While most of the media coverage today will be on all of the mistakes that Manchester United and Moyes have made in the past 12 months now that Moyes’ reign has come to an end, let’s take a look at five of the highlights of his short career in charge of the Red Devils:
5. Manchester United vs Wigan (Community Shield) – August 11, 2013
Had it been any other trophy, it surely would be #1 on the list. However, given that it was no more than a glorified friendly against a team relegated to the Championship, Moyes’ only trophy as Manchester United boss bears little significance. A Van Persie brace was enough to win a game that was notable to United fans because it suggested that Moyes rated young Wilfried Zaha; something the rest of the season would prove to be incorrect. Also of note was the involvement of Cleverley and Anderson who would be phased out as the season went along.
4. Manchester United v Swansea – August 17, 2013
With the backdrop of a possible transfer to Chelsea, Wayne Rooney came off the bench to provide an assist as Danny Welbeck chipped the goalkeeper for United’s fourth goal. Realistically though, the points had been secured by two brilliant Van Persie goals, which gave hope to Manchester United fans. Never again did ‘The Chosen One’ banner fly more proudly than it did on this day. At this point, Moyes had equaled the record held by Dave Sexton as the best start as boss to Manchester United in recent history. Both were 4-1 wins away from home. Sexton was sacked 4 years later on April 30, 1981. Moyes didn’t even make it to April 30, 2014.
3. Manchester United v Arsenal – November 10, 2013
After losing to Liverpool, being annihilated by Manchester City and playing out a dour draw at home to Chelsea, United faced an in-form Arsenal side in November. Buoyed by the deadline day signing of Mezut Ozil, Arsene Wenger’s side entered this game as favorites. Deploying Jones in midfield helped nullify the German international, and United came away with a hard-fought victory. The play was uninspired, but for the time-being, it assured media and fans that the manager could instil some fight into his players.
2. Manchester United v Bayer Leverkusen – November 27, 2013
After the Arsenal game, United dropped points from a seemingly comfortable position when Kim Bo-Kyung scored a goal for Cardiff City to equalize after Rooney and Evra had nullified Frazier Campbell’s goal. Two days later, Moyes’ men flew to Germany to face Bayer Leverkusen, sitting second in the league behind Bayern Munich. Giggs was included in center midfield – something we would see often in Moyes’ European selections – and along with Kagawa and Rooney, helped secure an incredible 5-0 win away from home. While the scoreline was impressive, it was one of many false dawns, as United would go on to grab only one point from the next possible nine against Spurs, Everton and Newcastle.
1. Manchester United v Olympiacos – March 19, 2014
After a disastrous away performance, Manchester United needed to overturn a 2-0 deficit at Old Trafford. Enter Robin van Persie. A stunning hat trick and Old Trafford celebrated as some quality attacking football reminded the Old Trafford faithful that there was still desire in a team that had been embarrassed by Liverpool three days earlier. It is important to note that the Dutchman suffered a knee injury at the end of this game, after which he has not been seen in a United shirt.
Overall, perhaps Moyes’ best moments as manager came off the field – securing the contracts of Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj and signing Juan Mata. And, that in itself is a damning indictment of an honest football man who was clearly not ready for the pressure of succeeding his fellow Scotsman.