Alec Swann - Moyes missed a big trick in Spain

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

I quite like David Moyes.

I appreciate the fact he’s had to work hard to get where he is and that he seems to have a particularly straightforward approach to doing his job.

The mockers who have already condemned his reign at Manchester United to the rubbish tip are just jumping on the populist bandwagon and fail to take into account any kind of context whatsoever.

It’s unfathomable to think that Alex Ferguson wouldn’t have thought long and hard about the identity of his successor and given the resources at his disposal, and if his superiors have a touch of patience, Moyes is more than capable of doing some good work at Old Trafford.

But in the week, he went down a level in my estimation.

United’s 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad in the Champions League wasn’t the best game you’ll ever see, it was pretty drab to be honest, but it did contain one passage of play that mirrored a trend which is all too prevalent in the modern game.

Ashley Young’s actions to win a penalty kick as he collapsed theatrically after barely a touch from a Sociedad defender merely added to the shameful reputation the United midfielder is reinforcing at a rate of knots.

And this is where Moyes comes in.

Earlier in the season, after Young had been booked for a similar act against Crystal Palace in the Premier League, his manager commented that he would be having a word because it was a part of his charge’s game that had to stop.

But on Tuesday he refused to condemn Young’s behaviour when questioned and instead offfered the insipid, and quite frankly pathtic, justification that the shirt had been tugged (barely) and the referee had chosen to give a penalty (obviously).

The opportunity was presented to put a big boot into the whole charade that continues to blight the game and Moyes chose to go down the path that so many of his managerial colleagues have chosen before him.

As the figurehead of one of the biggest clubs in the world, Moyes could’ve set a glowing example by openly criticising Young and stating that his behaviour wouldn’t be accepted at an institution like United.

The authorities, despite having the power and werewithal to act, do nothing to curb this unwanted facet of the sport so the only way it will be wiped out is if those at the coalface do the cleaning.

To ignore is to effectively condone and, sadly, in Spain earlier this week, Moyes did the latter by wittingly choosing the former.