David Moyes’ Great Calamity

David Moyes

Manchester United finally sacked embattled boss David Moyes Tuesday morning. Months of pressure on Sir Alex Ferguson’s hand-picked successor culminated in the decision, which was announced after a media firestorm on Monday, and it was a decision reached by the Glazers and the board after United’s dismal display at Goodison Park on Sunday. That 2-0 defeat ended any hope of a miracle top-four finish and left the seventh-placed club six points adrift of Spurs for Europa League qualification. In the meantime, United have clinched their record amount of losses and lowest point total of the Premier League era.

Think about it: Manchester United, a side indelibly associated with Europe’s premier club competition, won’t be participating in it for the first time since 1995-96. They won’t even be in Europa League. So for the first time since 1981-82, no European football for a club that feels it is its birthright.

Now. There is no doubt that the club have been in turmoil, almost since Moyes was appointed on a six-year deal. Moyes failed to bring in Thiago Alcantara and/or Cesc Fabregas last summer. He panicked and spent £27.5 million on his former midfielder at Everton, Marouane Fellaini; he promptly flopped. In January, he doled out a club-record fee to bring in disgraced Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata; he has failed to make a difference. United crashed out of the FA Cup and League Cup that month. Liverpool embarrassed them at Old Trafford in March. Manchester City drilled them twice. Even Moyes’ old club did the double against him.

There’s more. The dressing room was in disarray under the Scot. Robin Van Persie, who carried the Red Devils to the league crown last term, got hurt again and took up complaining. Moyes managed to alienate Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs (the man replacing him on an interim basis). Danny Welbeck apparently wants out. Moyes’ tactics and training methods pissed off his players, who were not used to playing negatively at home and WERE used to being left alone.

All told, Moyes’ 295-day tenure at Manchester United was a nightmare, one that a big club like United are david-moyes_2641120bhorrified to find themselves in. But was this entirely Moyes’ fault?

Yes, the pressure got to him, and he was never fully comfortable in his role as manager of one of the five biggest clubs in the world. It was evident on multiple occasions. But David Moyes inherited one of the luckiest champions in Premier League history. This was (and still is) a club equipped with a poor midfield and a sorry backline. Again, Robin Van Persie stayed healthy last year, and his form (26 goals in league play) was enough to clinch a 20th first-division title.

But Moyes couldn’t even get United to fourth place this term. The two north London sides were either injured (Arsenal) or laughably bad (Spurs), and Everton were seventh on 22 February, so he had chances to prove Sir Alex right and guide United to a Champions League place. Instead, his now-former club’s 17 wins, 11 losses, and six draws look remarkably similar to what his old Everton sides would amass.

Ferguson could have picked Carlo Ancelotti. He could have had Jürgen Klopp. He even could have had José Mourinho. But he selected David Moyes, a man he thought was most like him, and whose reputation is perhaps now permanently tarnished due to his Old Trafford debacle. He must now rehabilitate his managerial career and attempt to distance himself from the “I replaced Sir Alex” stigma. It won’t be easy, but guiding West Ham to sixth in the table in 2015 wouldn’t hurt!

I read this on one of the English tabloids yesterday, and it was a good point, so I will repeat it here: the best job right now is the guy replacing the guy who replaced Sir Alex. That man will be granted £200 million to spend this summer; money originally earmarked for Moyes, whom the Utd board decided they just could no longer trust. And you can understand their reasoning while still feeling somewhat sorry for Moyes, who simply was out of his depth.

At least he re-signed Wayne Rooney?

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2 Responses to David Moyes’ Great Calamity

  1. Good article, can’t entirely blame Moyes when he was out of his depth from day one, and little could have changed it. A club that knew nothing but success for the last 20 years, and even when they didn’t succeed they had Ferguson who knew how to keep it from snowballing and whip everyone back into shape. From top to bottom, they seemed ill-equipped to deal with a season like this. Moyes had been successful by Everton standards but never won anything, spent seven months managing United like he was still managing Everton, and looking generally clueless doing it (if I had a million pounds for every game they lost in which he claimed they played well, I could probably buy Fellaini myself).

    That said, as you indicated, this is a club in dire need of a facelift, and it’s amazing that Ferguson (and RVP) dragged them over the line last year. Moyes deserves most of the blame, but the squad wasn’t up to par, the owners are dithering idiots, the board looked as confused in the transfer market as Moyes did (David Gill leaving at the same time as Ferguson did the club no favours), and giving Ferguson total freedom to choose his own successor was a big mistake. Moyes’s tactics were frequently awful, but the players looking like they couldn’t be bothered most of the time didn’t help either.

    I suspect they’ll hire Van Gaal and be back in the top four within two years (debt be damned, they make so much in sponsorships they’ll be able to compete in the transfer market) but the years of them being able to lay claim to the “Different Big Club” title are over and have been since Ferguson walked away. It’s just never gonna be like that again.

    • jerblaber says:

      Grey: I mean, how many starting XIs did Moyes have? 1,202? It was ridiculous. They have to make noise this summer–and not the kind where, you know, they don’t know how Spanish buyout clauses work. As for the next manager, I think it’s very likely Van Gaal is the man; they want Klopp or Mourinho more, but neither of them will leave their current posts. They’ll be top-four again soon enough, but I agree, their period of domestic domination and continental contention as we have known it is finished for the foreseeable future.

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