Maximus Tacticus : Manchester United

With the retirement of legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, things were going to be different. But the change has been rather dramatic. From being title contenders to mid table dwellers – it has been a fight this season for Manchester United to keep their reputation intact. David Moyes’ boys are going through the worst season in the Premier League era. Debojyoti Chakraborty scrutinises the Red Devils to find out the reason.

In his farewell speech last year, Sir Alex Ferguson asked for the support and patience of club loyalists towards the newly appointed manager, David Moyes. The then Everton boss was preferred over all other big names being speculated upon at that time and thus has been labelled the Chosen One. There was an air of retrospect around Old Trafford. Everyone admitted Moyes was not handed over the best of squads and with the departure of Chairman David Gill as well, it was going to be a transition period for the champions. I acknowledged the same in my Season Preview and scaled down their target to a podium finish.

But it was really hard to predict that this transition would be so painful (may be even the legendary Paul the Octopus, who made a name for himself in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, would agree). It is like a workplace where the newly appointed Board of Directors – Edward Woodward, the Executive Vice Chairman along with the owners, Glazer family – are not able to draw out a smooth change management plan and, in turn, are suffering from low productivity. They might have expected a trophy-less season – notwithstanding the pointless Community Shield – but certainly not a free fall like this.

David Moyes - his usual look these days
David Moyes – his usual look these days

Manchester United are 7th in the table, a position they have never seen in the Premier League era at such an advanced stage in the league. Their league standing makes it obvious that Red Devils’ stats this season will be pretty poor. But in fact, they are even worse! Before the last match against Cardiff City, Manchester United were the only team, along with Fulham, who had failed to score in the first 15 minutes of any match in the league. So it is clear they are not able to dictate terms from the onset. This becomes quite obvious when one gets to know that Moyes has not even once fielded the same team in any two consecutive matches.


David de Gea, between the sticks, has been one of the very few players who has improved from his last season. But Patrice Evra’s rapidly diminishing form – mainly due to his loss of pace which has impeded him from creating a right balance between attack and defence – has overshadowed the Spaniard’s good showings. To add to the misery, there is no preferred centre back pairing. Or so it seems. Joining Evra in the aging defence are Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic who do not bring in an air of assurance even when they are playing. Their understudy, Johny Evans and Chris Smalling appear to be playing in a club too high for their abilities. But Right Back might be the position which has seen maximum changes this season. Rafael, Smalling, Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia – none have given a run of consistent performances.

Moyes has tried to adapt to United’s favourite wing play with two strikers up front, which does not come naturally to him. He was more accustomed to play 4-4-1-1 where inevitably it would drift towards a compact five-man midfield rather than being too adventurous. But he has been let down by the awful display of wingers. Valencia and Ashley Young have been pathetic. They have averaged 27 crosses per game, better than any team in the league but their successful cross ratio remains one of the lowest. Take for example the loss against Chelsea on 19th January, 2014 – United managed to cross 26 times but only 4 of them were successful. Age has caught up with Ryan Giggs and one must admit he has outlived himself. Things have been so bad that a once-in-a-blue-moon performer Nani has been awarded with a five-year contract extension.


But United’s main problem has been their central midfield. Sluggish movements have meant fewer options for making a key pass in vital moments. Lack of pace and indecision in possession has either forced them to pass backwards or have left them bereft of the ball by their opponents. Michael Carrick has endured an injury hit season and even then he has tried his level best to dictate terms in matches he has played. But lack of creativity from his midfield partners – Tom Cleverly, Kagawa or Marouane Fellaini (playing in double pivot or more advanced role) – has hampered Manchester’s overall build up.

This lack of penetration from the midfield has forced Wayne Rooney to drop deeper and deeper. He is always very enthusiastic and likes to get involved in the build-up. But for his and more importantly team’s benefit, he should have been playing upfront just behind the striker – not in a tranquilista role. Just glance at his overall action areas in the home loss against Everton on 4th December, 2013 and you will know how much out of position he had to play.


