David Moyes believes Arsenal’s flying start to the Premier League campaign underlines the value of managerial longevity.
In a summer of dramatic change at three of England’s four Champions League contenders, Arsenal remained an oasis of stability.
Although they had completed eight seasons without a trophy, there was never any question of the Gunners’ hierarchy ditching their boss of 17 years.
The decision has reaped its reward in Arsenal charging five points clear at the top of the table, and eight ahead of Manchester United ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Old Trafford.
It may be a surprise to some. Not to Moyes.
“People who really know the game did mention Arsenal,” said Moyes.
“They’ve got stability. For the first time in a long time, a lot of the other sides have changed their manager.
“I felt Arsenal would have an opportunity because they are not having those changes. The manager knew all the players and was used to working with them.
“Arsenal have always been a good team, so it should not be a big surprise they have started the season so well.
“It just shows it is the right way for clubs to go in the long term.
“I do believe that the way to get success is to stick with your manager and give them a lengthy period in the job.”
Moyes benefited from the same stability at Everton, which was one of the reasons why United were so attracted to him when Sir Alex Ferguson opted to stand down after 26 years at the helm.
It has not been the easiest of transitions though.
And after collecting just one point from those three tough early-season games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, victory is crucial in order to dispel doubts amongst some fans over Moyes’ ability to fashion positive results against top teams, so essential to United’s chances of success.
“When you’re a new manager coming to Manchester United you’d say it was a tough set of fixtures,” he said.
“It would have been a difficult gig for anyone.
“But I’ve enjoyed the short period that I’ve been here and the players are used to hard games.”
Given United boast an unbeaten home record against Arsenal that stretches back to 2006, Moyes can clearly call on a number of men who have positive experiences of the two clubs’ meetings.
Wayne Rooney is an obvious example, having launched his career against the Gunners with his wonder goal for Everton in 2002.
Moyes was in charge of the Toffeemen that day, and he also led Preston to the brink of a shock FA Cup win over Wenger in 1999 when the Lancashire outfit established a two-goal lead before Arsenal swept back and scored four times without reply.
“In your career there are always moments that can help you and that one possibly did,” said Moyes.
“That game brought me to the attention of a lot of people. It was on Sky and a lot of people were watching it.”
The prize for United is obvious.
Though they remain in a lowly eighth position, after eight matches unbeaten in all competitions, they are within striking distance of their rivals, with the gap to Arsenal being cut to five points with a victory.
Conversely, an 11-point advantage is on offer for Arsenal, although Moyes does not feel even that would rule United out of contention.
“We’re going to try and make sure it isn’t the situation but if it is we need to make sure we get it back,” said Moyes.
“There is an awful lot of football to be played.
“The league is starting to settle itself down.
“Arsenal are rightly getting good plaudits for how they are playing and obviously they have had a couple of really good results in the Champions League.
“But you have to play everybody twice. That is when you decide who are the champions and who aren’t.”
United will be without Danny Welbeck, who is sidelined with a knee injury.
Moyes does have the remainder of his squad available though and has received a further boost after Darren Fletcher completed the first 90-minute outing of his comeback from a chronic bowel complaint in Friday afternoon’s 1-0 defeat to Stoke in an Under-21 match at the Aon Training Complex.