Football

What the successor must do

BRING THE STYLE BACK

The statistics ultimately did Moyes in - 11 league defeats; 23 points below leaders Liverpool; no Champions League qualification for the first time since 1995 - but the abrupt disappearance of the United swagger was equally disconcerting.

Under Alex Ferguson, United were renowned for their dashing football and never-say-die spirit, but under Moyes, they looked like a team without a soul.

REJUVENATE THE DEFENCE

While Moyes' successor will find a cluster of renowned attacking players at his disposal, he will also inherit a defence that has been creaking badly ever since Ferguson retired in May last year.

A new central midfielder remains a key requirement, but the reconstruction of the United back-four is likely to be the principal focus of the anticipated close-season recruitment drive.

ACCOMMODATE ROONEY AND MATA

The No. 10 role that Juan Mata covets is currently the exclusive domain of Wayne Rooney.

Shinji Kagawa, a Ferguson signing who has also failed to find his feet, is another player who prefers to play as a central playmaker, and the new manager's ability to devise a system that successfully accommodates at least two of those players could determine his chances of success.

STOP THE LEAKS

Ferguson famously elected to exert control over the media simply by shutting them out, and stories of changing-room unrest were few and far between during his 26-year tenure.

The code of omerta appeared to disintegrate under Moyes. If his successor is to get the whole club pulling in the same direction, he will need to be able to trust his players to keep their own counsel.

MAKE OLD TRAFFORD A FORTRESS

Whereas opposition teams used to quake at the prospect of a visit to Old Trafford, during Moyes' brief reign a trip to United's ground came to represent an opportunity to pull off a famous upset.

West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Newcastle United all registered long-awaited league wins at Old Trafford, while Swansea City and Sunderland both enjoyed success there in the domestic cups.

Successive 3-0 defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City further dampened the atmosphere and that unfamiliar sense of vulnerability will need to be washed out of the stadium's corridors before United can even think about returning to the summit of the European game. - AFP.