But amidst all this, one thing has stood out – Moyes has very good game reading sense. His strategic alterations – mainly during the interval or even during normal playing time – have injected life into Manchester’s play. Take for example the game against Swansea on 11th January, 2014 at Old Trafford. United looked clueless, lacked energy and were going nowhere in the first half. Moyes pushed Shinji Kagawa in a more central role and asked Januzaj to take on the opponent Right Back, who was already on a yellow card. This tactical switch turned the game in United’s favour. But how one wishes – and not only for this match during the season – that United could have started like that!

In his defence, Moyes can rightly point out that Manchester has been hit hard by injuries to key players, especially their highest scorer last season Robin van Persie. His partnership with Rooney upfront was lethal last year but they could play together only nine times this time round – and RVP was in the field for a mere 33 minutes on one of those occasions. It is no surprise that United has drawn only two and lost none out of those eight (excluding the curtailed appearance of RVP against West Bromwich Albion) matches. Without them? Moyes has been frustrated as United have laboured to only 20 points out of the remaining 15 games.


As Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. And how harshly David Moyes is realising the truth! Could he have done something different? Could he have tried a false 9 featuring both Kagawa and Rooney up front? This would have been a viable proposition in the absence of RVP and especially considering the lack of creativity United have suffered at the central areas. But Moyes is not known for being too adventurous and, as we all know, it is easier said than done.

Things did not look too promising even from the outset. The disastrous summer transfer season saw Manchester come close to signing quite a few players but inexplicably failed to land any major stars. Their only signing was Fellaini, but United definitely needed more than that. While the champions stagnated, their opponents became stronger with the influx of new blood and the results are there for everyone to see. Now with the addition of the midfield maestro Juan Mata, Manchester United are looking to get things back on track. But it is too little too late for at least this season.

English Premier League 2013-14: Season Preview

EPL 2013-14 season is all set to roll. The top three clubs from last season are starting with a new coach. Debojyoti Chakraborty takes a sneak peek and explores the possibilities

Any EPL preview this season would bring David Moyes in the limelight. Essentially for two reasons: the man he is replacing and that his future will pave the way to determining how young and aspiring British managers are to be promoted in the coming years.

Not everyone is expecting him to deliver right away and the cynics would be boosted by his lacklustre performance (statements) during the ongoing transfer window. Moyes has a couple of problems already with the ongoing Wayne Rooney saga and lack of quality wingers leading the chart. He has a six-year contract and one would assume the men in charge in The Red Devils‘ camp would give him a fair go. It would be interesting to see whether Moyes retains United’s wing play in a 4-4-2 style or uses his own more direct attack-through-outlets style of 4-4-1-1. That said, the Old Trafford faithful would still like to see another success. But they might have to settle for a podium finish, in more realistic terms.


The Special One returns as The Happy One. He has a settled squad, with a plethora of talent at his disposal, especially in the attacking midfield option. The man credited with the advancement of the 4-2-3-1 system, will however have to decide whether to start with the misfiring Fernando Torres or the misfit Demba Ba, or groom Romelu Lukaku should he fail to bring in any marquee striker before the transfer window closes. This season could be the most competitive of them all at the top of the table, and José Mourinho’s been-there-done-that experience might just win him the race.

Manuel Pellegrini is the latest occupant of the revolving chair of hot seats at Manchester City. He is not as collaborated as his predecessor – but for a season at the Santiago Bernabéu – but brings with him a brand of football that made Malaga a European darling last year. A tactical genius; be rest assured to see him experiment a lot with tinkering formations, even through the course of a match. Pellegrini would dearly like to take a dig at his old friend who replaced him at Real Madrid.

Gareth Bale’s supposed valuation of £100 mn has irked quite a few, pointing out how it has made a mockery of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. Things can go down to the wire and it seems more and more likely that Bale would be staying at White Hart Lane. With the added steel of Paulinho in the midfield and a clinical finisher in the form of Roberto Soldado, André Villas-Boas would have every reason to believe Tottenham Hotspurs can definitely finish in the top four.

The old story continues at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger does not feel the price tags associated with his potential targets are justified. While clubs finishing above and below Arsenal have been strengthened, Arsenal have been in a state of self-denial. The likes of Gonzalo Higuaín are captured by Napoli and others amidst The Gunners’ speculation. It is very much likely that the pride or self-satisfaction of finishing in the top four will no longer be there, come end of the season.

