Man United: Moyes' Five Most Disappointing Wins
In his time at Old Trafford, David Moyes promised much and delivered very little.
When United had picked up a decent result or showed some resolve, Moyes would beat the same repetitive drum that both his playing and coaching staff were doing the right things and had “turned the corner”. The United fans rarely bought it. But there were moments during the season when the Scotsman wasn’t the sole person to buy this line of argument. Indeed, there were moments when the Reds did look like they might have been able to push on and produce a top three finish or become champions of Europe. So, here are the five false dawns of David Moyes’ time in charge of Manchester United.
Swansea 1-4 Manchester United – The first false dawn of United’s ‘annus horribilis’ occurred in Moyes’ first Premier League game as manager of the club. He had secured his only ‘silverware’ at United the week before with the Community Shield win over Wigan but the real test would begin at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea dominated early on but two quick fire goals from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck put the Reds two goals in front. Both players added to their tallies later on either side of Wilfried Bony’s debut goal for the Swans.
Despite being under the cosh in the opening half hour, Moyes’ United had ground out a comfortable victory to the backdrop of the fans singing “We’ll win the Football League again, this time with David Moyes”.
It was a belief that was short-lived as United were unable to beat either Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City over the next five weeks.
Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United – United travelled to the Stadium of Light off the back of a home defeat to West Bromwich Albion the week before and Moyes was under serious pressure for the first time in his tenure. Enter Adnan Januzaj.
Many outside observers felt that the Belgian-born playmaker’s first start for the club was the last throw of the dice of a desperate man after United’s poor start to the league season. But fans of the club knew that Januzaj’s was a special talent after some impressive substitute appearances built on his growing reputation with the Under 21s.
Sunderland took the lead in the opening five minutes through Craig Gardner and lead at the break. But Januzaj took the initiative all on his own and scored a brace of goals around the hour mark, the second of which should be a major contender for the club’s goal of the season and United held on for the victory.
But after the international break the Reds surrendered a lead at home to Southampton and two points were dropped yet again in a very winnable game.
Bayer Leverkusen 0-5 Manchester United – Unbeaten since the aforementioned West Brom game but still struggling for steady winning form, United had been most impressive in Europe.
In the Champions League group stages, wins at home and draws away are a sure fire way to finish top of the group and a draw in Germany would go a long way to confirming the club’s place in the second knockout round. But Moyes set out his team with attacking intent from the off with Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa particularly impressive as United romped to a 5-0 victory.
It was the most accomplished performance of Moyes’ reign to that point (and probably throughout his entire time at the club) and it perhaps pointed to an improvement in future performances.
But the Scotsman messed with the formula over the next few matches and it led to the Reds securing a solitary point from their next three league matches, a run which played a huge part in United’s failure to qualify for Europe’s premier competition.
Hull City 2-3 Manchester United – United went into this game off the back of four straight wins in all competitions after a terrible start to December. They had looked impressive on their way to a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa and a 3-1 home triumph over West Ham United and had reached the next stages of both the Champions League and League Cup before Christmas.
An early Boxing Day kick-off saw United still caught doing some Christmas afternoon napping as the champions went two down in the opening fifteen minutes. The introduction of Januzaj after Rafael limped off with an injury sparked a comeback that saw United level before the half hour mark. Ex-Red James Chester scored an own goal midway through the second half to win United the points, despite Antonio Valencia being sent off late on.
The game showcased that the ability to come back from the dead was still alive and kicking in the squad and that the United of old was still hiding amongst the problems that Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure had caused.
The Reds went on to lose four of their next five games, one of which saw them exit the FA Cup, one which saw them on the brink of a League Cup exit and two league defeats that effectively brought the club’s charge on the top four to an end.
Manchester United 3-0 Olympiakos – After an absolutely dismal defeat in Greece, United went into this game with the very real possibility of exiting Europe before the quarter final stage to a team who would struggle to stave off relegation in the Premier League.
Liverpool had just demolished the Reds by three goals at Old Trafford which dampened the already very quiet optimism that had been surrounding this second leg tie. Ryan Giggs was handed a rare start by Moyes and it would pay dividends.
Giggs was instrumental as United overturned the two goal deficit from the first leg. Despite a scoreline that suggested the game all went the way of Moyes’ men, Olympiakos produced some excellent chances that they were just unable to convert. Robin van Persie had no such problem as he bagged a hat-trick to send United through to the quarter finals.
United were drawn with the current champions Bayern Munich in the next round and they put paid to the Reds’ venture in Europe for this season. It would also spell the end of United’s run of eighteen straight seasons in the Champions League as qualification through their league position became nigh-on impossible. Keeping himself in a job also became nigh-on impossible for Moyes and he was sacked thirteen days after their humbling at the Allianz Arena.