THE abject performances, the lack of transfer activity, the endurance of cup disappointment and Premier League failure. There are many reasons why Manchester United followers had justifiably lost faith in David Moyes.
Now 10 months into a six-year contract, the club’s hierarchy saw fit to grind the axe on ‘The Chosen One’ handpicked by the most decorated manager in the history of British football.
Following in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be a tough challenge for even the most marquee figureheads in the world.
With 26 unforgettable years of unprecedented and sustained success, the fiery Scot was the inspiration of a golden era and quite simply unsackable.
But from day one of just 295 at the helm, Moyes was never going to be treated in the same manner – because of the development of the modern game.
In 2014, a large percentage of owners are foreign and are predominantly driven by a thirst for profit, quick fixes and immediate progress.
With few exceptions (Arsene Wenger being the main outlier), being afforded patience by the boadroom and the opportunity to rebuild for the long-term future is no longer the objective.
In the current climate, the harsh reality remains that no-one is secure in the managerial hotseat or safe from the hotbed of speculation.
Many will argue that relieving managers of their duties less than a year with the feet under the table is not “the Manchester United way”.
In this day and age, no club – regardless of a history steeped in tradition – has their own way and no man is bigger than the team they represent.
The rewards for success – claiming silverware, reaching finals and integrating world-class talent – have never been greater. Nor have the repercussions for failure.
Manchester United are a global sporting brand with a reputation to uphold – an image that has been severely damaged by the remarkable downturn under Moyes’s stewardship.
As a business and worldwide attraction to the best players, the absence of Champions League football for the first time in 18 seasons – and an uncertainty as to when they will return to the competition – will invariably be felt.
The prospect of no European football for the first time since 1995 ironically confirmed in Moyes’s final hurrah at the home of his former club.
Managers are the cornerstone of any club, the ultimate decision makers and, however harsh, the ones who take responsibility during troubled times. Even those occupying the biggest hotseats cannot buy time when it is desperately needed.
Moyes has bore the brunt of one of the most miserable campaigns ever presided over at Manchester United with a higher ratio of low points than memorable moments.
By appointing a canditate with no previous experience of managing in the Champions League group stages or beyond and without a major trophy to his name, the club were merely fulfilling Sir Alex Ferguson’s choice.
The longevity of an 11-year stay at Everton and his ability to launch the careers of fully-fledging youngsters – such as the 17-year-old Wayne Rooney that burst onto the scene on Merseyside – were attractive strings to his bow.
In terms of matching the Manchester United job description of guiding the club through its toughest phase of transition, his shoes were too big and his feet just too small.
The bottom line is results and unfortunately for Moyes, as his record of 27 wins from 51 games in all competitions testified, he has been unable to earn them to the high standards that the Red Devils have come to expect.
United have lost almost half of their games in 2014, claimed just one win against sides in the top six and are set for their lowest points tally since the Premier League’s inception – an untenable record that hardly bodes well on a managerial CV.
The disappointing showing at Goodison Park illuminated the peak of their decline – a demise that has painfully unravelled in front of a beleaguered Moyes.
A lack of penetration and quality in the final third encompassed by no midfield creativity and ominous defensive vulnerability has been the repeated narrative and recipe for disaster.
The tainted faith in a project that had no obvious sense of forward direction has been slowly burgeoning since back-to-back home defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City – and it has eventually wore thin.
The blame though should not be apportioned entirely at his door. The state of the playing squad inherited, without cash injection, was unlikely to replicate last season’s title triumph and compete at the highest level in Europe given the strengthening of their rivals.
A number of players have not stepped up to the plate and proved their worth when pulling on the famous red shirt this season with some illustrating an unhealthy attitude that has resonated throughout the club.
Ferguson himself has to look back with a semblance of regret, for making the decision to appoint a manager that did not tick all the required boxes and subsequently leaving him with inadequate resources to cope with the demands of the job.
Moyes may have been ridiculed but Ferguson can also be embarrassed by the sequence of events which has led to the removal of the boss he selected to carry on the dynasty at one of the world’s most revered and trophy-laiden clubs.
The at-times toxic feeling generated by some supporters in conjunction with a loss of the fear factor instilled under Ferguson’s tenure has contributed to Old Trafford’s transformation from a fortress to a giveaway arcade, with six home league defeats and underwhelming exits to weaker top-flight opposition in the FA Cup and Capital One Cup.
As the weak handling of the unscrupulous media attention has demonstrated, Moyes has largely been unable to stamp his own authority. The stance on Rooney’s long-running transfer saga with Chelsea was a rare example of the Scot taking control of disconcerted situations.
The timing of his departure may raise eyebrows with just four games remaining but the romance surrounding player-coach Ryan Giggs as caretaker boss may have been too alluring.
Assessing his credentials and undoubted ability to galvanise the squad ahead of making a bold decision could be the theory in their bid to end a turbulent campaign on a positive note.
Entrusting Moyes with the planned overhaul during the summer may have been terminal for the club both financially and reputably. Had United scraped into the top four with an attractive brand of football, Moyes may well have earned another season. The unilateral slide down to seventh is too much in such a short space of time.
Several high-profile names – Jurgen Klopp and Louis van Gaal – have been floating around the rumour mill as potential replacements as United look to erase the turmoil and begin preparations for a brighter outlook next season.
A sorrowful state of affairs has finally reached its conclusion for a British manager who has always harboured potential but could not fulfil it when his chance came along.
Moyes’s exceptional progression at Everton should not escape the memory banks, propelling a disillusioned mid-table outfit to regular top-ten finishes.
The Scot has fallen foul of the ruthfulness that has engulfed the managerial merry-go-round in recent years in a scenario reminiscent of Roy Hodgson’s bleak spell in charge of the Anfield reins in 2010, which came to a similar sticky end.
Although rejoicing about a respectable man who has lost his job is wrong, Moyes will be forever remembered for his catastrophic and ill-fated stint at Old Trafford. What the future holds for the 51-year-old is another matter entirely.
David Moyes at Old Trafford Image by i.telegraph via Creative Commons License