David Moyes is back in management after agreeing a contract with Real Sociedad. It’s a bold step for a man whose dream job at Manchester United became a nightmare after just a few months. Lauded on his arrival at Old Trafford as Fergie’s ‘chosen one’ he was sacked 10 months later, looking like the ‘frozen one’ in the glare of the Glazer headlights.
I have written previously that I think Moyes undermined himself with his demeanour as Manchester United boss. Too often he looked daunted. This was not entirely unreasonable given that following Ferguson could never be less than daunting but he had to either hide it or get over it quickly. He didn’t really seem to do either.
Contrast Moyes’ demeanour with that of van Gaal, the Dutchman looks as though he’s never been daunted his life.
Relocating to Spain in a bid to rehabilitate his reputation is surely another daunting prospect for Moyes but I wish him well and I think he’ll succeed. He certainly made mistakes in Manchester but when you look at the start that van Gaal’s made with a much better squad, a reassessment of the difficulties endured by his predecessor is warranted.
Even signing Fellaini is starting to make some sort of sense. I still think that was a mistake actually but not the huge one that it initially appeared to be. A much bigger mistake was not performing immediate and radical surgery on the squad that he inherited from Ferguson. Not only was it necessary in itself it would also have helped to establish Moyes’ own authority at Manchester United.
Alas he didn’t and the authority that would have come from winning matches was somewhat hampered by the frequency with which his side lost them.
Moyes takes over a Sociedad side sitting 15th in La Liga. Of course new managers never take over sides that are winning do they? Oh wait, well, anyway, this side that he’s just assumed responsibility for have not been winning much of late and a period of rebuilding looks to be required.
The biggest challenge that Moyes will face in the first few months is the language barrier. He’ll be taking intensive Spanish classes but it will still be hard to get his players to fully understand what he wants from them. Moyes is a hands-on type of coach and so being properly understood will be all the more important for him.
It must be admitted though that some of Manchester United’s displays under him were so disjointed that you have to wonder if he gave the team talk in Spanish.
One man who knows what it’s like to venture abroad as a coach nursing a bruised reputation is Steve McClaren. He has warned Moyes that his head will probably be spinning to begin with until he starts to adapt to the culture and gets to know the league.
McLaren achieved great success with Twente in the Eredivisie, guiding them to the title. Real will probably win the league in Spain this season but it won’t be Sociedad. Moyes will content himself with more modest achievements from his new side.
He’s chosen another daunting assignment but hopefully he’s learned enough not to show it this time.