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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Why David Moyes’ Weakness May Be His Strength At Manchester United

Written by on May 13, 2013 | 8 Comments »
Posted in Everton, Manchester United

A British politician once said that “a week is a long time in politics.” That sentiment is easily shifted to sport and there is no better example than the last seven days in English football.


Last week at this time the focus was on the fight for the last two Champions League spots, the FA Cup Final and who was to be relegated along with QPR and Reading.


Over the last seven days the fight for the Champions League has narrowed to one of Tottenham Hotspur or Arsenal; Wigan upset the odds by beating Manchester City in the Cup Final; the last relegation spot will be one of Wigan, Sunderland or Aston Villa.

However, the overarching story has been… to read more please click on the link.

8 responses to “Why David Moyes’ Weakness May Be His Strength At Manchester United”

  1. Astronomer says:

    I think David Moyes’s appointment may bode well for Manure in the Champions League. Moyes is a fairly defensive-minded coach and from watching his Everton teams over the years (albeit on TV), I have gotten the impression that against better opponents, he frequently employs a very compact 4-5-1 or a close variant, like the 4-1-4-1. This type of compact formation is very difficult to break down and can be particularly effective in competitive knockout tournaments, like the Champions League.

    If Moyes uses the above or other similar defensively tight formations in the CL (keeping in mind that Manure has more talented personnel than Everton), it might bring good results for him in that competition.

    Alejandro’s record in the CL is decidedly mediocre — even his 2 CL final victories were of the fluke variety (in 1999, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Bayern Munich outplayed Manure for nearly the whole game, only to lose the tie to two injury-time goals and nine years later, Manure won the trophy by beating Chelsea on penalty kicks).

    Arguably, one of the most important reasons Alejandro has had problems in the CL is his inability to appreciate the extraordinary importance of playing a compact defense in a knockout tournament, like the CL. His usual gung-ho, (and overconfident) attacking style of play (so helpful in winning many EPL titles) did not stand him in good stead in Europe (against technically superior continental opposition).

    Moyes, being more defensive-minded than his predecessor, thus might be good news for Manure in terms of the CL.

  2. John Bladen says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Bobby. I can think of a better replacement for SAF than David Moyes.

    I get the feeling that there has been a reluctance on the part of the Glazers to challenge Gill/Ferguson with financial restrictions (though Man U has, as many note, spent less in recent years – comparatively). I wonder if the reins might be pulled up a bit with the new tandem in place next year?

    Still, Moyes is a solid manager and might prove to be the “least change” from Ferguson that the players could have hoped for. I’m sure there will be rocky periods, but on balance I’d say Man U will prosper with Moyes at the helm.

    I really thought Ferguson would sell Rooney when he staged his wage holdout 18 mos (?) ago. I doubt Moyes will waste much time in selling him on, but who to?

  3. Ian says:

    Bobby and John, I too agree that Moyes offers the best possible chance for a continuation of the formula that has been so successful over the previous 20+ years. RVP was an excellent example of why Moyes’ lack of silverware is a poor argument against the potential of his future success at United. I have been arguing with more than a few fellow fans over the last week concerning that very issue, trying to explain why Jose “3 and out” Mourinho was a short-sighted option and more importantly a poor fit for the Club. I found myself saying “why didnt i think of that” as i was reading! Bobby, you in particular have been pointing out Mou’s MO (Please, please, tell me I am the first to think of that! Mourinho’s modus operandi) of only staying for a short time and, while always winning a trophy or two, leaving the club in worse shape than he found it. For united and their mountain of debt, cleaning up the type of chaos he seems to leave in his wake would be much more problematic than it was for a team with the resources of Chelsea or will be for a team with the resources of Real.

