When David Moyes was unveiled as 'the Chosen One' at Old Trafford, charged with the unenviable task of filling the enormous shoes of one of the greatest managers in history at arguably the biggest club in world football, it was declared that he would be given a six-year contract.
A seemingly genuine show of faith in their new manager who had been handpicked by his predecessor, it was clear that the length of the contact was to provide security throughout an expected transitional period; confidence offered to Moyes during the undoubted teething problems that may occur in his preliminary season whilst invigorating a winning squad.
It would allow Moyes to retain the aura of champions whilst putting his own stamp on the club, providing fresh stability and continuity that would ensure the Red Devils remain one of the powerhouses of the beautiful games and enter a new period of domestic and European dominance.
Yet just 10 months later, Moyes was sacked, ruthlessly awoke from this dream-come-nightmare.
Moyes has broken records galore during his time in the Old Trafford hot seat. Unfortunately, they were the wrong ones he would've been hoping to break when he first laid out his master plan to the club's hierarchy.
The list of 'records' is long, and both the media and opposition fans alike have continually enjoyed reeling them off. All of these endeavour to contribute to Moyes' downfall.
But fans will argue that it is not simply these events that have destroyed both the Scot's reputation and the club's season. Instead, it is the manner in which his entire reign has fallen short.
Transfer market embarrassment, rumoured fall outs with big names, half hearted performances and tactical inability; everything was crumbling before him. The manager's demeanour both during and after his final defeat - ironically at the ground he used to call home - said it all as the grim reaper appeared with his scythe.
Yet none of these reasons are why Moyes was sacked so prematurely as manager of Manchester United. Of course, they have all contributed to his downfall, but Moyes' failures on the pitch and at the training ground are only part of the reason. The disappointing truth is that football is no longer primarily a sport. Today, first and foremost, it is a business. And like any business that begins to show signs of financial insecurity, the noose gets firmly tied around the neck of the man in charge.
Football being seen as a business is hardly groundbreaking news, whilst it goes without saying that money and success go hand in hand. The simple rule is that the more trophies a team wins, the more money they can receive through prize money, sponsorship and fans.
Yet the paradox would appear to be the balance between pleasing the fans and pleasing the board. The aim is obviously to achieve both. Yet imagine if Moyes has managed to lift both the FA and League Cups, whilst enduring a strong run in the Champions League; yet after 38 games, he fell outside the top four.
The fans, though disappointed to miss out on European football's elite competition for next season, would surely be more than content. Perhaps it may too have been enough to alleviate the pressure on the Scot and convince the Glazers that he was capable of building on it next season.
Though surely, from a financial point of view and the Glazers primary concern, 4th place was a must. Do they really care about the domestic silverware on offer if it comes at the expense of Champions League football?
Let's talk monetary terms for a moment. The winners of the FA Cup earn £1.8m in prize money, whilst the League Cup champions get a meagre £100k in comparison. In stark contrast, simply reaching the Champions’ League group stage injects £7m into the club, with nearly an additional £1m per win and half as much for a draw. Winning the competition can bank nearly an extra £10m in prize money.
Yet it is the television revenue that really makes the Champions League stand out. Last season, Juventus gained over £50m, of which just £17m was prize money - and they were knocked out in the quarter finals. Television deals are extortionate, let alone the global recognition gained and fan base reached from appearing in club football's premier competition. For all the criticism he receives, it puts into perspective how well a certain Frenchman has done at the Emirates Stadium despite that well documented trophy drought.
Manchester United's value has taken a big hit on the stock exchange this season, and with these vast sums of money now set to be expelled from next year's financial reports, it is easy to see why. One season could be controlled - albeit at a loss - but without faith in the manager that they can return next year, the reputation of the club as a whole could be damaged to a point that it would appear they are haemorrhaging money. It is not about winning the silverware; that's simply an added bonus - it's about being there alongside the elite.
When players look back on their careers, it will be the amount of medals they possess that will be remembered, determining their place in history and judging their careers by; not the amount of 2nd, 3rd or 4th placed finishes and seasons in Champions League competition. Likewise, fans will have the fondest memories of those glorious days where trophies are lifted. Unfortunately, at an executive level, it is only considered a success if there are financial rewards.
Whilst the players deserve to take their share of the blame - performing to nowhere near the level that saw them canter to the title in Sir Alex Ferguson's final hurrah - Moyes has undeniably made mistakes during his short tenure. He has faced a lot of criticism in the pressure cooker that is Old Trafford; some fair, some unjust - but the pressure was always going to be enormous in what turned out to be a poisoned chalice. Perhaps if Moyes had been afforded more time to rebuild a winning team he may well have succeeded. Perhaps not. Yet a manager of his credentials does not simply become bad overnight.
Money is the biggest motivator in today’s game; that’s a fact plain and simple. For some clubs that are pushing for Champions League places, the money on offer is something that they can dream about one day achieving. But at a global brand such as Manchester United, the money is practically required in order to endure sustainability as they know no other way.
The money is like a drug to the club. Ultimately, Moyes' biggest failure above all else was failing to convince the men in suits that he could make them money. And now Manchester United, who had been a model of consistency in showing how managerial stability can reap rewards, are just like the rest: a trigger happy, money making business.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU