Thursday, 24 April 2014


WATCHING Davie Moyes being hung out to dry on the Man Utd washing line wasn’t a pretty or pleasant spectator sport.

But the resident cynic in me admits that the wee bit of compassion I felt for him in his moment of humiliation has evaporated already.

He was never the right man for the job in the first place.

And I’d go as far as to say that the timing of his sacking was wrong - he should have been away by last Christmas!

Someone once told me that it pays to be a failure in football. Well, in that case, Moyes has been a spectacular flop.

So, think of the situation not so much as a man picking up his P45 but of a man winning the Lottery. He’s a wealthy guy already, but he’ll soon be spectacularly richer.

He’s just bought a £5million ticket that nobody else in the country will buy.

Save your compassion for those who really need it: there’ll be plenty of wee souls around Britain who’ll be losing their jobs - and will only have a week’s money with which to feed the family.

The fact is Moyes will take his big pay-off, attempt to bury his disappointment in the white sands of Mauritius or somewhere similarly exotic, and move on to another football address, if not such a fancy one as Old Trafford.

Someone else, perhaps the imperious looking Louis Van Gaal, will come in as a replacement. And life will move on.

Well, it may not move on quite so peacefully if, as reports suggest, the combative Roy Keane enters the equation as his assistant. But that potential Punch and Judy Show is reserved for future viewing.

What I’m still trying to figure out is why Moyes came to be at Old Trafford in the first place. When he was at Goodison, he had good sides and he had not so good sides. He did spend some time avoiding relegation a little while back, but he had time in abundance.

There were negatives: some wag labelled him “Dave the Ditherer” for an alleged failure to make up his mind about the recruitment of playing staff.

Aside from that, he had always been a defensive manager and any time Everton did anything was by sheer weight of numbers.

Sure, they were hard to beat; they went to places and sneaked goals - but this was a completely foreign ethic to Manchester United. They never played like that; they never were like that.

So, hereabouts, we should turn our attentions to Sir Alex Ferguson, who picked his fellow Scot out as the Chosen One.
I’d imagine Fergie is suffering deep disappointment right now, not to say embarrassment.

Oh, nothing will ever take away his achievements as a Manchester United manager, nor what he did for the game as a whole in the process. But this move turned into a barely watchable reality show.

Surprise, Surprise could be renamed Astounding, Astounding.

Look, if Fergie never handled failure very well as a manager, the important thing was he could always put things right the next week.

Unfortunately, the appointment of David Moyes is now a stain on Ferguson’s curricula vitae that will never be erased - it’s resistant to all known detergents.

Nobody knows, or maybe is unlikely to know, the exact nature of the relationship shared by the two men. Until Fergie comes out with another book, of course. But I imagine there’ll be a bit of him that says: “I shouldn’t have got involved in this - I should have left it to somebody else.”

What we do know is that the appointment equalled a catastrophic mistake. And it was a catastrophic mistake to imagine that the Man Utd way of playing would have been continued by Moyes.

If I remember correctly, it was mooted in some quarters some years ago that Martin O’Neill would be the one to replace Fergie, but it was blown out of the water by the suggestion that O’Neill’s style would be incompatible with United’s.
Yet that was conveniently forgotten when Moyes was appointed.

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall and witnessed their relationship over the last few months.

Maybe Fergie thought if he had a fellow Glaswegian on board, then he could influence things. But, obviously, with the way the new arrival went about it - sacking Fergie’s backroom staff and alienating his squad by talking openly about making six or seven signings - suggests he didn’t want that influence.

I remember coming across something similar when I went back to Celtic Park as a scout under Tommy Burns. We were sitting having a cup of tea and Jaffa cakes and there had been a suggestion that Billy McNeill should come in and oversee things with Tommy.

Tommy shook his head and I asked him why.

“’Cos Big Billy would have been asking the washer woman which soap powder she was using to wash the strips,” he replied.

“And maybe the groundsman wouldn’t have been cutting the grass the right way. At the start, Billy’s input might have been 20 or 30 per cent; by the time his feet were under the table, you’d find it was 60 or 70 per cent. I couldn’t have that.”

Hey, who knows in this daft game of ours, maybe Fergie thought that Moyes could adapt himself and grow into the job. But the truth is that everything he touched in those ten months in charge has turned to dust.

I remember one match early on when the camera panned in on Fergie and his face was set to fizz. You could almost see steam coming out of his ears.

There was no width on the park, everything was concentrated in the middle of the park. But that was Big Davy’s way of playing: narrow everything down, sit back for 70 minutes away from home until opportunity presented itself.

I mean, there was a time when going to Hull and winning 1-0 was a great result for Everton. But this was Manchester United. A bit of style and class was demanded.

It was apparent that the majority of players were not singing from the same hymn sheet. How did Patrice Evra and the boy Buttner feel when they knew the manager was trying to sign Leighton Baines?

They weren’t going to get the toolboxes out if noises were being made that they weren’t going to be there long. He kept making it known in public that some players weren’t good enough.

So Fergie, whatever the input he has in the next appointment, has to live with the memory of this fiasco. If he‘d gone into proper retirement and let them get on with running United, perhaps voiced his opinion if and when it was asked for, it would perhaps be a very different story,

But he seems to like being the doyen of managers - the Godfather, giver of gifts.

Well, this one's come back to haunt him. He‘s a racing man is Sir Alex and, in racing terms, he backed the wrong horse.