There’s more than just Wayne Rooney to worry about for David Moyes as he enters the biggest challenge of his career; trying to fill the huge shoes Alex Ferguson leaves at Manchester United. There’s sorting out an again defense, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic no longer reliable as before, while trying to upgrade a sub-par midfield when it comes to Champions League standards, and finding a way to sort out the attack and its hierarchy.
One thing Moyes is going to have to change about his ways is start playing attacking football. Everton haven’t had the resources and talent he now has at his disposal, including the funds. There’s a chance he might be able to spend in one or two summers (if he lasts that long) more than he did during his entire reign at Everton. And United, in order to be more than just dominant locally, but return to prominence in Europe after two quite disappointing seasons in that aspect, will need to spend. Not Manchester City or Chelsea kind of money, but one big signing, along with a couple of minor tweaks, is recommended.
But there are musts to be taken care of before anything else. Sorting out who stays and who goes. One of the special traits Alex Ferguson has a manager is keeping his players content, or at least not having them in full-revolt mode, even if they’re not pleased for not playing too much. Big squads call for good players to be under-used sometimes, like Javier Hernandez can claim to be. The Mexican striker is one of the more efficient finishers in the Premier League, but that hasn’t won him a place in the United lineup for too long.
Wayne Rooney – staying or going, is probably going to be the first decision. United have already made that one up: They want him to stay, but that doesn’t mean Rooney has given up on his demand to be transferred. Not only does it involve re shuffling the tactics and projected lineups for Moyes, but it also significantly increases the amount of money he’ll be allowed to spend on new players.
If there’s one place he should start diving into, it’s the midfield. Michael Carrick has been the face of consistency, but all those who have played around him – Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Ryan Giggs and the retiring Paul Scholes had their faults and plenty of weaknesses. Too slow or simply unwise tactically, United needed a better midfield more than once. The way they claimed the title speaks volumes for Ferguson’s influence on his own players and the feat he strikes in other clubs, while the terrible form of Chelsea and Manchester City throughout the season, although both of them have beaten United at Old Trafford when it no longer mattered in 2013.
A lot depends on the way United will be playing under Moyes. This won’t be another team that heavily relies on long balls and crosses towards Marouane Fellaini in the box, although his arrival will certainly bring another aerial dimension for United, which was not too bad offensively but had quite a lot of issues on defense, coming from the communication problems David de Gea had with his defense early on.
Ferguson tinkered between a winger-less formation this season and using Nani/Ashley Young/Antonio Valencia. The winger formation worked during their “comeback” stage of the season, when each match began with United conceding one or twice, and Ferguson later giving up on his tactics and simply playing sort of gung-ho football, usually working out for the best.
Later on, came the boring period. United played in a more centralized fashion, with Danny Welbeck as a defensive striker, busy with disrupting rather than scoring, which isn’t his strongest suit. Finding the right kind of balance in the midfield, not leaving Carrick or whoever plays as the defensive midfilder and deep playmaker too exposed will be something Moyes should address by simply purchasing someone of higher quality than what United currently have.
While Rio Ferdinand has had his dominant moments this season, they’ve been filled with mistake-prone moments, and the same goes for Vidic. Too many injuries, and no longer being physically dominant in the air, or as commanding in their tackles and positioning. United need something more, something better. Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling. They’re the future, but something better seems to be waiting if the search is expanded.
Revolution is never a good thing, and it’s hard to believe Moyes will try to mess too much with something that has worked so well for so long, especially as long as Alex Ferguson remains in touch with the club. And yet a change on the sidelines isn’t the only transformation Manchester United will be going through this summer, as some familiar faces will find themselves leaving the club, and at least one familiar face on a global scale will be arriving.