Gary Neville sparked debate with one tweet that summed up his view on the problems at Manchester United.
This mess started when United sacked David Moyes after 8 months and we lost all sense of the values that the club had been built on for 100 years . It’s not the manager it’s the lack of football leadership above him. They are bouncing all over the place with no plan!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) September 30, 2018
The Moyes Mess
The former-England man is correct in his statement that the upper echelons of the club “are bouncing all over the place with no plan”. But while that is true, the idea that the current “mess started when United sacked David Moyes after 8 months”, is patently false.
This mess started the day United hired the Scotsman. The decision to appoint David Moyes has famously been laid on the shoulders of Sir Alex Ferguson, who apparently recommended him.
While Moyes built a solid foundation from which Everton became a consistent top half team, he was notoriously unsuccessful in bringing in trophies, which is a key priority at United. He was unsuitable from the start.
Neville also states that this decision to fire the former Sunderland manager destroyed “the values that the club had been built on for 100 years”.
This showcases the rose-tinted glasses that so many United fans possess. It is a myth that, as a result of the famous reigns of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby, who enjoyed great success and longevity, that United have never been a club like Chelsea or Man City who hire and fire managers constantly.
Managers such as Wilf McGuinness, Ron Atkinson, Dave Sexton were all sacked for failing to deliver the success the club had become accustomed to.
It is the snobbishness with which United fans have looked down on opposition teams from atop the high horse during the Ferguson era that has perhaps stunted the club's development.
The collective raised eyebrows at the prospect of the club firing a manager, as it represents what the fan base have mocked others for, has meant that United have had to put up with mediocrity for the sake of their own pride.
A new model?
Clubs such as the aforementioned Chelsea and Manchester City have both seen supreme domestic success in the past decade and are not afraid to fire a manager when they feel their heights aren’t being reached.
Manuel Pellegrini was replaced at City despite having the fifth-highest win percentage in Premier League history. Chelsea fired Antonio Conte just one season after setting multiple records to obtain the Premier League title.
Neville is correct in the essence of his tweet and the core message surrounding the instability and incoherence at the top of the club highlights the need for severe restructuring of the football club. However, the idea that this mess started when Moyes was dismissed is absurd. Furthermore, the idea that Manchester United are too good to fire managers when they are underperforming is precisely the reason why they are still in this position.