be difficult, the drop in level of performance was something alarming.
Dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle and an embarrassing exit to Sunderland in the Carling Cup semi-final were bad blows for their manner of nothing else, while performances in the league have been at times abysmal.
Public utterances that United “weren’t a sacking club” were irrelevant once Moyes oversaw demoralising defeats against all their rivals. Alex Ferguson may have chosen his fellow Scot, but perhaps on reflection he was simply the best option available one Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola became non-runners.
Likely to end up seventh, performances in Europe were acceptable if not eye-catching. A blitzing of Leverkusen aside, it was more workman-like, with Bayern putting paid to fanciful notions that Europe could be the only avenue for silverware. The score line did little to reflect the reigning champion’s dominance over the two legs.
The lack of summer signings, discontent behind the scene, an inflated contract for Rooney and a downbeat manner with the press, never mind a style of play alien to United teams, only added to the frustration.
As if such a demise was not bad enough in itself, the resurgence of Liverpool was simply rubbing salt into the wounds.
The team who Ferguson once claimed he wanted to eloquently “knock off their f***ing perch” were displaying the kind of swash-buckling football that was commonplace at Old Trafford during the Red Devils pomp.
United’s loss at Anfield was put down to Moyes bedding in, and in truth both sides offered little in attack, but the demolition in Manchester was clear demonstration that the rot was too deep for a man of Moyes’ pedigree to overcome.
While the removal of Moyes was the logical step, the execution was a poor reflection on the club and showed little respect for Moyes, regardless of his troubled time in the hot seat.
Like all managerial changes under such circumstances, the mood has lifted and Ryan Giggs can do little wrong from here until the end of the season. Spring brings eternal sunshine and there is now giddy excitement at what manager may come in on a full-time basis. The front runners Louis van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti offer the experience and success that Moyes just couldn’t bring to the table.
Summer signings will be key, and it can’t go any worse than last year. Major surgery is required and Ed Woodward will earn his crust in the transfer market. Although a trusted member of the Glazer family, failure improve the squad and his reign as chief-executive could see his role come to a similar end to Moyes.
Added to this Liverpool’s loss to Chelsea at the weekend and it’s not hard to see why smiles around Old Trafford are grinning from ear-to-ear.
Taking such enjoyment out of your rival’s misfortune is a convenient way to mask problems closer to home, but as their traditional rivals, few would be overly disappointed to see their domestic drought continue for at least another year.
Aside from the satisfaction of Liverpool’s plight, it will come as a relief. Under Ferguson’s watch in the Premier League, the Red Devils invariably got the better of their Merseyside rivals.
In this period of transition, it will be difficult to see other teams claim the silverware that resided at Old Trafford so regularly over the past twenty years.
There would hardly be rejoicing from the terraces if the trophy ends up at Stamford Bridge or across town at the Etihad, but for many they would be preferable alternatives to Anfield.
For years the Stretford End has derided Liverpool with their ambitions at the start of each season, vowing that it will be an improvement on the previous campaign.
Next year will United’s turn to look forward with optimism and put the 2013/14 season to bed once and for all.