A lot has been said about how Alex Ferguson left behind a stagnating team – not least the subtle dig that he got out because he knew the side wouldn’t be up to it this season.
But if it is true that he thought his last Manchester United side were on the way out, he did the right thing. According to the man himself, it was December 2012 that he made up his mind about retiring; which he put down to the passing of his wife’s sister and the professional aspect of finishing on a high note.
Knowing that it would take a good few years to build yet another dynasty at Old Trafford it was now or never for Ferguson last season. As much as it doesn’t seem so at the moment – with United lying dormant in seventh place – it was probably better he left so Moyes could mould his own team (seeing as it was obvious it needed refurbishing despite their title win last season) rather than buy another load of players – which is what they needed – and leave behind more personnel disappointed at his departure.
He has already apologised to Robin van Persie for leaving having signed him on the premise that he would be around for a while as opposed to the one season that the Dutchman experienced under him. He couldn’t do it to another batch of players, although I wonder if he has said sorry to Wilfried Zaha. It’s very doubtful he would have told the former Crystal Palace man about his imminent retirement. Seeing that Zaha has hardly featured under David Moyes the young winger probably feels he’s due an apology for being bought under false pretences.
Many things could have dictated the club’s inconsistent form so far. Players may be getting told things by Moyes that are alien to them, but don’t take him seriously enough because of the lack of trophies to his name. Despite his good record at Everton, Ferguson and managers like Mourinho can point to their honours list and say ‘these things I’m telling you are what helped me win the Champions League’.
Jamie Carragher said as much last week when he recalled Rafa Benitez’s methods at Liverpool. At first the footballer turned pundit would be dubious of Benitez’s logic. But once he thought about it and assessed what the Spaniard had achieved in his career (two league titles and a UEFA Cup with Valencia amongst other things), he was happy to go along with his ideas.
Maybe the players are as focused as ever, but have all happened to have hit bad form at the same time All players struggle at some point especially ones that are near the end of their careers such as Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs. Alex Ferguson didn’t criticise his players in public (rarely, anyway), so it was natural for him to counter the claims that it was a weak Manchester United side (although, with a title in the bag, who was to quarrel with him?). But the image of a man who has often been heard saying he ‘thrives on challenges’ heading out of Old Trafford in a panic over their future fortunes is one I cannot imagine.
If he was in the mood for a few more seasons then all the better, but those who are partly blaming him for their current predicament for not overhauling the squad two or more summers ago are wide of the mark. If he had began building a new side the club would have had to go through the rigmarole of selling numerous players and buying ones that would potentially not be to Moyes’ taste; as Zaha has found to his cost (mentally, not literally, as I’m sure he’s a earning a far more handsomer figure than he was at Crystal Palace). United will be getting rid of players this summer for sure, but better to have three or four first-teamers surplus to requirements rather than a potential eight or nine.
What do you think of the state Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in? Leave your comments below.