Is David Moyes United’s biggest recruitment blunder in years?

Blog by: Outside of the boot

David Moyes is under quite a bit of pressure after just four games as manager of Manchester United (Getty Images)

In appointing David Moyes to succeed Alex Ferguson, have Manchester United made their biggest recruitment blunder, since their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid millions of pounds to sign Massimo Taibi to replace goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel?

Moyes is only four competitive matches into his six-year Manchester United contract – just three if one concludes that the FA Community Shield is a glorified friendly game – but already there is a social media campaign to oust Moyes from the Old Trafford hot seat. Manchester United fans have not liked what they have seen from the Red Devils under the former Everton boss and their anger at losing 0-1 to arch rivals Liverpool increased, when Moyes paid over the odds to sign Marouane Fellaini not long before the transfer window shut. Many Manchester United supporters are underwhelmed.

The consensus is that Manchester United will persevere with Moyes for at least a couple of seasons regardless of how the Red Devils perform in the Premier League and various knockout competitions, most importantly the UEFA Champions League. History supports that viewpoint, with the managers who succeeded Matt Busby after his two spells as Manchester United boss – Wilf McGuinness in 1969 and Frank O’Farrell in 1971 – each having 18 months in the role before being given their marching orders.

So anyone who thinks that Moyes will be out of work before Christmas next year is dreaming. It is laughable that major betting sites such as Sky Bet and SportsBettingOnline have Moyes trading at just 20/1 to be the first Premier League manager replaced this term.

But there are attractive betting opportunities for punters who believe that Moyes is out of his depth at Manchester United and will not be going anywhere soon. Remember that Ferguson was the primary mover behind Manchester United’s recruitment of Moyes and no one will want to make him look like a fool. Manchester United will give Moyes every opportunity to succeed, but his record in big matches – every match is a big one for the Red Devils – poor handling of Wayne Rooney and panic buy of Fellaini suggests that he will fail to deliver the trophies that his team demands.

It is worth highlighting Moyes’ record in big games, because while there is little argument that he did a good job in maintaining Everton’s Premier League status and its relevance, he drew a blank on the silverware front. Indeed, Moyes has only one title – and a minor one at that – to show for his 15 and a half years as a boss.

Everton made the final of only one tournament under Moyes, going down 1-2 to Chelsea in the English FA Cup decider after taking the lead in the first minute. Managing Manchester United is all about handling pressure and winning trophies. Moyes has not proven that he can do that. Actually, quite the opposite.

Manchester United lost 1-0 to Liverpool in their last league game (Getty Images)

When Manchester United played Liverpool at Anfield last time out, broadcasters made many mentions of the fact that Moyes has not won a match at Anfield in spite of being in charge of Everton for more than 11 seasons. Liverpool away is the biggest fixture on Everton’s program every term and yet Moyes was unable to lead the Toffees to a single success at Anfield.

If one is convinced that Moyes is a dud of epic proportions, one can obtain good odds about a number of scenarios playing out over the next nine months or so. For example, Manchester United is odds on to win UEFA Champions League Group A even though the Red Devils, contrary to popular opinion, are in the toughest section. According to the Euro Club Index team, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad are the 4th, 17th, 19th and 28th strongest European sides respectively.

That means that UEFA Champions League Group A is even harder than UEFA Champions League Group D in which Manchester City finds itself facing Bayern Munchen, CSKA Mosvka and Plzen. UEFA Champions League Group A is the genuine Group of Death and so one should look to oppose Manchester United, either by laying the Red Devils on a betting exchange or backing all its opponents. Certainly worth a look are the odds of 4/1 that Manchester United does not qualify for the knockout stages of this years competition.

Domestically, one could argue that all of Manchester United’s major rivals – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham – have improved this season, whereas the Red Devils have deteriorated. Leading UK bookie Stan James is offering odds of 9/10 that Manchester United will not win a big trophy this term, by which they mean the English Premier League, English FA Cup, English Capital One Cup and either of UEFA’s events.

In the Premier League era under Ferguson, Manchester United drew five blanks out of 21, with the latest being in 2011-2012. Not since 2008-2009 have Manchester United won multiple tournaments in the same season and the Red Devils have been paired, albeit at home, against Liverpool in the next round of the softest competition – the English Capital One Cup. Stan James may regret offering such generous odds.

Finally, Stan James is betting on Manchester United’s fate in the Premier League as well. Manchester United are available at odds of 6/5 to miss the top two, 7/4 to miss the top three and 9/2 to miss the top four. One could strike worst bets than backing Manchester United at odds of 6/5 not to feature in the Premier League top two.

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