What started as an honest experiment, to deliver Manchester United back to the peak of world football following their greatest ever spell, turned into a nightmare.
After the inevitable end to David Moyes’s tenure on Tuesday, a look at how far United have fallen exactly one year since clinching their 20th league title would suggest the ‘Moyes experiment’ has only managed to tarnish the reputation of one of the world’s biggest clubs.
Moyes, after over 10 years of solidity at Everton, was handpicked by Sir Alex Ferguson to steer the club through what had already been identified as a turbulent time for United given the stability, and enormous success, achieved under Ferguson.
United wanted to be different, they wanted to nurture a new pool of talent and a new regime rather than seek out a big-money, impulse buy, sadly all too prevalent in today’s game. It backfired.
Moyes was never going to suddenly add to Ferguson’s 38 trophies in 26 years though he arguably deserved more time, said Gary Neville, who spent his entire playing career at United until he retired three years ago.
“I think the whole situation at the club right now is repulsive,” Neville told Sky Sports, angry that United failed to issue a comment on yesterday’s media frenzy about Moyes’ imminent sacking.
“We look at football management and think of it as a world of madness where the average manager gets sacked every 12 months.
“I’ve always felt Manchester United should be different and hold itself up as club that stands against what is happening in the game.
“I think fans are well within their rights [to call for Moyes to go], but I don’t like it when professional people from inside the game come out and suggest the manager should be sacked.”
The reason for the delay in relieving Moyes from his duties was because the club’s majority owner, Malcom Glazer, had to abide by New York Stock Exchange regulations because the Red Devils are listed as a PLC.
In the run-up to the announcement shares in Manchester United, which are now valued at £1.72bn, were down by more than 1.2% yesterday evening, a loss of close to £19million.
The American tycoon today handed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the mandate to dismiss Moyes less than 12 months into his £4million-a-year, six-year contract.
This comes only 348 days since Moyes took over from Ferguson, the Glazer family now clearly of the opinion that continuing with the 50-year-old would risk an extended period outside of the European elite.
It was announced at 8.30 this morning that the Scot had been relieved of his duties at Old Trafford, after a disastrous reign, which has humiliated a club that has been at the forefront of English football.
United’s standing has unravelled under their new manager, who clearly never won the respect of his players and that reflected in a number of shambolic performances against rivals such as Liverpool and Manchester City.
Supporters’ Trust spokesman Sean Bones said: “Supporters have been fantastic to David Moyes and David Moyes has acknowledged it, I think though that it’s a results based industry and so far the results have been very very poor.”
The much maligned owners regard the likelihood of a seventh-place finish as substantially below expectations, despite understanding that Ferguson’s departure would bring on a difficult transition period.
With Moyes leaving it shows that the owners do not wish to entrust him with the £150million war chest available in the summer, believing that under his management United would fail to attract the world-class talent needed to rejuvenate the squad.
Dubbed the ‘Chosen One’, Moyes has failed to live up to expectations with fans questioning every decision from his team selection to his tactics.
The final nail in the coffin was an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to his former club Everton at Goodison Park where Moyes claimed his side played well, despite an abysmal display.
On Moyes’ return to Merseyside he was welcomed by his former club, who are currently fighting for fourth and are looking down on their old manager.
Moyes’ time at the club left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths as Sir Alex’s successor broke a string of embarrassing records.
Sunday’s defeat was their 11th league loss this season – a club record in the Premier League – and United are on course to record their lowest finish since 1990, when Ferguson’s team finished 13th.
The Red Devils also appear destined to fail in qualifying for any sort of European football next season, a six-point gap having opened up behind sixth-placed Tottenham.
Moyes time at the helm has been filled with turbulence on and off the field as senior players have struggled to become accustomed to their new boss’ methods.
This campaign has been bursting with persistent rumours of discontent in the dressing-room: Robin van Persie, Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Danny Welbeck all apparently dissatisfied with the new regime.
Possible long-term replacements for Moyes include Holland coach Louis van Gaal and current player/coach Ryan Giggs, though Borussia Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp is in no mood to leave Germany.
Giggs, with Nicky Butt as his assistant, will take charge until the end of the season. Giggs has served as player-coach under Moyes while Butt has worked with the reserves.
The 62-year-old Van Gaal is reportedly being courted by Tottenham and has had a well-documented desire for a Premier League job but could be persuaded to find a home in Manchester.
Main image courtesy of 90th minute via YouTube, with thanks.