How not to appoint a football manager
David Moyes has had a challenging start to his career as Manchester United manager.
January 23rd, 2014
12:30 PM ET

How not to appoint a football manager

For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made.

It's a method Manchester United is currently using to fill a number of roles, such as a relationship manager and staffing manager, with the help of a recruitment website that describes itself as “executive career service for high caliber professionals.”

But the process of appointing a football manager remains rather ad hoc, none more so than in the case of David Moyes, who has had –- as baptisms of fire go - quite a grilling since succeeding Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's biggest clubs.

Already out of the domestic FA Cup, United failed to grasp the chance to reach the League Cup final on Wednesday after a slapdash performance against lowly Sunderland.

More worrying for the 20-time English champions is that Moyes' team have been well off the pace in the Premier League.

Seven losses in 22 games have left United 14 points behind leaders Arsenal, and Sunday’s defeat at Chelsea effectively ruled the defending champions out of the title race.

But United are also six points behind fourth-placed Liverpool -– seven if you factor in the Anfield club’s vastly superior goal difference –- so even qualification for the European Champions League next season could be a push for Moyes’ side unless they win this season’s tournament.

Many reasons have been given for United’s sluggish form –- a mediocre squad bequeathed to him by Ferguson, a summer transfer window strategy that at times bordered on the farcical and the loss of the Old Trafford “fear factor.”

Journalists, fans and other Premier League managers have rallied round Moyes, arguing that, as United did with Ferguson, the Scot should be given time.

They argue that Moyes’ track record at Preston and Everton was one of steady improvement, and that he is the right man for the job.

However, given United's profile, not to mention its wealth - the club is ranked by Forbes as the second richest in the world - was the way Moyes was appointed the most risk-averse process?

United’s communication team failed to respond to CNN’s questions as to whether Moyes was the only manager considered for the job, whether there was ever a formal interview procedure, and if so who conducted it.

Reportedly Jose Mourinho, then Real Madrid coach, was considered, but the Portuguese was seen as likely not to offer United the type of long-term security Ferguson had given United since his appointment in 1986.

“There was unanimous agreement – David Moyes was the man," writes Ferguson in his autobiography of the conversation that he had with the club's owners - the Glazer family - as they discussed who should succeed him.

“David came over to the house to discuss his potential availability,” said Ferguson, before adding further on in his book: “The Glazers liked David. Right away they were impressed by him. The first point they will have noticed is that he a straight-talker.”

Ferguson also mentioned that he knew Moyes’ family: “They have a good family feel about them. I’m not saying that’s a reason to hire someone but you like to see good foundations in someone appointed to such high office.”

At the time of Moyes' appointment, Ferguson outlined why his compatriot got the job, despite not having won a trophy in more than a decade at Everton.

"David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I've admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here," Ferguson said.

"There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club.”

Read: Man Utd drops down football's money league

Don’t forget that when Ferguson was appointed United manager, he had guided Aberdeen to Scottish Premier League success as well as an impressive European Cup Winners’ Cup final win over Real Madrid.

Ed Woodward, who was promoted to the role of club chief executive at the end of last season, also said Moyes had “all the skills needed to build on United’s phenomenal legacy," but clearly the key to the 50-year-old's appointment was Ferguson.

"I am delighted that Sir Alex saw fit to recommend me for the job,” said Moyes when he has named as Ferguson’s replacement.

An incumbent playing such a big part in the appointment is unusual both in business and in football, but according to Tor-Kristian Karlsen - the former chief executive of French club Monaco - it was "natural it turned out that way" at United due to Ferguson's "standing and achievement."

Football is seemingly an industry that doesn’t obey any of the rules that might apply to other businesses. It’s often closed, distrustful of outsiders and even more distrustful of new ideas.

"By choosing Moyes - a manager rather than a head coach - Manchester United is trying to carry on with the management structure that proved successful for them for the past 25 years," added Karlsen.

"But one can argue that Sir Alex was an exception rather than the rule and I'm not convinced that it would be reasonable to think that any one manager could successfully walk right into his shoes.

