John Walton/EMPICS Sport David Moyes: no major signings for the new boss yet.
# moyesiah
Premier League preview: Manchester United
David Moyes is scrambling to recruit reinforcements as he looks to step out of Alex’s Ferguson’s shadow.

Guardian writers’ predicted position: 3rd (NB: this is not necessarily Jamie Jackson’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)
Last season’s position: 1st
Odds to win the league (via Oddschecker): 13-5
David Moyes now knows that being the Manchester United manager is a thorny mix of football-man, troubleshooter and PR guru who has to prosecute these duties before the relentless glare of the 24/7 football media.
The Scot was proud to be made Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor but a helter-skelter first summer in charge was surely not in the brochure. Moyes walked into a club whose squad is in transition despite last season’s 20th league title and who in Wayne Rooney harbour a player whose future remains a ticking time-bomb that is defining the manager’s start before a competitive ball is kicked. David Gill, Ferguson’s closest ally and a time-served operator in the transfer market, also stepped down in May to be replaced by Ed Woodward, a relative novice who has embarked on a steep learning curve as he tries to execute the new manager’s wishes.
The Rooney situation is a mess. While this is not Moyes’s doing he is the man tasked with cleaning it up. Ferguson’s statement that the Liverpudlian made an official transfer request towards the end of last season was a hospital-pass lobbed at Moyes just as he began grappling with one of the world’s biggest clubs. Since Ferguson made the claim in early May, the farrago has descended beyond the point where it could be addressed by United, admitting what they accept privately: that Rooney never made any demand to depart during the meeting with the 71-year-old in the former manager’s office. No public statement confirming this has been forthcoming because of the difficulties for United in questioning Ferguson, British football’s most successful manager.
But his ongoing presence at United as a director and kingmaker – he drove Moyes’s appointment – remains a defining reason why Rooney wants to leave. Whether he actually will or not is the question that plagued Moyes on United’s three-week pre-season tour of Asia and Australia and continues to do so.
Moyes has said there is no rift between him and Rooney but, while the saga drags on into its umpteenth week, the other glaring issue that could prove as damaging for United’s championship defence as the striker leaving is when – or even if – Moyes will strengthen his squad.
So far his recruitment drive has started and ended with Guillermo Varela, a 20-year-old full-back who is a fringe player at best, as Moyes’s quest to land one or more major signings continues.
The Scot had an initial £12m bid for Everton’s Leighton Baines rejected and is considering a further one, alongside an offer for the left-back’s club colleague, Marouane Fellaini. But it is the failure to land Cesc Fábregas, Moyes’s number one target, from Barcelona that represents the biggest blow.
These difficulties are proving tricky for the inexperienced Woodward, the new executive vice-president. Moyes made a quantum leap in management from Everton to United but he can draw on 11 years experience of transfers accumulated at Goodison Park. Woodward, the English envoy of United’s American owners, the Glazers, had never moved in the market until Gill stepped down.
“We’re getting closer to signings,” Moyes says, though he admits time presses. “We’re moving forward but the deadline is getting closer as well. Hopefully we are. If we don’t [recruit] I’m happy to go with what we’ve got. We had a lot of young English players [against Wigan in the Community Shield]. We gave them the opportunity. It’s always something that gets mentioned, giving young British players a chance, and there’s quite a lot doing that at Manchester United.”
Beyond these responsibilities Woodward’s mission is to bring a glitzy Stateside dimension to a post-Ferguson United. The Scot who stuffed the Old Trafford trophy cabinet with 13 Premier League titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups, four League Cups, a Cup-Winners’ Cup and World Club Cup accrued sufficient collateral for the Glazers to allow him to define media policy. Ferguson’s modus operandi consisted of him and all at United being on-message as wary of anyone with a notebook or microphone despite football’s age of rolling news.
Moyes is allowed no such leeway. While he remains the ‘boss’, Woodward is the Glazer’s PT Barnum, the showman charged with driving the new Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Sina Weibo and Renren accounts (these last two entries into the lucrative Chinese market) as United 2.0 embraces social media and the holy grail of commercial saturation.
This pilgrimage has so far taken in 34 ‘partners’ who include Yanmar, the official diesel engine partner, Mister Potato (official savoury snack), TM (official integrated telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Malaysia), and Kansai Paint (the official paint partner).
Now, with the window closing on 2 September, Moyes still assesses the same squad he inherited while rivals strengthen. José Mourinho continues to believe Rooney will be added to a Chelsea squad already bolstered by André Schürrle, Kevin de Bruyne and Marco van Ginkel and favourite to wrest the championship from United. Across town Manchester City enjoy a serene close season – the sacking of Roberto Mancini for Manuel Pellegrini ridding the club of the internal strife that plagued City until the Italian’s removal, following May’s FA Cup final defeat by Wigan.
While the United congregation wake each day hoping to receive a positive transfer bulletin, City’s spend stands at £88.5m, with Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Jesús Navas all recruited and Pellegrini hopeful of landing a central defender, who would represent a fifth major signing. So, as the current squad stands, the prospects of United defending the title appear in the balance, at best.
Bullishly Moyes says: “This is the squad that finished 11 points clear at the top of the league last season, so I am confident in the squad. But even without additions this squad will be tough opponents for any team – they will be looking at Manchester United. We know we will be challenged by everybody, every game we play.”
Before him and United are an opening run of games that starts at Swansea City on Saturday evening, before Chelsea (home), Liverpool (away), Crystal Palace (home) and Manchester City (away) are met. If the team emerge from these unbeaten, the ambitions of Moyes – and the club – will be enhanced in his inaugural season.
He adds: “I just cannot wait to get the season started.” The Scot will hope his enthusiasm is infectious, as the players – and cognoscenti – wonder if he can start to emulate the Fergie Factor that won United so many games and trophies.

Player focus infographic

This article titled “Premier League preview No11: Manchester United” was written by Jamie Jackson, for

© Guardian News & Media Limited 2014

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.