The Swans are flying high and there seems to be no stopping them. With the acquisition of a proven frontman, Wilfried Bony from Eredivisie and retaining all their core players, Swansea look set for another fine season. Michael Laudrup has added depth to the squad considering they would have extra games to take care of in Europe. And their European participation seems set to continue.

Newcastle’s fifth-place finish in the year before raised the expectations last season and that is why their lowly standing surprised many. People will be wrong again to bank on their past showing and underestimate them. While they did remarkably well in the Europa League – taking out Guus Hiddink’s expensive Anzhi Makhachkala en route – the extra games cost Newcastle dearly. Lesser games this time and a mouth-watering strike force up front in the form of Papiss Cisse, Loic Remy and Bafetimbi Gomis could propel them to another European crack.

The European aspirations can take a back seat as The Toffees look to enter a new era under Roberto Martínez. Martínez likes to experiment with tactics and strategy and we may see quite a few new things tried out at Everton with 3-4-3 being the obvious. A very capable custodian, he should aim for a top half finish as opposed to the survival scrap he was so used to at Wigan.

Liverpool could not have expected a worse start to their campaign. And they are yet to play their first competitive game this season. Want-away striker Luiz Suarez seems their only hope of climbing up the chart, and this is not a good omen for them. A mid-table finish looms large, but a bottom-half standing would be a disaster.

Southampton are perhaps the best team in the league to deploy a 4-2-3-1 counter-attacking system in place with perfection. They would like to consolidate their grand entry to the Premier League last season and hang on to a top 10 finish.

Norwich City will also push hard for a top of the table finish after acquiring two new strikers – Gary Hooper from Celtic and Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon. With an already solid defence, they might just upset a few bigger clubs this time round. But if they do well, Norwich might actually lose at least one of the new strikers in the winter transfer window.

West Ham, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are perfect mediocre sides. They never look like relegation candidates; no one has ever accused them of hunting like champions. They appear to be content at the relaxing mid-table life.

Aston Villa are too much dependent on Christian Benteke. They would do well to avoid a lower mid-table finish.

Sunderland and Stoke are running a risk this season and may find themselves again in the relegation dogfight.

Cardiff City marks their debut in the Premier League after a 51-year absence from the topflight of English football. They should enjoy whilst it lasts.

Crystal Palace is yet to survive a season in the topflight. That too after having a record 49 points in a season (1992-93) and having three teams below them in another (1994-95), when the top division was trimmed down to 20 clubs. Not something to draw inspiration from.

Hull City will fight for sure, after all they are a Steve Bruce side. But that may not be enough.

Among other things, this will be a landmark season in English football as Hawk-Eye will be used as goal-line technology. Let us hope it helps in better decision-making without slowing down the beautiful game too much.

Before I depart, a few words about a true romantic hero who has lived the ragged-to-riches story on the footballing ground. Rickie Lambert neither had the glamour of a Michael Owen, nor was he earmarked for great success like that of a Wayne Rooney. But boy, has he put in the hard hours! Rising through the ranks of lower division football leagues for 12 years, sometimes playing in front of empty stands (if there were any), he netted 15 goals in EPL last season to become the top-scoring Englishman. To round off his Cinderellesque story, earlier this month Lambert got called into Roy Hodgson’s squad, interestingly on the same day his wife gave birth to their third child, and went on to mark his England debut with a winning goal in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Scotland at Wembley. Upon being asked what the goal meant to him, Lambert said: “That’s what I’ve been dreaming of probably all my life. It means so much.” We, at Goalden Times, salute his sheer will to succeed. May he continue to rise to the occasion and do football proud.

Paradise Lost in the Blue Side of Mersey

Nine League titles, five FA Cup wins, nine Charity Shields and one European Cup Winners’ Cup

Records that can stand alongside those of the top English football clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. So which club is the proud proclaimer of these grand victories? Well, none other than Everton! To some recent observers of the Premier League, Everton might seem like a hard-working team from Merseyside who finish between sixth and twelfth consistently and has the capability to beat the ‘Big Boys’ on their day. Everton too has been quite a big club, and still is, if you ask me; and to understand what I am saying here, we would need to delve into history. So, let’s flip through the pages of English football history and find out, what stories Everton has to tell us and learn more about its contribution to English football.

