David Moyes’ troubled reign at Manchester United came to an abrupt end yesterday, when the Scot was fired after a hugely disappointing 10-month spell as manager after replacing Alex Ferguson in July last year.
Announcing his departure in a terse, two-line statement, the Premier League giants thanked Moyes for “the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role” at Old Trafford.
Veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs, 40, was appointed to take interim charge of the team for the final four games of the season, with United mired in seventh place, 23 points behind league leaders Liverpool.
Newspapers had earlier reported that Moyes would be fired, trumpeting the “End of an Error” after the US owners, the Glazer family, lost patience and decided the manager had to go in the wake of a tame 2-0 defeat at his former club Everton on Sunday.
The defeat at Goodison Park also ensured that United will miss out on Champions League soccer next season, failing to qualify for Europe’s big-money competition for the first time since 1995-1996.
Moyes, who turns 51 on Friday, was appointed on the recommendation of fellow Scot Ferguson, who retired at the end of last season after 26 years in the job.
Speculation immediately turned to who might take over at Old Trafford, with Dutchman Louis van Gaal quickly installed as the bookmakers’ favorite.
The former Barcelona, Ajax Amsterdam and Bayern Munich boss is coach of the Netherlands, but has already said he will stand down after the World Cup in Brazil and has talked of a move to the Premier League.
Ferguson had steered United to the title last season for the 13th time and the club’s 20th overall, but the self-belief and confidence that had characterized his years in charge evaporated abruptly under Moyes.
Former United stalwart Gary Neville suggested Moyes should have been given more time to make his mark and said the fault was not his alone.
“The idea of giving people three and four and six-year contracts and then getting rid of them after 10 months is something that is foreign to me,” he told Sky television. “However, there is no disguising that the football this season has been poor, the results have been poor. As a fan, I’ve not enjoyed watching it. I’m sure David Moyes himself hasn’t enjoyed watching it. I’ve played with a lot of those players, they love the club and are desperate to do well for the club, but they’ve just completely lost confidence and belief. That’s ultimately what’s cost David Moyes.”
Moyes’ sudden departure evoked memories of the traumatic spell the Old Trafford club suffered between 1969 and 1971, when Matt Busby retired after 24 years as boss.
His hand-picked successor Wilf McGuinness only lasted 18 months before Busby took over the reins again.
Ferguson will not be returning to the dugout, but the comparisons between his time and Moyes’ brief stint did not help the new man.
“People say they’re not a sacking club, Man United don’t sack managers. Well, there’s one reason why they’ve not sacked a manager for the last 26 years. It’s because they had the best,” former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp said. “They’ve never needed to. Otherwise, they’d have just been like everybody else and probably had nine or 10 managers.”
Moyes, who was previously in charge of Everton for 11 seasons without winning a trophy, was given a six-year contract by United, but they have lurched from one crisis to another.