After just 10 months in the job, David Moyes has been sacked from the Manchester United manager role.
The run of events leading to his dismissal give us a great insight into how a manager can make or break a team. Here are six mistakes Moyes made which contributed to the team’s deteriorating performance and to his ultimate demise:
1 Coaches clear-out = Change for the sake of change
David Moyes’s first decision at Old Trafford was to sack respected coaches Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele and replace them with unproven Everton staff, arguably setting in motion the nightmare season he has endured. Moyes fell into the classic trap of new managers, making change for the sake of it and ‘fixing it when it aint broke’. In so doing he created resentment, uncertainty, fear and ill-feeling – all sentiments which are deleterious to team performance.
2 Fellaini signing = Poor recruitment decisions
Moyes spent the summer attempting to boost his squad, and signed Marouane Fellaini after indecision over targets and rejections from Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Leighton Baines and Cesc Fabregas. Felliani turned out to be a disaster for the team. This demonstrated a recruitment process by Moyes which wasn’t fit for purpose, evidenced by his disastrous recruitment decision.
3 Moaning about tough fixtures = Negative attitude creating a self-fulfilling prophecy
When Moyes inherited the team, they had just won the title by 11 points. Instead of celebrating the team’s achievements and reaffirming his decision to accept the role of manager, Moyes marked his first press conference as manager by complaining about the tough fixtures in United’s start to the campaign. This negative predicting of the future created a dispirited team who fulfilled Moyes own negative prophecy. It has long been evidenced in the world of education that teachers’ predictions about students’ achievements, biased by their own prejudices, are powerful enough to actually influence students’ educational outcomes. The same is true of managers and their teams.
4 Robin van Persie = Poor conflict management and resolution
One of the key factors in Moyes’ failure to succeed was the friction between Moyes and Van Persie, despite repeated denials from both parties. As a result, Van Persie has shown little appetite to perform for Moyes. One of the defining characteristics of a good manager is the ability to negotiate and resolve conflict – clearly a skill in short supply in the case of Moyes.
5 Billing Liverpool as favourites = public disloyalty to his team.
When Moyes declared Liverpool as favourites ahead of March’s 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford, he may have been stating the obvious, but his comment understandably angered supporters for handing that billing to the club’s biggest rivals. His comment was tantamount to disrespecting his team and their supporters and showed a flagrant disrespect of their needs. Good managers seek to engage with their stakeholders – not alienate them.
6 Handling of Wilfried Zaha and treatment of Giggs = poor use of human resources
After Man U had shelled out a ‘not insignificant’ £12 million for Wilfried Zaha in January, Moyes confused us all, but most importantly Man U’s supporters, by failing to hand him a chance to impress before loaning him to Cardiff in January. With regard to Giggs, the United veteran has been largely overlooked by Moyes this season, despite impressive performances when selected. Having been promoted to the coaching staff, Giggs has rarely been seen communicating with Moyes. The misuse of the talent, potential and opportunities presented by Zaha and Giggs demonstrate a dismayingly poor use of expensive human resources – and behaviour inappropriate to a manager of Moyes stature.
These insights evidence Moyes as being master of his own downfall, making elementary mistakes that many less able, lower profile and far less well-remunerated junior managers would know better to avoid.
Naturally we would recommend Moyes brush up on his leadership and management skills before considering his next move.
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