 A Religious Foundation

Everton began its journey as St. Domingo’s, named after a local Baptist church which encouraged the youngsters in its parish to play football, once the cricket season got over, so that they could remain fit and healthy. A year later, they adopted the name Everton Football Club, as Everton was the name of the district in Liverpool, where they played their football.

A decade later, with football growing ever popular, they joined forces with other football clubs, like Preston North End, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Accrington (no relation to Accrington Stanley of today), Burnley, Derby County, Notts County and Stoke City to form a football league. The first ever league winners in 1888/89 were Preston North End, though Everton were soon in on the act, winning their first title two years later.

The club originally played at Stanley Park but with increasing interest in the game and more and more supporters thronging in to watch the Blues play, it was decided in 1882 that the club will move to a new home to accommodate more fans to watch the game. They did so, by moving to a piece of land in Priory Road. Today, Liverpool’s Anfield stadium stands in that patch of land.

They continued to ply their trade at Anfield till 1892, when a dispute with the land owner, John Houlding over increased rent, forced them to move out of Anfield and set up another stadium on the other side of Stanley Park. This was to be called Goodison Park, the ground the club continues to play in today.

The remaining players and Houlding decided to form their own club – Liverpool FC. A city-wide rivalry was born and both the clubs continue to play their home games with just a small stretch of green park land separating them.

 Dixie Dean: The Greatest Evertonian?

Dixie Dean moved to Everton from city rivals, Tranmere Rovers in 1925. In the 1927-28 season, he helped Everton secure the League title with an amazing goal-scoring record of 60 goals in 39 matches – a record that still stands today. Surprisingly, Everton were relegated two seasons later but Dixie was back to his best and scored 39 times in 37 games to propel them into the top division again.

Dixie Dean

The Dire 50’s and the Swinging 60’s

Post-war, Everton had some years in the doldrums due to some players leaving. Theo Kelly, the manager was unable to match the standards the club had set before the war and left the club in 1948. Cliff Britton took charge and oversaw a distinctly dire period in Everton’s footballing history. The club was undeniably flirting with relegation for a number of seasons, before the inevitable happened in the 1950/51 season, and the Toffees slipped into the second tier of English football. After spending two seasons in the tier two of English Football, Everton was back among the ‘big boys’ for the 1953-54 season. In 1956, Britton left Everton and Ian Buchan and Johnny Carey temporarily came to the clubs for short stints as managers. Neither of them was unable to turn around the fortunes of the club, and Everton went through a barren patch.

Fortunes of the club changed with the appointment of Harry Catterick as the manager in 1961. Catterick is regarded as one of the best managers in Everton’s history. Everton were crowned League Champions in the 1962-1963 season, with Roy Vernon having considerable impact on the pitch. This led to Everton competing in the European Cup for the first time, during the 1963/64 campaign. Everton also won their third FA Cup in 1966, after defeating Sheffield Wednesday. This win was all the more special, as they had come back from two goals down, to win 3-2. The Toffees (Everton’s nickname) were aiming to win their fourth FA Cup after reaching the final in 1968. However, they faced a strong West Bromwich Albion team, who eventually came away victorious.

Such was Catterick’s ambition, he continued to add to his side with the then British record £110,000 signing of Alan Ball  – who became the corner stone in one of the greatest ever Everton teams.

After assembling a glittering squad consisting of Howard Kendall and Allan Ball, Everton won the league title for the seventh time in 1969-70 season. However, after winning the league, Catterick saw his team stuttering down the table, and with his health deteriorating, Catterick resigned as the manager in 1973.

Howard Catterick

The Glorious 80’s

Billy Bingham took over for a few years, but fourth place was the highest that Everton ever finished in the league under him. Gordon Lee took charge in 1977, and the Toffees performed well, with the team finishing third and fourth in consecutive seasons. The season that followed, almost saw Everton relegated and Lee left Everton in 1981.

Former player, Howard Kendall was appointed after Gordon Lee left Everton. Little did the Blue side of Merseyside know that Kendall will oversee the best period in the club’s history. Kendall had a rocky start at Everton. In fact some supporters were calling for his head when the club made a poor start to the 1983/84 season with the lowest point being a 0-0 draw with Coventry City in December, in front of close to 14,000 fans at Goodison, the majority of whom booed the players from the field. Kendall was on the brink.

