So it ends. David Moyes’ 10-month reign as Manchester United manager came to an abrupt, rather unexpected conclusion this morning, with the Scot finally relieved of his duties after an exasperating 51-game stint in the toughest club job on the planet.
The Scot was deemed ‘the Chosen One’ by exiting legend Sir Alex Ferguson back in May, but following what has become United’s worst ever season in the top flight, fans are now insisting that Sir Alex got his last and most important decision at the club very wrong.
The limp 2-0 defeat away to Everton proved to be the last straw for the Glazer Family, who had until then remained behind their beleaguered boss, but the manner of the loss, following on from two positive Premier League victories over Aston Villa and Newcastle, surely proved that the club was not heading in the right direction under the 50-year-old.
But how was the defeat at Goodison Park Moyes’ worst match as United manager?
5. Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United, Premier League, 22nd September 2013
The game that started it all off. Moyes’ opening six games in charge at Old Trafford had been promising, with the Community Shield comfortably won against Wigan, and his only defeat away at Anfield. But the trip across the road to the noisy neighbors for his first Manchester Derby ended in humiliation, with his team swept aside with little fuss.
It was the first real sign of trouble. While City’s 1-6 win at Old Trafford back in 2011 was arguably a flash-in-the-pan, this 4-1 defeat was more sinister, considering United’s listless performance from start to finish.
4. Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle, Premier League, 7th December 2013
The Geordies’ first win at Old Trafford since 1972, and United’s first consecutive losses since 2002. The records were beginning to be rewritten in December, with Moyes starting to come in for real criticism.
Ninth in the table, below both Alan Pardew’s side and Southampton, and already 12 points behind leaders Arsenal having played a game more; United were on the ropes, and Moyes was rapidly losing support from all corners.
3. Manchester United 2-2 Fulham, Premier League, 9th February 2014
Although not a defeat, the manner in which Moyes’ side came out against lowly Fulham was baffling and just horrifying for the United faithful.
Darren Bent’s injury time header secured a point for the then rock-bottom Cottagers, with United putting all their eggs into a long ball game, lumping a whopping 81 crosses into the box, but with only 18 finding a red shirt.
Moyes said that the result was ‘as bad as it gets’, and a large contingent of United fans blamed the Scot for the scoreline, citing his negative, archaic tactics.
In the aftermath, Fulham defender Dan Burn likened the champions’ style of play to a conference side, while then boss Rene Meulensteen said that Moyes’ game plan was ‘straightforward‘.
2. Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United, Champions League, 25th February 2014
A shocking result this against an average Olympiacos outfit, putting United on the brink of an ignominious Champions League second round exit.
Alejandro Dominguez and Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell scored goals in either half, with Moyes’ side only registering one shot on target all game.
It was a match that thrust Tom Cleverley’s current limitations into the light, with super-striker Robin van Persie looking utterly dejected ploughing a lone furrow up top.
1. Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool, Premier League, 8th March 2014
While United are certainly not the only top side this season to feel Liverpool’s rapier sting, this home defeat to their bitter rivals was a new low for David Moyes and the club.
There was a certain inevitability about Brendan Rodgers’ side’s win that day, something that was just never heard of during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in the hot-seat, with United powerless to stem the endless flow of attacking vigor from the Premier League leaders.
Steven Gerrard scored two penalties, and missed a third, with Liverpool triumphantly proving the power-shift that has occurred in the north, something that United fans world-wide just couldn’t stomach.
Pundits began to claim that the club faced a ten-year rebuilding period, with the defeat to City by the same 3-0 scoreline just weeks later further consolidating the abject misery experienced by the club this season. One mortified fan even had to be stopped by stewards as he tried to confront Moyes.
While David Moyes redeemed some of the club’s pride with a respectable Champions League quarterfinal exit to Bayern Munich, there remained fears that the defensive-orientated, blunt game plan seen over the two legs was the sum total of his ability at the helm.
With Everton sending United back down the metaphorical snake on the weekend, Moyes’ suffering was finally put to rest. Ryan Giggs now looks to restore the club’s equilibrium, or something close to it, as the now sleeping giants look desperately towards a summer of rebirth.