"Which makes me think that David Moyes finds himself in a very demanding situation in trying to singlehandedly stay on top of a wide range of responsibilities that other title contenders across the Premier League and Europe divide between several roles and people.

"Given the level of pressure, the sky-high expectations and the relentless stress of being solely in charge of the footballing side of one of the biggest clubs in the world, it's no surprise that Moyes has had a difficult start to his United career."

I spoke to one recruitment consultant who said he was interested in helping clubs identify managers and players, but all too often he hit a brick wall of conservatism.

Karlsen, who is now working as a consultant in the football industry, including advising club owners and board on succession planning, argues that the tide is turning.

"There's a clear trend that the best-run clubs in European football are spending a lot more time and energy of understanding the international market for managers than what was previously the case," said Karlsen, speaking more generally about the process of appointing managers, rather than specifically about Moyes.

"In the long term I'm convinced that such a new approach will increase the longevity of the tenure of top-flight managers."

While no appointment can ever be future-proofed, Karlsen insists the risks can be minimized.

"The way I see it, it's the responsibility of the club's executive management to make sure that one is always prepared in the event that your manager leaves for another club - or indeed you feel a change is needed," he said.

"That's why one has to monitor potential managers, just the way one looks at players. Choosing the wrong man could result in dire consequences for the club.

"The skill is obviously to understand what type and profile of a manager/head coach is the right match to a given club, situation and squad, there are so many factors that play in. Especially considering that the movement of football coaches and managers is global."

Meanwhile, United fans will be asking themselves this question: “Is Moyes the best manager for the club for the next 20 years?”

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Deng mading

    David moyes must go, that is how man United will reach the better position in the league. we need to qualified for champion league next season.

    January 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  2. Joanne Williams

    Do you even have any idea how high-level executive positions are typically filled? "For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made." Apparently not.

    January 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  3. David jerry

    David moyes need some time to build the team to his standard he will soon pick up what he needs to do is to add some players to the team that all

    January 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • John Doe

      Moyes NEVER improved in Everton.
      Considering he left and how Everton is now doing amazingly well, it just shows how awful is Moyes.

      February 8, 2014 at 2:33 am | Reply
  4. ahmed kabiru

    I think moyes need a good chance 2 enhanced him self..but i ws soo worried on how man utd are losing matches everyday,, besically moyes need chance i think it may be good for him..i love man utd

    January 25, 2014 at 6:30 am | Reply
  5. Edwin

    Moyes needs to be given time. He has proven himself as a manager. Look at Everton, that's not Martinez's team, its what Moyes had built. ManU has to allow Moyes to build himself a team. This will take time, but for Moyes' sake all we can hope is that it doesn't too long

    January 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Eric

      I think Moyes is not qualify for the job. He stayed 11 years Everton and win nothing. There is no need to give him more time because he has already had his time. If United give him more time it will be a biggest mistake like what Liverpool did in 1990 it cost them up to now.

      February 2, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Reply
      • geraldthadevil

        Tactics not facts sorry.

        February 3, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
    • geraldthadevil

      Well not really yes it is Moyes team but the way they play is Martinez way..,in professional football the players are one half of the equation its the fact is that make the difference all the best players will not guarantee you a trophy or success if they don't play the kind of football that suiuts the talent....at the moment man utd is playing conbfrence football not a premier league wining type of football....we playing like a team facing relegation.

      February 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Reply
    • Taheer

      are u trying to tell me that Everton have a better team then manutd? cos looking that these teams current positions that is exactly what you are saying.

      February 5, 2014 at 8:36 am | Reply
  6. Kahsi

    For a mid table Manager he certainly highly appreciated in Man Utd even after losing so many matches. Apparently Martinez did a better job at Everton than him and have better chance at Champion league next year if they maintain the same consistency until the end.

    February 3, 2014 at 4:11 am | Reply
  7. mugisha uriah

    when you fail interviews you quit the job, so moyes has totally faired with out given any fair mark.

    February 3, 2014 at 7:44 am | Reply
  8. Douglas

    I think Man u players lack confidence more so in the defence leaving the opponent to turn and all so marking.

