By Matt Gault
It was never going to be easy. When David Moyes arrived at the Carrington training complex shortly after 8am on July 1, he knew he was entering something different. Waving the blue of Merseyside goodbye once and for all, the Scotsman found himself with an unenviable pile of work to busy himself as he took his first strides as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.
Rewind to Old Trafford eight weeks ago when the Champions had just beaten Swansea 2-1 and been presented with the Premier League trophy. A persistent Geoff Shreeves quizzed Ferguson about the future of one Wayne Rooney. Ferguson was forthright with his response that the 26 year-old striker had requested a transfer . Somewhere that day, David Moyes was watching the television with that hardened glare knowing what would face him. Trying to incorporate a happy and enthusiastic Wayne Rooney into his pre-season programme only exacerbated an already bruising work schedule.
Moyes is renowned for the passion he brings to his job, much like his predecessor, but even he knows he had his work cut out for him if he were to make cut a convincing figure in the Old Trafford hotseat.
Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that the 50-year old is experiencing the ultimate baptism of fire as he continues his adaptation to the upper echelons of club football management. Sources indicate that Rooney is “angry and confused” at the current situation at United. The want-away striker responded to comments made by Moyes whereby the new boss appeared to insiunate that Rooney would stay at United for the new season, but relegated to a subordinate role in attack under last season’s top scorer Robin Van Persie. Rooney, like most at the top of the game, is not content with simply watching from the bench while cracking jokes with Anderson and Alex Buttner. Rooney believes he is at the peak of his career, a mindset not necessarily wide of the mark after Moyes declaring that Rooney was the in “the best shape he had seen him in years.” Additionally, Rooney also feels that after nine years service to United with five Premier League’s and a Champions League winners medal leading a long list of honours, there is nothing more to add to a stellar career with the Red Devils and believes that a different club represents the new challenge he craves.
Moyes has therefore hit a potentially crucial stumbling block in the formative days at the helm of Manchester United. His stance was clear and defiant. He and the club reiterated that Rooney was not for sale, however, perhaps his defiance has cornered them into controversy and embarrasment. Having already lost out on a key transfer target in Thiago Alcantara (who joined Bayern Munich on a four-year contract) Moyes was bullish and stated that he never expressed interest in the player in the first place.
The latest of Ferguson’s transfer endeavours starkly demonstrate his determination when it comes to recruitment. For Kagawa, he showed to personally meet the player after starring in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-2 German Cup final victory over Bayern Munich. For Van Persie, there was the burying of the hatchet phone-call to old foe Arsene Wenger to ensure that United deemed the most suitable suitors for the 29-year old. Most importantly, when Wayne Rooney first expressed a desire to leave Manchester United and rumours circulated that he was considering a move across town to rivals City, Ferguson rubbished any rumours and sanctioned Rooney’s leave to a training camp in the USA where he could train and get his head together. Within days he had signed a five-year contract and declared his commitment to United.
Much has been said about Moyes doing the United job his own way which is all well and good. But a shaky start in pre-season can lead to inadequate preparation for the start of the new season and with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City featuring in United’s opening five fixtures, Moyes could do worse than to take a leaf out of his predecessor’s book and show the conviction and fire that made him such a respected figure in Premier League management.