• Sat
  • Aug 2, 2014
  • Updated: 2:38pm
Column
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 9:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 9:14pm

David Moyes wins fragile vote of confidence

United manager buys time with Champions League victory over Olympiakos, but supporters have yet to be convinced

BIO

Peter Simpson is a China-UK based journalist and the SCMP’s former Beijing 2008 Olympics news editor. He has covered major international news and sporting events, most recently the London 2012 Olympics and Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Peter is a Premier League season ticket holder at newly promoted Southampton FC.
 

We, the people, have never enjoyed such indulgence in democracy thanks to the plethora of daily invites to vote on the issues of the hour.

"Should the US and the EU go to war with Russia over the annexing of Crimea?" reads one of the many internet polls minimised on my screen.

"Should Hong Kong follow Singapore in subsidising private kindergartens to make them more affordable for poorer families," canvasses another.

Digital polling booths vie for your every righteous click. You can exercise your vote for or against intervention in South Sudan or if Aaron Kwok Fu-shing should wear his side parting to the left or right.

How the ancient Athenians might gawp in wonder at this feverish 21st century plebiscitary practice! Bunk and bromidic harmless fun such suffrage may be, but do the multi-voting constituents know something we sceptics of such tabloid democratisation don't?

United were 29 points ahead of Liverpool at this stage of last season. Twelve months on they are 14 behind. If Moyes was a political leader, he would be axed with a swing like this
Peter Simpson

Who really knows if "the man" is not watching the count clandestinely in cyberspace, taking the pulses of the demanding masses through banal ballots, and then acting accordingly?

Off the back of this whimsical conceit this desk-bound democrat indulged in a suffrage moment following Manchester United's dismal 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool last weekend.

"Will Moyes be fired?" one poll asked and offered these choices, so voters did not have to work their critical decision-making thought processes too hard:

 

1. Yes, after the match against Olympiakos

 

2. Yes, after the [forthcoming] matches against West Ham or Manchester City

 

3. Yes, later in the season

 

4. Yes, but not until next season

 

5. No, he'll get things figured out

Choice "5" received our vote for the pure novelty of flying in the face of popular opinion.

Most non-United fans would stick a large X across boxes 1-4 and likely refresh their screen page multiple times to rig the ballot.

Agreed, there is smug satisfaction to be had witnessing United fans finally experience the suffering most of us have endured over the past 20 years of EPL football.

The limp, humiliating defeat to their bitter rivals proved the tide is turning in the northwest and underscored just how far the deflated champions have nosedived under Moyes' turbulent piloting. United were 29 points ahead of Liverpool at this stage of last season. Twelve months on they are 14 behind.

If Moyes was a political leader, he would be axed with a swing like this.

Paradoxically, the humiliation brought out the vocal best in what is usually a library quiet Old Trafford crowd.

The faithful in the Stretford End voted with their voices and sung their support for 10 minutes during and after Luis Suarez's last hammer blow, reminding the visitors just who still hold the most crowns.

Wednesday night's pulsating deficit overturn against Olympiakos also saw the fans clamour around their club, if not their liege. Such loyalty was borne out of fear and relief rather than confidence, but it has bought Moyes time. The official line is that he will face no immediate danger because the club's plans are long term rather than jerk both knees in times of crisis.

Defeats to West Ham on the road today and against Manchester City at home on Tuesday will change that, however.

And worryingly, not all United fans are offering vocal support for Moyes. On social networking sites, talk radio and fan forums the groundswell of opinion against him continues to grow; mediocre Olympiakos are not Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

Even the more rational are beginning to tire of United's insipid football and a manager who rarely seems to say or do anything to inspire confidence in his ability to reverse a downward trend.

We certainly cannot trust the whimsical internet polls, so what better sampling than to ask the opinion of United's far flung fans, those who make the club the global institution it is.

How would, say, most members of Hong Kong's Manchester United Supporters Club (MUSC) vote - "Yes" to rid of Moyes, or "No" to stay the course?

"You are very accurate in pointing out there is a split among United supporters on whether Moyes should stay," MUSC spokesman Nigel Lee said on behalf of members.

"Those who argue that Moyes should be given more time would say it took Ferguson four years to win his first trophy, while those against Moyes say he has taken over a very different United than Ferguson [a title-winning squad]," he said.

"Despite the poor form, United has never sacked managers as frequently as the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City, and should not start acting like them."

Ferguson's farewell plea to the United fans far and wide to support the new manager still rings in the ears of supporters in Hong Kong, said Lee.

"Any rational United supporter will concede this season is one to forget and the hopes of qualifying for the Champions League or even the Europa League are slim. This should, however, not be considered to be the end of the world," he said.

"Having said that, Moyes must turn things around quick and time is not on his side."

Ready your mouse and prepare to cast your democratic click. Time to vote again - in four days.

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