A League Cup away tie at Oxford United was the day things turned around for Kendall and Everton. Oxford were a goal up and their defender, Kevin Brock decided to play a back-pass to the goal-keeper, unaware that Adrian Heath was lurking behind him. Heath duly obliged and equalized, saving Kendall’s blushes.

The club never looked back since, and lost only three of the last 21 games and finished seventh in the league and reached both the FA and League Cup finals. The League Cup final finished 0-0 against Mersey rivals Liverpool, though the Reds had the last laugh in the replay.

Thankfully, Everton had another chance for Wembley glory in the May against Graham Taylor’s side, Watford. Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray grabbed a goal in each half to give Everton their fourth FA Cup.

1984-85 Season

Everton began the season with the confidence of a FA Cup win and defeated Liverpool in the charity shield. However, they lost their first two games, which dampened the spirit but with a win away at Chelsea, started a run that saw only one defeat in the next 20 games.

Everton were on a rampage in both the domestic and European front. Three separate consecutive-winning runs of 10, 9 and 7 games – including a win over Liverpool at Anfield and a 5-0 thumping of Manchester United in consecutive weeks – kept an amazing trophy treble well on course.

The first title since 1970 was secured with a 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers and with a late winner by Derek Mountfield, at Villa Park against Luton Town, sent Everton to the FA Cup final in Wembley.

The real drama was happening on the European Front…

The 84/85 Team

Goodison’s Greatest Night

Everton had reached the semi-final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup by overcoming University College Dublin, Inter Bratislava and Fortuna Sittard. They faced Bayern Munich in the last four and after a goalless first leg in Germany, they fell 1-0 down at home.

Such was the noise that day at Goodison that Kendall believed the ball will get sucked in by the sheer noise of the Gwladys Street end. He was not off the mark.

Andy Gray scored a brace to put Everton ahead and Trevor Steven sealed the win to send the Goodison faithful into a delirium. The match is still considered to be the greatest game ever played at the famous old ground.

Everton faced Rapid Vienna in the final and duly dispatched them 3-1 to win their first European trophy. The FA Cup final against Manchester United was a step too far and after a goalless 90 minutes, Norman Whiteside scored in extra-time to win it for the Red Devils.

Howard Kendall


Then and Now

After the Heysel stadium disaster and subsequent ban of English clubs from European competitions, Kendall left Everton as he wanted to test himself in Europe. The subsequent managers failed to inspire any confidence and Everton slumped down the table. Howard Kendall then came back to the club to manage for a second time. He failed to inspire the players, or get the results required to succeed. Realising that he was not the man to take Everton forward, Kendall resigned at the end of 1993.

In 2002, David Moyes was appointed as Everton’s manager and with a meagre budget, he has repeatedly built teams that punch above its weight and has done a great job in keeping Everton in the top flight. Everton is in dire need of investment and the current chairman, Bill Kenwright has failed to attract investors. With such a history, Everton should be attracting significant investments to either improve the old stadium or build a new one, although the latter might prove to be a hindrance.

Everton is a great club and needs revival. It deserves to be among the top clubs in England. With such a passionate support base and such history, Everton should attract investors and revive the club and bring back its glory days. Although, one thing Everton will never lack, is PASSION.


Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson took over the reins as the manager of Manchester United Football Club on November 6, 1986 after the board sacked Ron Atkinson when the team was in the relegation zone. It has been close to 25 years since United had anybody else other then Sir Alex at the helm. A generation of United fans doesn’t know how it feels not to have Sir Alex blasting the living daylights out of referees from the touchline. Ferguson inherited a dispirited team of underachievers who had consistently, to their supporters’ discontent, failed to break Liverpool’s domination.

For the first few years, United didn’t win a trophy under him till 1990, when they tasted success with the FA Cup win. It is said that his job was under serious threat before the third round tie against Nottingham Forrest. Since then, there has been a never-ending supply of glories and trophies with 12 League titles, five FA Cups, two UEFA Champions League, one Club World Cup, one European Cup Winners Cup, one Inter-Continental Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and nine charity shields – in total 32 trophies.

