So 'Mo-yes' turned out to be 'Mo-no' for the Red Devils - I’m sorry I couldn’t resist -and 'The Chosen One' was more like 'The Wrong One', as was so boldly displayed by a banner that flew over Old Trafford during a league game late last month.
Under the stewardship of the former Everton manager Manchester United went from defending league champions to a side languishing in the mediocrity of the mid-table, and are set to finish with their lowest points tally in the Premier League... ever. The Red Devils also find themselves missing out on Europe’s premier competition, the UEFA Champions League, for the first time since 1995.
At this point last season, United had long wrapped up the title, sitting pretty on 85 points, with a yawning 31-point gap between themselves and rivals Liverpool who were in sixth. Fast-forward one year later, and the Merseyside outfit are poised to reclaim a title they last won 24 years ago, while United lie 23 points further back in seventh place. Reversed roles much?
Well, frankly speaking, the list of unwanted records that Moyes has had the unfortunate honour of breaking in his truly ghastly period at the helm of arguably the biggest club in England is a never-ending scroll. Both Liverpool and Everton have completed league doubles over United for the first time, and did so without conceding too.
Let’s turn our attention to another Scotsman, although seemingly that is where their similarities end, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at United could not be any more different to that which Moyes has endured. Fergie won 38 trophies in 26 years at Old Trafford, and there’s not a single superlative that I can use to describe that record which hasn’t been used yet, so I won’t bother trying.
At the end of his illustrious career, Sir Alex decided to take it upon himself to do one last thing for his beloved United; handpick one whom he felt would be able to step into his shoes and carry on with the club’s proud legacy and tradition. After casting a long, hard, searching look over the murky waters, he cast his net and fished out Moyes, who himself had seen out 11 years at Goodison Park with Everton and was the third-longest serving manager in the league at the time.
It wasn’t a match made in heaven in truth, but after much encouragement from Fergie, culminating in a rousing, rallying speech after his final home game, United fans gave his would-be successor the benefit of the doubt. To say that it hasn’t quite worked out would b a gross understatement, wouldn’t it?
Following Moyes’ dismissal a few conspiracy theories have been bandied about on social media. One that I find particularly ludicrous is that this Moyes’ appointment was a deliberate ploy by Sir Alex Ferguson to preserve his legacy and to perhaps remind everyone exactly how much he will be missed. Surely it can’t be so?
First off, United loved Sir Alex, and the feeling, I’d like to believe, was mutual. So much so that Fergie wanted to not just leave Old Trafford, but to leave it in the hands of one who he believed could cut it at one of the biggest outfits in world football. I certainly was one who believed that Moyes would do well at United.
Sure his Everton side were not renowned for breathtaking football or the number of trophies they won, but seeing what he was able to achieve at a mid-table club with meagre finances, surely it was to get better with the increased financial muscle on offer at United?
If anything, Sir Alex will have had in mind that Moyes’ failure at Old Trafford would impact negatively on his own legacy, seeing as the Scot was his own personal choice. He would not have willingly put his own record on the line just to see Moyes fail... not at least in my opinion.
Some have also questioned why Moyes was given the nod while United had open to them the choice of more decorated, proven foreign managers such as Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho who reportedly shed a tear or two upon learning that he wouldn't be taking over at the Theatre of Dreams. While United have never had a foreign manager in their history, I wouldn’t want to think that this played a particularly huge role in Fergie’s decision-making, but that he saw this as an opportunity to continue the tradition, the norm, at Old Trafford.
Lastly, I also think that Fergie had to have overseen the enormity of the task that lay ahead of Moyes. The legendary gaffer himself took three years before delivering his first piece of silverware, and although admittedly Moyes has fallen far short of expectations in his first season, it was never going to be easy for him.
As Gary Lineker aptly put it, “...the manager’s job to have at Manchester United was the one after the one after Sir Alex.” As it turned out, Moyes is now United’s shortest-serving manager in all of 82 years.
Surely Fergie would not be proud of that either, as it represents a breaking away from the norm for United...they pride themselves in stability and longevity, and obviously ten months is not stable or long enough.
In my opinion this will have hurt Fergie as much as it hurt Moyes.
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