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As United enter the sack race, it’s clear Moyes was just another rule to Ferguson’s exception On Tuesday Manchester United, seemingly forever English football’s most stable club, sacked their manager David Moyes. The six year contract awarded to the Scot last summer in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement had been torn up and with it, the club’s reputation as a dignified business with eyes solely on the long-term good had disappeared. ‘They’re not a sacking club’, the masses preached until now and some still do. The bumper deal handed to Moyes last summer upon his appointment appeared to underpin that sentiment. Removing their man wouldn’t be high up on the hierarchy’s agenda, regardless if the Premier League trophy and European success was beyond them, for a year at least. The reality however, doesn’t lend itself to the myth. Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford lasted over 26 years before he walked away with a quite remarkable league title in tow obtained with a squad of players considerably less so. Five of the last six Manchester United managers have been fired. Long before Moyes and while Ferguson made his way as a player and then manager north of the border O’Farrell, Docherty, Sexton and Atkinson bit the dust from the one office in Old Trafford’s main stand. Those respective managers were at United’s helm for one, five, four and five years respectively. Just like any other club, it turns out they are loyal to a manager but only if they’re good. In Moyes’
predecessor, only the very early years of his reign raised any chance of a sacking. Ferguson wasn’t the rule, he was the exception. It’s slightly misleading to mention that United’s perception as a club and business that preaches patience and thus stability using those sackings prior to Ferguson. That goes back forty years and in that time they, football and the corporate world have changed immeasurably. Now, it’s the former that has become more ensconced in the latter. Business is the name of the game and football can be a decidedly dirty one at that. Commercial concerns and stock market floatation rates rule the roost now. Once Ferguson, a conduit to and veteran of several bygone eras had left, any new man would lack the pre-obtained power or clout to shield themselves from criticism. Ferguson, and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, have pre-dated the shift in demand and dynamics of top level football boardrooms and its machinations.
United’s reputation for preaching perseverance has been built simply on the constancy in the man that came to define the club and redefine the city and its borders. When it came down to it, David Moyes wasn’t up to the task of reenergising the side, serving only to oversee its regression. He had nothing to ball back on. Ferguson doesn’t escape blame by any measure in Moyes’ failure. Since his arrival from Everton, he’s failed to win the support of senior players and angered playing staff and fans alike with his prosaic attacking style. Not retaining any of the previous regime’s coaching staff appeared odd as any semblance of continuity within his circle was sacrificed. One would think, given Ferguson’s intimate knowledge of his players and the very fact he would have held their ear, he could have foreseen the issues in handing over the most decorated squad in modern football over to a coach who had never won a trophy nor finished high than fourth in the Premier League.