Season after season, United have landed trophies under the great Scotsman; but after him, who? Many believe last season’s league triumph and Champions League final appearance was only possible because Sir Alex was at the helm, as the squad was poor compared to other title winning United squads. The managerial cacophony that took place after Sir Matt Busby stepped down, is etched in the memory of United fans. So, as Sir Alex completes 25 years in charge of United, the next managerial change in United will be crucial for the future of the club and will be one of the toughest decisions that the CEO of Manchester United Football Club would have to take.

It’s said that no one person is bigger than the club. When it comes to players, it holds true. But what if someone’s philosophy and direction defines the club in the modern age? Nothing of importance that happens at Manchester United goes without Ferguson’s knowledge or approval. He is as close to impossible to replace, as any manager could be. Good luck following this act.

Like everybody else, I have a speculative list of three people who I believe has the potential and credibility to take over from Sir Alex, as the manager of United. The following three managers are relatively younger, but experienced enough and successful in their own rights. In my view, the next United manager will be young, as United would certainly opt for a long term successor instead of a stop-gap arrangement, to fill the big boots of Sir Alec.

Jose Mourinho:


José Mário dos Santos Félix Mourinho or simply Jose Mourinho is a name that divides football fans and pundits alike. If anybody has the personality and charisma to take over from Sir Alex, then this is the man. He has worked as an assistant manager and interpreter with legendary English manager, Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto and then at FC Barcelona.  His managerial career started with Benfica, then he moved to Porto, where he won the Champions League, and then his first big move came when he took over at Chelsea from Claudio Ranieri, in 2004. Armed with Roman Abrahamovic’s financial strength, Mourinho built a Chelsea side which won its first league title in 50 years in the 2004/05 season, thus breaking the Manchester United and Arsenal hegemony at the top of English football. He also won the treble with Inter Milan and is currently manages Real Madrid.


He is an ‘attention-to-details’ manager. A Jose Mourinho side cannot be accused of being under-prepared. Invariably all the Mourinho teams are well-drilled with a fantastic backline. He builds his team from the defence and firmly believes in the theory that offence wins you games but defence wins you championships. He is regarded as one of the most tactically sound managers in Europe and studies the opposition team thoroughly. He is known for building personal relationships with his players and so he automatically owns the dressing room and commands fierce loyalty from his players.


Jose Mourinho is widely known for playing winning but pragmatic football which directly goes against the traditions of Manchester United. United is known for playing entertaining and free-flowing football, and the Old Trafford crowd demands not only winning football but easy-to-eye football.

Mourinho is known for playing the pantomime villain, all too well. In some cases it might take the pressure off the players, but on the downside, instead of the players, the manager may enjoy the media spotlight a bit more than what is expected in Old Trafford.


Jose Mourinho is the top contender from taking over from Sir Alex. He has the managerial acumen and the required charisma and personality to fill the big boots of Sir Alex. He shares a fantastic rapport with the great man, and as David Gill has stated that Sir Alex will have a huge role to play on his succesor’s choice, so Mourinho is one of the, if not the front runner for the post. Will he be ready to commit his long term future to Manchester United, build another dynasty and play the kind of football the Old Trafford demands every time the successors of the ‘Busby Babes’ take the field? 

Josep Guardiola:


Pep Guardiola enjoyed a stellar playing career with FC Barcelona with 263 appearances and won numerous trophies, including the European Cup in 1991-92 season. He finally left Barcelona in 2001.

His rise to become one of the most coveted managerial talents is nothing short of astounding. He was appointed as the coach of FC Barcelona B team at the start of the 2007-08 season. Under his guidance, the team subsequently won Tercera Division and qualified for the 2008 Segunda Division Playoffs, which the team won and was promoted. He replaced Frank Riijkard as the manager of Barca at the end of the 2007-08 season.

Before the start of the 2008-09 season, he made some sweeping changes to the Barca side by off-loading starts like Ronaldinho and Deco and brought in fresh players like Dani Alves, Seydou Keita and Gerard Pique. In his first season with the Catalan giants, the young manager won an unprecedented six trophies, an astonishing achievement for such a young manager. He is also the youngest manager to win the UEFA Champions League and he won it TWICE, in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. He has already won three back-to-back La Liga titles. Now that’s an outstanding record for a young manager.


