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Moyes? Surely you got the wrong guy

If history is anything to go by, the new coach of Manchester United has two clear disadvantages - his age and his lack of winning experience

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 4:10pm

David Moyes has many admirable qualities but in two key respects he is not the right appointment to succeed Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. He is too old at the age of 50 and he lacks winning experience at the highest level - both crucial sections of the curriculum vitae that any club should give particular attention if they want to compete for the big trophies.

Much has been made of the similarities between Moyes and Ferguson, both of whom were born in Glasgow, played for the big firms of Celtic and Rangers respectively and started in management with unfashionable clubs at a relatively young age.

But there are striking differences between them, too. Ferguson was six years younger than Moyes when he took charge at United in 1986 and he arrived with an impressive list of trophies: three Scottish league titles (breaking the stranglehold of Rangers and Celtic), four Scottish FA Cup Cups, the Uefa Cup Winners' Cup and the Uefa Super Cup.

That made Ferguson a perfect appointment by United, as time would tell despite his often difficult early years. Moyes, by contrast, has a lot of catching up to do and history suggests United have taken a risk by choosing him.

Let's consider the age factor first. While Ferguson himself might appear to prove that an older head is vital, most top managers establish themselves in their 40s and then go on from there.

Every one of the six managers who have won the Premier League were in their 40s when they were appointed by their winning club, even if they were older at the time of their success. In fact, going back to the first English double winners of the modern era - Arsenal in 1970-71 - only two league-winning managers were 50 or older at the time of their appointment.

Those two were Bob Paisley (aged 55 when he was appointed) and Joe Fagan (62), who came out of the famous Liverpool boot room to build upon the success started by Bill Shankly (who was 46 when he took charge at Anfield).

The FA Cup, and to a lesser extent the League Cup, shows a similar pattern. Only three FA Cup-winning managers since 1971 were aged 50 or older at the time of their appointment.

More importantly, especially for a club with United's ambition, the same is true of the Champions League. Since the competition was rebranded in 1993, only two winning managers were aged 50 or older at the time of their appointment and the vast majority were 45 or younger.

The architects of Barcelona's recent success, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola, were appointed at the ages of 40 and 37 respectively, but that is a blueprint United appear to have rejected.

If the manager of a top club doesn't have youth on his side, history suggests he must have major trophy-winning experience. The six Premier League-winning managers, for instance, had all won a major domestic league title elsewhere or a European trophy, and often both, before conquering England.

And only three of the last 12 Champions Leagues have been won by managers who hadn't lifted the trophy before either as a coach or a player. Those three winning managers, however, all fitted the profile of a young, up-and-coming coach and two of them - Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez - had already won the Uefa Cup as a manager.

Moyes, then, has a lot to prove after an 11-year stint at Everton that was commendable in many ways but did not bring any trophies to Goodison Park. Perhaps in the modern era, with so much power in such few hands, it is unrealistic to expect a manager outside England's big six to win trophies and United appear to be backing their judgment that Moyes just hasn't had the opportunities they can provide.

A six-year contract is a statement of faith in Moyes but, with such a late starter at the top level, it is also laced with risk.

This article was updated to display the original print headline.

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