Did academy tampering damage Moyes?

Laurence Griffiths

According to reports, David Moyes' attempts to shake up Manchester United's academy may have done his position more harm than good.

Interesting story from the Manchester Evening News today. According to their man Stuart Mathieson — on whose reliability TBB has no opinion — Moyes was attempting to shift the focus of the academy away from teaching technical ball-skills, towards producing a more physical type of footballer. According to the piece:

Unfortunately it is understood that Moyes effectively tampered with his own job security by attempting to produce a more athletic next generation with less emphasis on ball skills.

A number of the staff working with the younger players were uneasy about the change and a good few entrenched in Fergie's ways of developing the academy players wondered if they would get the call to Moyes' office to discover their P45s on the table.

Mathieson notes the obvious contrast with Alex Ferguson, whose revamping of the United academy was, so the story goes, one of the reasons that the United board never once considered sacking him even when he looked, back at the end of the 80s, to be struggling. (Along with his being a proven winner, having inherited a notoriously hard-drinking dressing rooms, and Mark Robins singlehandedly winning the 1990 FA Cup.)

It's difficult to know quite how important this was in the grand scheme of things. There's always the possibility that these are nothing more than the typical grumbles that emerge from organisation under new management, reframed and invested with new significance in the wake of his sacking. And it would take a special kind of stupid to look at the academy that produced Adnan Januzaj and think 'needs more beefcake'.

But this story ties very neatly into the general tenor of the stories about Moyes and his training methods; that his ideas were dull, that his priorities were retrograde; that he eschewed the more technical side of the game in favour of lots and lots of running and jumping. On balance, it sounds like a bullet dodged.

"What do you make of the small ginger lad, David?"

"Young Scholes? Too small, too weak, too asthmatic. Failed his bleep test. Get him gone."

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