Soccer

Your! Call: How will United's players respond to Moyes?

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Shane McNeil, TSN.ca Staff
5/11/2013 2:56:34 PM
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With the curtain about to drop on the Sir Alex Ferguson era in Manchester, the Red Devils find themselves in unprecedented territory.

For the first time in over a quarter-century, United finds itself tasked with adapting to a new man in charge.

With Thursday's announcement that David Moyes would be taking charge of the club after the 2012-13 campaign wraps up next Sunday, speculation immediately turned to how he would put his stamp on the reigning Premier League champs.

One of Ferguson's strengths over his tenure atop United was his ability to exploit the line-up he thought best to attack the opposition with the assets available to him. United's ability to draw top-tier talent from the transfer market is not likely to diminish, so the team's success under Moyes could well come down to asset management.

What assets are at the former Everton man's disposal is still yet to be decided as his hiring was immediately chased by news of player activity.

British tabloids have been pointing Wayne Rooney towards the exits for some time, a matter further tempered by Ferguson's decision to sit the 27-year-old for United's crucial Champions League tilt against Real Madrid.

Rooney and Moyes have a contentious personal history, with the manager having sued Rooney for libel in 2006. But while Rooney claims to have moved past any problems with his former Everton boss, the whispers have been ongoing for months and may take considerable effort to crush.

Compounding the issue is that the whispers are not limited only to outgoing names.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked to a return to Old Trafford, which could provide Moyes with another potent attack weapon alongside the Golden Boot of Robin van Persie.

But the Portuguese dynamo is not the only name rumoured to be coming United's way either, as news of the Moyes hiring immediately triggered whispers of the possible arrival of Everton stalwarts Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini.

But the real question facing United – regardless of what on-pitch changes may come to pass this summer – is whether the team will respond to a new voice from the sidelines.

Will Moyes be able to get his players to buy in to his strategies and decisions in the same manner the Red Devils obeyed the commands of his knighted Scottish predecessor?

When Ferguson took over the managerial job almost 27 years ago, he took charge of a 21st-place club in the former First Division. While he would guide that team all the way up to 11th in his first season and to a second-place finish in his first full year on the job in 1987-88, the team would falter as the 1980s came to a close, finishing 11th and 13th in his third and fourth seasons, respectively.

Moyes – taking control of a champion squad and a team that has finished no worse than third since the inception of the Premier League in 1992-93 – may not be afforded any room for failure as he puts his stamp on the storied club.

United will undoubtedly boast a talented line-up next season, but at the end of the day, there can only be 11 men on the pitch at any given time, and Moyes' ability to sell his players on his game plan will largely dictate how well those who are not chosen to start regularly execute said plans.

Ferguson leaves Old Trafford as Premiership Champion. The challenge facing Moyes is to not only defend that title, but also avenge disappointing exits in both the Champions League and FA Cup competitions.

Will United's players respond to Moyes and enjoy greater success in 2013-14? Or will the team undergo growing pains as it adjusts to its first new manager since 1986?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Ferguson and Moyes (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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