Manchester United is struggling. There is no doubt that the behemoth of English soccer has stumbled out of the gate and, despite a decent run right before 2014, still looks miles off of the pace that United typically sets. Tottenham have already fired their manager for less-than-pleasing results and Spurs had actually accrued more points than United at the time! So, as we are now in the midst of the January window where typically any other big club that was circling the drain a few weeks ago would be making big purchases, Moyes and United seem to have taken the stance that they will not be doing any business in January…but, why?
United are currently suffering from a mass of injuries and also have many members of their starting 11 that have slight injuries that they seem to be playing through. This means that Moyes purchasing a lot of players in January to try and act as a boost would end up being a burden when some of the injured players return to the fold. United have already struggled with striker shuffling for several seasons and this type of set-up has always made it seem like many of their attacking players are always moments away from leaving the club. So, in this sense, Moyes sitting on his checkbook for January makes a fair bit of sense.
This strategy also helps Moyes keep his job.
By making it appear like he is constantly having to shuffle the deck and deal with injuries to some of his key assets, Moyes is making it appear like he has United actually achieving the most that they could be expected to achieve! He can turn to the owners and to any detractors and say, “Look, I’m doing the best with what I have and once these players return, we will return to the former status of this club!” Not only does it buy him time with management, but it is entirely possible that it could buy him some time with the fan-base. To be honest, that recent first leg loss to Sunderland would have signed the death-knell for many other managers and the fact that Moyes is still in charge shows that his leash is pretty long…
With all that being said, Moyes does have a deadline for success. Even if he lasts through the season, not getting Manchester into the Champions League (or, at least some type of European competition) will certainly result in his immediate departure of the club. It will also hurt his chances of a future job if Martinez is able to steer Everton to a better spot than United. People will then think that Moyes was not working such fantastic miracles and his stock will plummet.
Although every other club is focused purely on the next fixture, the next practice, or the next team meeting; David Moyes has the last fixture date of the year circled on his personal calendar. He knows that being frugal during January allows him to stay in power for the rest of this campaign, but it may also be his undoing once the final results are in. If I was in power at the Theatre of Dreams, Moyes would need a second leg turnaround against Sunderland to save his job…or else…