“I’m sorry. It’s just not working out. I have been thinking about this for quite some time and it is better we go our separate ways”. “Oh please no. I can change. I really can. Everyone experience tough periods at some stage. After all hasn’t some of the longest partnerships survive their ups and downs?” “I have made my decision. Your bumbling has annoyed everyone and created bad taste. Please leave”.
Let’s face it. Break-ups are never an easy thing. No matter how the decision came about, neither party comes out particularly well. The dumped has a loser tag placed on them, even if it came about through events outside of their control. The Dumpee (is that a word?) is criticised for being too harsh and rash. The whole sorry mess becomes a dark, hushed-up phase in both parties history. When both align in each other’s path, it can be an awkward experience. You always hope that you are at your best to show that things are behind you and moved on. Dressed up to the nines and in a celebratory mood. Rather than some unfortunate moment where you step to the shops without having a shower and in a t-shirt containing stains.
Whomever was to step into the hot-seat at Old Trafford, following the reign of Alex Ferguson, was going to have it tough. It was always going to a period of adjustment and transition. None of us fans expected that it would go quite so badly however. The warning signs were there from the start. Having the unfortunate title of ‘The Chosen One’ thrust upon him, following an ill-advised quote in an interview following his appointment, heightened the pressure on him. Players that were signed under Sir. Alex, or developed under his reign, were divided. Some welcomed the loosening of the iron-clad grip he cast over the club and their career. Others felt disillusioned by the new man. Potential new signings were puzzled about who he was and henceforth decided not to join.
Records fell in remarkable sequences. Clubs who would never contemplate the idea of scoring against us, were suddenly arriving at Old Trafford and winning. Moyes had developed Everton as a bright and forward-looking club under his spell, but he seemed lost at sea. The team continued with using the same game-plan, even when it wasn’t working. He was known for building solidity but opponents such as Liverpool and Manchester City revelled in the room afforded to them.
Progression in Europe was achieved until a quarter-final defeat in Munich and young players were given a chance. His supporters will always bring that up. All of which is true and to be admired. Woeful defeats in domestic competitions, hammering by title rivals, and our worse ever premier league position were damning factors. Ironically, Everton sealed his fate, following a mauling at Goodison Park. The nature of how the sacking was revealed, and the lack of time afforded to him, left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. Certainly those in charge handled the matter poorly.
Moyes moved on to Real Sociedad to re-build his career. He helped steady the team and they rose up the table ending in a respectable mid-table position. They also managed to continue their hoodoo over Barcelona by beating them 1-0 at home. A difficult start to the following season saw him lose his job just short of a year after taking charge.
Managers trot out the line of taking some time out to spend time with family and he was just the same. Links to various clubs came and went. Whether he actually applied for them, and failed to get them, is another story. Sunderland were in the annual search of a manager due to Sam Allardyce becoming England manager. A side desperately short on confidence and playing staff, despite yet another last-ditch escape from relegation. Funds were an issue and he did his best in terms of wheeling and dealing with what he had. He reached out to players he had worked with previously. Paddy McNair and Donald Love joined for £5.5 Million, whilst Adnan Januzaj joined on loan.
So what are the state of both parties going into this encounter? After struggling at the beginning of the season, the Mackems have picked up vital wins in recent weeks. Defoe and Anchiebe have provided craft and power up front, whilst Denayer has been generally solid at the back. His early season warnings about the club being caught in another relegation fight was blamed for being over pessimistic. There was a touch of realism as well however. They will be travelling in large numbers in relatively high spirits and hopeful of getting another result in their fight against the drop. The home team is a different beast to what it was a few weeks ago. Points were thrown away and opportunities spurned. Performances have been light years better than under Van Gaal and fans are in expectant moods of progression.
The lessons from games such as West Ham, Burnley and Stoke, have been hopefully learned. After successive away wins against sticky opposition it is critical to stamp their superiority on the two festive season games. Lets all hope that potential hangovers will be avoided and the party continues on.