Just 11 months after signing a six year contract to replace Alex Ferguson, David Moyes has been let go by Manchester United, failing to complete even one season in the job.
Moyes was Ferguson’s choice to succeed him, but from the start the job seemed too big for Fergie’s fellow Scot.
Moyes had built his reputation as an overachiever with Everton, and there was always fear among United watchers that the taciturn manager would wilt under the bright lights of Old Trafford.
Those fears appeared accurate as Moyes became increasingly uncomfortable as the negative results mounted. Even as the club stood behind him, Manchester United began to pile up some ignominious statistics, unfamiliar to United fans in the Premiership era.
Early signs were not good for Moyes when he had trouble attracting big names to Old Trafford during the summer. Everton refused to allow Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini follow their skipper to United, following what the Toffee’s called a derisory offer for the pair.
Fellaini eventually made the move, but the powerful Belgian midfielder was ineffective, then injured. Injuries played a role in United’s early struggles, with star strikers Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney seldom available for selection simultaneously. Ferguson also left Moyes with a team that seemed thin in the midfield and uncertain in defense, despite last season’s EPL title.
But Moyes did himself no favors, often playing Rooney too far from goal, and losing support as his team failed not only to win, but to play the attractive brand of attacking soccer that Manchester United fans around the world have come to expect.
Now United sit in seventh place, guaranteed to finish outside of the top four, and to miss out on the Champions League for the first time in almost 20 years. Their place in the table will match Blackburn Rovers for the biggest fall for a defending champion since 1996.
Even the Europa League, Europe’s second tier competition, now looks beyond the Red Devils reach, as this humiliating season winds down.
Embarrassing recent home losses to old rivals Liverpool and “noisy neighbors” Manchester City put Moyes on shaky ground, but the Glazer family, Manchester United’s American owners, finally had seen enough after Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Everton eliminated United from the Champions League spots.
Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs will take temporary charge of the team, while a full time manager is pursued, with Dutchman Louis van Gaal said to be the early favorite for the job. Charismatic Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp is also said to be in the running.
As for Van Gaal, he will be available after this summer’s World Cup, where he will lead the Netherlands into Brazil. With stints at Ajax, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich on his resume, the Dutchman would seem well prepared for the job, and unlikely to be overawed.
Manchester United released a brief statement that said, “The club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he (Moyes) brought to the role.”
Unfortunately for all concerned those qualities failed to bring the desired results, and with United expected to spend up to $250 million in this summer’s transfer window to repair their team, van Gaal, Jurgen Klopp, or whoever is hired, will have plenty of backing.
United need to get it right this time, and so too will the new manager, who unlike David Moyes, can take some comfort in knowing that he will be replacing a man, not a legend.