Staff turnover leaves team foundation at risk

Posted by Mark Payne

New Manchester United manager David Moyes swept through the Old Trafford door Monday and brought his three closest colleagues with him. Paddy Crerand and the Reds greeted new coaches Chris Woods, Steve Round and Jimmy Lundsden and the new era is underway. It makes total sense for the new boss to bring in his own assistants, but what exactly has been lost with the departures of Mike Phelan, Rene Meulenstein and Eric Steele?

David de Gea's improvement last term was phenomenal and he finished the campaign as many pundits' pick as goalkeeper of the season. However, a great deal of the credit for that must lie at the door of Steele, the outgoing keeper coach.

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Whether or not de Gea can maintain his form in the new campaign remains to be seen. It is worth noting that it would only take three mistakes from de Gea to cost United about six points, and potentially the title. His importance to the team cannot be overstated. It is important that he builds rapport with Woods quickly.

The last two seasons have born witness to a terrific return to form for Rio Ferdinand. In 2010 he looked close to finished, the recurrence of injuries to his back and calf meant he could rarely be relied upon to make two performances in a month.

Ferdinand managed 28 league performances last term and provided the solidity and consistency that had been lacking the previous two campaigns. It seems as though they have finally found a way to manage his aging body and trouble-plagued back. Being plunged into the training schedules of a new set of coaches could undo all the good work that has been done so far.

Nemanja Vidic’s knee remains an ongoing concern. He has been operated on several times in the past few years and, although he made a string of impressive performances in the second half of last season, his consistency has still not completely returned.

Along with Rio and de Gea, Vidic makes up the foundation of the team. With those three working well in unison, United will always stand a chance. If that trident has a weakness though, then so do the aspirations of the club.

The good thing United have done so far is keep quiet. This is in stark contrast to the behaviour of the closest challengers to last year's title. Jose Mourinho sauntered into Stamford Bridge and started talking about dynasties and consistency somewhere in the middle of his sixth hour as Chelsea manager.

Similarly, Manuel Pellegrini addressed the press on his first day and outlined a target of winning the Champions League and at least one trophy a year with Manchester’s second club. He still had fresh food in the fridge in Spain.

Moyes and United have said precisely nothing. People have quietly had their holidays, kept their counsel and drawn up plans for the new season. Moyes' first press conference as United manager will be later this week and it will be interesting to see what he says. However, he doesn't need to make a great speech, he needs to get the foundation of the team right.

Follow Mark on Twitter @markjpayne

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