    February 3, 2014 at 8:57 am | Reply
  9. Douglas

    Moyer's should have work plan where to get points and were to get goals and all so making subsittutes making sure the wings are wingers course there are box strikers.

    February 3, 2014 at 9:14 am | Reply
  10. mogan isaac adrimundu

    moyes need to be given time i know he will put man u in good position thz seacion and next seacion man u will be on track if moyes given time

    February 3, 2014 at 9:48 am | Reply
  11. Douglas

    Moyes should not introduced anew game in manu at this time yet.You see when game turned to old game that's were there problem then in finishing.Douglas from Uganda.

    February 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  12. Nicholas Kyule

    i enjoy Man u losses this days, the pride was too much before this drama started

    February 4, 2014 at 4:29 am | Reply
  13. Sserunjogi Rashid M

    To me as ateam fan moyes needs to take a lecture from sir alex furguson of knowing how to handle the teamplayers of such abig team. Becose we as fans we love our club but now it's like the other teams academy. Sserunjogi Rashid M. Of Uganda.

    February 4, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  14. Kent R. Sailer

    Come on give him a break, after all Man. U. is playing against the referees also, and they have had bad luck. Please the team is old and not on the level of the top 3. The main factor seems to be that the players have no guidance from Moyes and they don't fear him or respect hiim. Mr. Ferguson saw the writting on the wall and knew full well that Man. U. was going nowhere this year or next. Imagine how worst it would be if Rooney had left? Moyes is in over his head and should be replaced, but with who? So he will finish the year and Man. U. will finish 6th.

    February 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  15. Pip

    We keep hearing reasons for Uniteds poor form relating to transfers etc.

    Its rarely mentioned that for a lot of the season, players such as Rooney, RVP, Vidic, Fletcher, Ferdinand etc have been injured

    February 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  16. noel stephan

    you know for me moyes is not the right man for the job I think that mourinho was the right choice for the job as you see moyes spend 11 years at goodison park and he made everton qualify only once for the champion league for me this season I was not expected man united to win trophies but at least to qualify for the champion league to be in the top 4 but as things is going under moyes now it is impossible because moyes tactically is dull he is not able to produce a pleasant style of playing for Manchester united a style of playing that suits a champion for me moyes is destroying manunited confidence he will not last long at old Trafford

    February 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  17. John Mike

    Manu has the best players in the whole world but David Moyes have failed 2 use them in an appropriate way like how Alex used 2 do.let him be consulting Fergie.Mike from Uganda~Ngora.

    February 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  18. Brian Dang

    In modern world with full of economic factors, the concept of "giving more time" is not suitable anymore. Giving more time to David Moyes meant Glazer's family will losing stock'shares, "giving more time" to him also will lead to "run away" phenomenon of current Man United squad.. "Giving more time" also means United will drop further in Ranking Table..that lead to The Club will lost all the income that they suppose to get all these years.. Not only that, "Giving more time" will lead United next year or maybe coming years to play at Europa Cup...hic.. then the Fans all over the world also will give up on their Team...
    It is not the same like in the Past when there was pure football game existed...
    So It is Time to Sack the Man who can lead "the mid-table" team...
    They need someone has qualification as "Special One" or at least has Champion's background...
    Good luck for United n God Bless Us!

    February 6, 2014 at 5:05 am | Reply
  19. William

    This is only Moyes first season in charged. Give him a chance to prove he is the right person. (Rome was not build in a day). He needs to know his players and find out what is missing pieces. At least he is not a foreign coach.

    February 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  20. surendren

    Appointing moyes was the most supreme transfer buy by AF. AF left with the full knowledge MU was on the slide already, without even anyone in MU knew it . Moyes appointment was due to AF arrogance. He had the chance to bag Jose, but he had too much pride to fall on Jose's feet and admit Mourinho was the only man for MU. Pity Moyres, though a good coach but not the type who has the creativity, credentials nor the capability and ability to manage MU. So, i feel its better to keep moyers forever, and i will be very contented to see MU never to rise again. Unlike Liverpool, MU isnt the Phoenix. Man DisUnited. Ashley Young has given them a new name : the RED DIVERS!

