“We’re playing well and it’s not by investing in £30m or £40m players. The team is better this season than last.” – Kevin Mirallas.
It is very early in the season, but being the only team to remain unbeaten after 6 games in the Premier League can give you that confidence. In fact, Mirallas, in the same interview, went on to say that they were confident of finishing in the Top 4 and securing a place in the Champions League next season.
When David Moyes was appointed the manager of Manchester United, a visibly distraught, and close to tears, Bill Kenwright said that it was his and the club’s job to bring in a worthy replacement. After vetting various candidates, they decided on Roberto Martinez as the one to take the club forward.
When Everton announced Roberto Martinez as the manager, predictably the first few reactions were of how he was only good for avoiding relegation, a nod to his time at Wigan. The press were critical of the fact that he’s done nothing to prove that he could handle a relatively bigger team, with Champions League ambition, and that he would undo all the good work that Moyes has done.
At the other end, David Moyes was facing the same reception. Most fans, expecting someone like Jose Mourinho, were sceptical of the club’s choice, citing no Champions League experience and the fact that he has not won any major title. Many were of the opinion that he would not be able to handle the pressure and expectations, besides from there being a huge gulf in class between him and Sir Alex Ferguson.
And after 2 months, it’s interesting to see who has benefited the most.
After 6 games in the Premier League, Everton are the only team to remain unbeaten. Of course, out of the 6, 3 are draws, but those are still valuable points, which, if not good enough for winning the league, are still precious points for claiming the elusive Champions League slot. And more importantly, Martinez has got the team playing a more adventurous game, which is clearly yielding the desired results.
In contrast, David Moyes seems to be struggling to make this Manchester United side impose themselves on the opposition. Of the 6 games they’ve played in the EPL so far, they’ve managed to win only 2, drawing 1 and losing 3. The draw was against Chelsea at home, in what was a very dull and boring draw.
They lost to Liverpool, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion. True, the fixture list may not have been kind on Moyes, but when you are the manager of one of the top clubs in the world, it cannot be used as an excuse. To add insult to injury, they’ve conceded as many goals as they have scored, which again is not how Manchester United operates.
Roberto Martinez, predictably, went to his old club to bring players to reinforce an already good squad. He got as many as 3 players from Wigan Athletic, signing James McCarthy, Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz. But more importantly, he got the loan signings of Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry, who have already become an integral part of the team.
Moyes, on the other hand, was a failure in the transfer window, with only the last minute signing of Marouane Fellaini to show. All season long, they were after different targets, especially Cesc Fabregas, but in the end, Manchester United had to over pay for Fellaini.
With Arsenal pulling off the signing of Mesut Ozil, questions will definitely be asked about why Manchester United could not sign a player of higher quality. He could not convince Leighton Baines to make the move to Manchester either.
For Everton, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley are in scintillating form, with both players proving decisive in the club’s results so far. Barkley, whom Moyes tried to develop by sending him out on loans, has come into his own and Martinez is reaping the fruits. And the way Martinez has set up his team, to play good, attacking football, the players seems to be enjoying themselves.
Moyes has so far not convinced the fans that his selections are what the team needs. He has repeatedly refused to pick Shinji Kagawa, who has proved himself every time he has played. Instead, Moyes seems to be going for the safer option than the adventurous ones, and hoping that either RvP or Rooney come up with the goods.
It may be too early to make any proper judgements on both managers, but early season form suggests that Everton has got the better deal. True, Moyes did bring Everton out of the depths of 16th and 17th place finishes. But over the last couple of years, the team had become stale and have consistently not been able to take away any points from their Top 4 contenders. Both parties needed a change and the rejuvenation can be seen in Everton upon Martinez’s arrival.
Manchester United seems to have got the raw deal here, with Moyes nowhere close to Sir Alex in terms of tactical nous or inspiring his players. The last minute winners are no longer coming, and rival teams are no longer scared of playing against United.
That’s a damning indictment in itself, isn’t it?