Under Guardiola, Barcelona has developed and mastered a mesmerising passing game that sometimes leaves their opponents chasing shadows in the midfield. His players are so adept in keeping the ball to their feet that the opponents are just left with no choice but to withstand all the pressure and hope to hit them back with a quick counter-attack. Another feature of Guardiola’s Barca team is the pressing game that they play, which rarely allows the opponents to settle down with the ball. The football that Barca plays is beautiful to see but extremely hard to execute and physically demanding on the players, so Pep’s players are extremely fit and he rarely rotates his team, barring injuries. Although he spent a lot of cash bringing new players to the club, he is ready to give youngsters in the club a shot at the first team, which is quite similar to Sir Alex’s and United’s philosophy of providing the youth a chance.


Josep Guardiola is regarded as one of the most, if not the most coveted young manager in the game but all his successes have been achieved in the familiar surroundings of the Catalan giants. Guardiola has played for Barcelona for a long period of time and then returned as their manager. He knows the club inside out and knows the brand of football that is needed for the La Liga. There arise questions as to how he can adjust his style of play in a different club, in a different league. Only time can answer that.


Josep Guardiola will be a kind of coup for Manchester United if they can acquire him. He is young, has promoted the brand of attacking football that the Old Trafford crowd bays for and will be willing to build one more dynasty. But can he adjust to a different club in a different league?

David Moyes:


 Had I been the CEO of Manchester United, I would not think twice before offering David Moyes to fill up the managerial vacancy, with Sir Alex not around, but unfortunately I AM NOT! David Moyes is one of the finest British managers in the game right now. He is young, tactically alert and a fantastic man manager.

His managerial career started at Preston North End in 1998, taking over from Gary Peters as the club struggled in the Division Two. Preston avoided relegation and qualified for the Division two playoffs, which they lost. The following season, they won the Division Two title and was promoted to Division One and qualified for the playoffs with largely the same squad that won the Division Two title.

Moyes left for Everton to take over from Walter Smith in 2002. If we take Everton’s budget into account then Moyes has achieved miracles with the club, and unearthed and harnessed talents like Wayne Rooney, Leighton Baines, Jack Rodwell, Seamus Coleman and the latest one, Ross Barkley. Everton achieved Champions League qualification in the 2004-05 season, a remarkable achievement for a club with a small budget.


I haven’t seen much of Preston North End but whatever I have seen of Everton in the last 10 years, I can safely say, that a David Moyes team won’t leave anything behind in the field, whatever the result might be. A trip to Goodison Park is always a tough fixture in the League calendar – an Everton team will hurry and hassle the opponent into making mistakes while displaying remarkable team ethic and commitment. They work their socks off on the field. David Moyes is known for making some smart buys and loan moves, as Everton’s budget is very low. This season Everton’s net spend was NEGATIVE, the only top-flight club with a negative net spend. Players like Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta (who left for Arsenal this season), Royston Drenthe and Steven Pienaar were brought to top flight English football by David Moyes. Tactically smart and a fantastic man manager, David Moyes is a special managerial talent.


David Moyes has harnessed his managerial skills at Preston North End and Everton. With no offence to Everton, can Moyes handle the pressure and expectations that come with being the manager of a big club like Manchester United? Over and above, he doesn’t have much experience of playing or managing in Europe, which is tactically a totally different ball game.


If there is one British manager that deserves his chance of managing a top club like Manchester United, then David Moyes is the man. United’s ethos lies in the fact that they try to build the foundation of a team through young players and they put a lot of emphasis on their youth academy. Moyes is known for identifying young players and nurturing them. Wayne Rooney is one of the best examples of a prodigal young player, nurtured by Moyes. He will carry forward the tradition, from Sir Alex, of building a team on young up-starts. He will be keen to build his own legacy at Manchester United and if he achieves success, then United need not worry about another managerial vacancy for a long time. I have discussed the strength of a typical David Moyes team. As opposed to Pep and Mourinho, Moyes doesn’t have the requisite funds but his strength lies in the way he prepares the team, and his penchant for an astute buy.