So far we’ve looked at the disastrous managerial spells of Bob Bradley and Joe Kinnear at Swansea and Newcastle, these two managers joined their clubs at times of crisis as they struggled for survival in the Premier League. The difference with our next candidate is that he didn’t take over a side on the verge of relegation. When David Moyes took over Manchester United, the club was unquestionably the biggest in England and had just won the league for the 13th time in 21 years, under the guidance of the greatest manager of all time, Alex Ferguson. So no pressure then David.
Moyes was clearly appointed because he’s good mates with Sir Alex, there really is no other way around that. However, it is important to remember that Moyes actually had a pretty good CV at this point. While a four-year spell at Preston North End was never going to get him the United job he had overseen an impressive 11-year stint at Everton. The Toffees’ budget during Moyes’ reign was pretty much any spare cash the board could find behind the sofa, so to deliver Champions League football was very impressive. Moyes’ career would crash and burn once he got the United job though.
Trouble started before a ball had been kicked. United fans understandably wanted a top tier manager to replace Sir Alex and to see the likes of Mourinho and Guardiola linked with the job, only for Moyes to be appointed was incredibly disappointing. Then there was the mess of the transfer window. Wayne Rooney was subject to multiple bids from Chelsea, and while turned down it was not ideal that one of the Red Devils best players was being linked with a move away.
United tried to sign Ander Herrera, Sami Khedira and Cesc Fabregas in a bid to replace Paul Scholes, but these bids failed miserably. Leighton Baines and Fabio Coentrao were targets but their moves never materialised. In the end, the only major signing was deadline day arrival Marouane Fellaini, for £27.5 million. The big Belgian was not kindly received and seemed like a panic buy on the part of Moyes. While the squad he inherited had just won the league, it definitely needed refreshing and Moyes failed miserably in this department.
So how were on the pitch results? At first actually pretty good. United defeated the Championship side Wigan Athletic to win the definitely prestigious Community Shield and Moyes ended the first day of the season on top of the table as United comfortably defeated Swansea. Unfortunately for Moyes, this would be the last time his United side were at the summit of the Premier League table.
After this win, United would draw at home to Chelsea and then lose at Anfield the following week. This put United out of the top four and was the first time they had not scored in successive games in six years. To make matters worse they would lose 4-1 to cross town rivals Manchester City. Already it looked like Moyes would have a difficult time trying to retain the Premier League. He wasn’t helped by the fact that United would then lose 2-1 to West Brom at home at the end of September.
Eventually, it looked like things might start going Moyes’ way. United went on a 7 game unbeaten run, defeating Arsenal along the way as Adnan Januzaj burst onto the scene. The Red Devils also made their way through the Champions League group stages and progressed to the League – or whatever sponsor it was named after – Cup semi-final as well.
Back to back home losses to Everton and Newcastle halted this momentum and it was clear the fans were becoming agitated with Moyes. His style of play was hardly the ‘Man United Way’ and he seemed pretty depressed in press conferences. Man United would cap 0ff December with five straight victories but the club was definitely way off the pace of the leaders.
The signing of Juan Mata in January was definitely the high point of the month as they lost to Swansea in the FA Cup 3rd round, went out of the League Cup semi-final to Sunderland and lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Frustration was really showing in the fans now. In fact, before the Arsenal Fan TV sensation, it is arguable that Andy Tate was the most famous fan on the internet. His calls to ‘give it Giggsy till the end of the season’ and his harsh stance on David Moyes rung true with a lot of United fans, even if Tate became an internet meme.
In February United picked up 5 points out of a possible 12, and while March was a little better points-wise, as United collected 9 out of a possible 15 points, heavy defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City at home meant that the Red Devils languished in seventh place. There were calls for Moyes to go before, but now they weren’t just loud, they were deafening. This was typified by a flyover (the last resort of all desperate football fans, for some reason) during United’s home win against Villa on March 29th. Moyes claimed that the fans had always been behind him. Not only was Moyes failing on the pitch, it seemed he could no longer see or hear what the fans were saying.
April was the end for David Moyes. Despite a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle, United lost to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals and on Sunday April 20th they lost 2-0 at home to high-flying Everton. This made it mathematically impossible for United to secure Champions League football on April 22nd Moyes was sacked, just 11 months into his 6 year (yes seriously, six years) contract. Ryan Giggs would manage the team until the end of the season and salvage a 7th placed finish, United’s lowest since 1990. Moyes was nothing short of a disaster.
So where did it all go wrong for poor old David Moyes? Well, firstly he was blatantly the wrong man for the job. Succeeding Alex Ferguson was the hardest job in world football and demanded a manager who was used to being at the top. Guardiola and Mourinho were used to that sort of pressure, whereas Moyes had no real pressure managing Everton. Moyes is a fine manager, but is limited tactically, and this showed as United were terrible against their direct rivals. The transfer dealings were lacklustre, the fans never took to him, the results weren’t good enough and Moyes wasn’t ready. It was a disastrous appointment from the start and David Moyes has never really recovered his career. Just ask Sunderland fans.