    In describing the ways Moyes is a good fit you also mentioned “drive”. And to expand on that, I have been struck by the number of times Moyes “work ethic” has been mentioned over the last week. Described as a tireless and driven worker by everyone from his players, to his board, and most importantly, by the big man himself. The willingness to work hard is clearly the character trait SAF values most in his players, his staff and especially the men he looked up to when he was coming up – think of Big Jock helping park cars not to mention dying on the sideline. Fergie mentions hard work in almost every interview or comment he makes. His own drive and work habits are legend and while I’m sure every top manager works hard, it is clear that Moyes seems to be an extraordinarily driven man in a field of driven men. I would hazard a guess that above all else that is what has led Fergie to choose Moyes and what will hopefully help him and the club get through the inevitable rough patches.

    As a last comment, there seems to be a lot of concern about Sir Alex doing a Sir Matt and casting too big a shadow. I’m of the thought that SAF will be too cautious and aware of history to allow that to happen. At the same time I wonder if there isn’t a conscious decision being made by Fergie (and perhaps Bobby C) to have himself appear somewhat closer to the goings on than he really is. Acting as a weapon and/or shield for Moyes. John touched on it above asking if the reigns might be tightened. And Bobby touched on it even more so at the end of his piece. SAF has always maintained that he’s been given whatever he has asked for financially and while that seems unlikely, he never did pull the trigger on the bazooka he most certainly carries by claiming otherwise. As you described, Bobby, with a few comments Fergie could cause serious issues for the clubs valuation and for the owners. He holds more power in that regard than probably any other person at any other club. Imagine if Sir Alex actually pushed for a boycott (don’t forget he has been a union man in the past) or even just accused the owners of holding the club back. Forget green and yellow scarfs, it would be riots and protests and a big drop in that stock price. Now clearly that would do damage to the club he loves not just the owners so there is no way he “goes nuclear” unless there is no alternative and clearly the Glazers always gave him at least enough not to. It may be that now he is trying to maintain that bazooka to help protect Moyes and the only way to do that is to stay close enough to matter at least in appearance. Thoughts?

  4. Ian says:

    Oh yea, astronomer, your entire post is just a waste of the time I spent reading it. From the childish swapped out words to the completely inaccurate tactical analysis you are everything that is wrong with comment sections, congratulations.

    Lets just skip over the idea that to you, 2 cups and 2 2nd place finishes, including three finals in 4 years is “mediocre”, and just let me mention that if you think United were too “gung-ho” or “over-confident” or in fact even particularly “attacking” in the cl, I would guess that you either never actually watched them play or you don’t have any more understanding of the sport than a fat tween who has only ever played FIFA on his Xbox.

    “Manure”??? Are you serious?

  5. Smiley says:

    There is no logical reason or any evidence for stating Moyes will be successful in CL. He will have a much deeper squad with world class players so his tactics/formation may well be 100% different from those deployed at Everton.

    He may well attain instant success in the league but it will depend on his ability to manage the egos of world class players, something he has yet to encounter… unless you count Darren Gibson! LOL

  6. Astronomer says:

    If my post is such a waste of time, then why waste further time (your precious time !) responding to it — that too in such an immature and churlish manner?

    Also, you wrote:
    “……you are everything that is wrong with comment sections, congratulations.”

    Sure, stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself and read your own post !

    Talk about ad hominem attacks — you are the best example of your own comment.

  7. Ian says:

    Astronomer, im amazed that someone who uses “manure” in their post would dare call anyone else “childish”. The position of your initial point is basically this:

    Moyes is a more defensive minded coach than SAF, therefore he should have more success in the cl.

    Now while I don’t agree with that analysis at all, I wouldn’t have had any problem with you stating it, if you had made that argument without all of the ridiculous pot shots at united and Fergie. You are just this side of a troll. I have just as little regard for a united fan making similar idiotic comments about Liverpool or City or one of their heroes for no reason other than tribalism. Especially on a post clearly about said team.
    I concede that I got overly nasty about it, but after a reading a weeks worth of similar posts by similar nitwits who wrap up partisan SAF bashing in faux thoughtful analysis, yours was the proverbial straw. I’m sorry, but you and trolls like you (regardless of who you support) disgust me. I support my club but I still have respect for and show respect to our rivals and their talents. I have no problem looking in the mirror.

  8. Astronomer says:

    Thanks for feeling at least partially contrite — an achievement for a Manure fan.


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