    February 9, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  21. BrooklynKid

    Untill now

    February 10, 2014 at 5:10 am | Reply
  22. BrooklynKid

    Until now I'm very surprised why Man U choose him and pass Maurinho or other High class Coach. 2nd why Moyes let all other stuff go? Its very hard for players to adapt new coach and new stuff. to add salt into injury he bring his new formation that United players never plays. United always play 4-4-2 I believe. last he bring fellaini for 27Million and refused to sign Ozil for 33Mil. Now I think is to wait till season is over and let him go, plus a lot players who are old and liabilities to the team. add more defense and extra midfielders. and make sure u keep rooney/RVP/ mata/ januzay/de gea. Premier League is not the same without Man United being on Top. if things goes like this next year then the whole league will loose its taste and its reputation as best league in Europe. The world love United. Send Moyes to Cardiff next year or Swansea.

    February 10, 2014 at 5:26 am | Reply
  23. kiyenze

    let Moyes be given more chance but we need fast result

    February 11, 2014 at 9:09 am | Reply
  24. joe saidi

    "moyes should be given time to build his team"????? huh? seriously!!! what happened to the team that won epl last season?? beats logic Moyes aint the man for the job PERIOD!

    February 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Reply
    • nicky

      the team members are older than last year, besides Moyes is net Sir Alex, different coach has different statage.

      February 17, 2014 at 7:51 am | Reply
  25. chidi Ugwu 4rm Nigeria

    David Moyes,has no vision,d worst manager so far,when he was in everton he did not achieve anything but look out there position now, they re better.even if u give moyes more 10yrs in manu ,that is when manu will go religation.moyes has no plan,so he should be sacked before it get worst.

    February 16, 2014 at 10:03 am | Reply
  26. nicky

    i still trust Moyes,i think Moyes needs time to build his own team, it need 1~2years.

    February 17, 2014 at 7:48 am | Reply
  27. filbert

    Let David Moyes Go and Robert machini takes over manchester united.

    February 18, 2014 at 8:01 am | Reply
  28. Andama kaaka

    I love Man u so much that a loss used 2 pain me more than disagreeing with my girlfriend, bt since the resignation of SAF I have become insulated to defeats imagine by very small clubs, all our records and pride is at stake, moyes is not the man 4 Man u

    February 18, 2014 at 8:55 am | Reply
  29. Justine Tibalinda

    When We say, he should be given time, do you mean Manutd will be like Everton before Martinez then we need to place a manager with skill like Martinez,that wastage of time in football business, Please see Buyern Munich, Mancity,Chelsea,Barcelona,Real Madrid, replacement and advice again is Moyes right choice or source of collapse in Manutd from rich to poor club in earth,

    February 18, 2014 at 10:06 am | Reply
  30. Sthembiso

    Ferguson must come back from retirement like Paul Scholes to rescure the sinking ship

    February 18, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  31. A Richards

    Moyes must stay. Arsenal fan.

    February 26, 2014 at 6:34 am | Reply
  32. Fawzy

    I think it is an adventure to take over on the rein of SAF.Moyes has committed,Guardiola case is similar,but maintaining the club triumphs and expected to continue its long streak track of trophies winning.
    Factors of failure here and success there ,are related to manager charisma ,convincing to players and strongly it depends on manager triumphs at previous club.However,the players felt responsible in an awful of M.U.performance,but the manager is always the victim,and truly amanager of Airland national team said(In life ,there are two certainties ,people to die and manager to get the sack.!).... Fawzy.

    February 27, 2014 at 8:49 am | Reply
  33. TwistInTheTail

    This should be titled: How not to write a football article. When Ferguson was appointed in 1986, Manchester United had not won a title in 20 years (last was in 1966-67). So there was no pressure on Ferguson and he could only improved the team, which he did. Moyes has been appointed at a time United have been on an unbelievable winning streak. As in, there's probably no better to do. He can only maintain standards at best. However, Ferguson didn't win a title in his first six seasons. A couple of second places was all he mustered. Shouldn't Moyes be given the same time? However, if Manchester United fans are the finicky type who only want to be associated with 'winners', I suggest Moyes should leave the club. He's too good for such immaturity.

    March 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Reply

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