One year on from Moyes, we look at the managerial marriage from hell
The date of April 22nd is etched into the history books as the only occasion when Manchester United sacked a manager in the last quarter of a century and a year on from David Moyes’ exit, the club finds itself in a very different place.
Louis van Gaal’s appointment as United boss last summer instantly changed the mood at a club that had slipped into a deepening depression under the watch of a Scottish tactician who was out of his depth from the moment he was appointed as Alex Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford.
Following the most successful manager of all-time may have been a thankless task, but few could have predicted how woefully unprepared Moyes was for the job, with a defeat against his old club Everton at Goodison Park proving to be the final entry in his United story.
As the first anniversary of his dismissal is noted today, sundayworld.com looks back on the hits and misses of 12 months that have helped to repair the damage done during his ill-conceived, misguided and predictably brief spell as United boss.
THE MOYES LEGACY – Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata
It is easy to suggest everything Moyes touched at United was a disaster, but the reality must be that his two major signings have, eventually, turned out to be huge successes at United for his successor Van Gaal.
Belgian star Fellaini was used by many as a symbol of the failed Moyes ethos last season, with the £27m signing fluffing his lines time and again as he tried to justify the faith shown in him by his former Everton manager. A year on, and the towering, fluffy haired star is getting standing ovations from the Old Trafford crowd for his match winning displays. That was hard to imagine a year ago.
The other major success of the Moyes era has to be Mata’s form. Once again, he took time to find his feet at United, but his input into an end of season run that looks certain to put United back into the Champions League next season confirms the £37m deal Moyes pushed for in January 2014 was a shrewd move.
THE DAMAGE DONE – United finances and reputation take a battering
No-one could have imagined Moyes would have been so unsuited to the United role as he had a decade of experience in the Premier League with Everton and appeared to have served his apprenticeship ahead of a job promotion.
As it turns out, he was unfit for purpose, as he gave off an impression that he couldn’t believe he was United manager and looked like a child who had won a competition to land one of the biggest jobs in the sport.
His rhetoric in press conferences was that of a manager who was not working to an agenda that befitted a club of United’s stature, with his pleas for time to build a new future for the club not what fans wanted to hear. A small time manager in a big time job? That is how it appears.
United's financial position also took a battering due to the failings of Moyes. The lack of Champions League football this season was a hammer blow to the club's coffers, as well as their reputation as one of the game's super-clubs.
THE BRUTAL END – Sacked a day after everyone else was told
United handled the departure of Moyes in a brutally unprofessional manner, with leaks on the Monday afternoon followed by huge media coverage of his imminent departure before he was finally given the bad news by United executive vice-chairman at United’s Carrington training ground on the Tuesday.
The sacking could and should have been executed so much better as despite his evident inability to do the United job, Moyes deserved better than the unceremonious culling he was forced to endure.
The months that have followed have seen Ferguson distance himself from the idea that he was the man responsible for picking Moyes, with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti both in the frame for the job before the ‘local’ option was taken up.
THE VAN GAAL EFFECT – A manager who can handle the job
Comparisons with Van Gaal and Moyes were relevant for some as United stumbled under their Dutch tactician this season, but the aura and track record of the man now filling the Old Trafford hot-seat confirmed he was always likely to get it right.
Working at top clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and United bring unique demands and Moyes didn’t know what hit him when he swapped his comfortable existence at Everton for the splendor and the expectations that at attached to United.
Even though he inherited a side that were reigning Premier League champions, Moyes was not expected to win trophies aplenty in his first season at United, but he was expected to show he was good enough to do the job in his first season in charge.
That is where Van Gaal has succeeded and Moyes failed so horribly and for a club that has known nothing but success over the last 25 years, the bar for success is set so high.
WHAT NEXT FOR MOYES – A return to England beckons
Moyes arrived at United with a stellar reputation from his years as Everton boss, but he left 10 months later with his reputation as a top tier manager in tatters.
Now in charge at Real Sociedad (below with Barcleona's Lionel Messi), he has suggested he will return to the Premier League at some stage in his career, but the reality is that he will never again be given the chance to lead of the game’s genuine giants.
Opportunity knocked when he was given the keys of power at Manchester United and moments like that only come around once in a lifetime.
Moyes will forever be left to ponder what might have been.