Man United: We Don't Hate Moyes, But He Wasn't Worthy Of This Club
So, it's official. David Moyes' catastrophic tenure as Manchester United manager has come to an end. The writing was on the wall, daubed in huge, garish letters, after yet another embarrassing defeat, this time to his old club, Everton, whose supporters relished the opportunity to rub copious amounts of salt into his suppurating wounds. It was a final indignity for a man who has seemed consumed by fear and a crippling inferiority complex since walking, timorously, through the doors of Old Trafford, little under a year ago.
However much sympathy one has for Moyes on a human level, when surveying the wreckage he is leaving in his wake, the only shock is that he wasn't clearing his desk months ago. United fans have lost count of the number of times a final straw has been reached, only for them to be subjected to further humiliation, heaped upon them by all and sundry.
That wreckage will now be sifted through with a fine-tooth comb, the debris and body parts analysed in forensic detail by fans still reeling from a harrowing, ten month journey.
The list of Moyes' mistakes seems endless and would probably be best written on one of those comedy cartoon scrolls that, when unfurled, rolls away far into the distance. In truth, Ferguson's successor, supposedly cut from the same cloth as his fellow Glaswegian, never felt like a Manchester United manager. Those early photographs of him grinning from behind Ferguson's vacated desk, or beaming beside the club crest, outside Old Trafford, revealed a man incredulous as to his good fortune, like a cat being given free reign in a creamery. United needed a manager who would exude confidence and relish the challenge of filling Ferguson's sizeable shoes. Moyes exuded disbelief and immediately appeared consumed by terror at the task.
Having, bafflingly, banished his predecessor's back-room staff, presumably in order to show he was his own man, he and his sidekick, Ed Woodward, then embarked on the most absurd summer transfer-quest in living memory, appearing to throw darts at a wall-chart of players before revealing their targets to the world. These things, combined with a poor pre-season tour and Moyes' lunatic-ramblings about the fixture list, signified an inauspicious start to the Moyes era and, as it transpires, were simply a taste of things to come.
Having been anointed by Ferguson, David Moyes then became king-maker himself, embarking on a cringeworthy campaign to keep Wayne Rooney at the club, inflating him and his importance to United beyond all measure. This screamed, once again, of Moyes wanting to show that he would do things his own way, unconcerned with Ferguson's polar-opposite view on the Liverpudlian.
Rooney has long been a divisive player amongst fans and it is not too great a leap to assume that the same could be said for the dressing room. It is a risky business for a manager to put too much power in the hands of one player and, in the second leg of United's clash with Bayern Munich, in the Champions League quarter final, when an injured Rooney remained on the pitch, despite being unable to even strike the ball, Moyes' shocking over-reliance on his captain-to-be was laid bare.
Manchester United is a club synonymous with vibrant, attacking football, a never-say-die attitude, flare, romance and wonderful players. Yet, under Moyes, such qualities were few and far between and came only against weak opposition who still showed the reigning English champions too much respect. It quickly became clear that this was a fading beast who no longer lashed out ferociously when poked but rather recoiled like a timid pet, hiding behind its owner's legs at the sound of a firework going off.
Of course, the players must shoulder some of the responsibility, not to mention the Glazers and, yes, even Ferguson himself. Nevertheless, it is impossible to imagine managers such as Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, to name but two, standing for such standards. Where they would inspire and intimidate from the touchline, Moyes would clap his hands in a futile show of an authority he never possessed; where they might deliver a tactical masterclass, Moyes and his coaching staff would stare blankly at the disaster unfolding before their eyes; where they have the authority, gravitas and bulging trophy-hauls top players respect, Moyes had a gaping hole in his CV that the players he inherited never attempted to fill. And, where Guardiola and Mourinho could attract the world's elite stars in a heartbeat, 'Moyes' is a name that would still the fluttering within their chests.
Woeful football, prehistoric tactical ineptitude, an embarrassing lack of past success and a team of winners who, for the most part, clearly never believed that he was the right man for the job, followed by the kind of PR that left United fans blinking in disbelief week after miserable week. At this club, it is no good to simply 'try' or 'hope' or keep injured players in the fray because of the fear of what the fans or the media would say if they were withdrawn. His frequent quotes about having been told about how great certain players were, as if he had spent the last few years living in a cave, were always going to make Moyes a figure of ridicule, while assertions that Liverpool were coming to Old Trafford as favourites and Manchester City were the kind of team United aspired to be caused frothing anger amongst the fans. His suggestion that Ferguson would have struggled with the same players, this season, was a ludicrous observation that said more about his own mental state and flailing delusion than anything else.
It was the night in Athens when United fans could see with absolute clarity that Moyes was fast running out of support, both on and off the pitch. The performances, if they could be called that, against Liverpool and Manchester City, during that grim period, surely set his fate in stone. He could have done with some friends at that stage but, having alienated the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, he was akin to a man gasping for water in a desert.
It has been a squalid season that Manchester United fans would rather forget, made all the more painful when cast in the shadow of the relative success enjoyed by Liverpool, who have pounced like tigers on United's demise, the epitome of team spirit, togetherness and ravenous hunger when compared to the shambles Moyes has overseen. Indeed, it will be a bitter pill for United fans to swallow that they gifted their greatest rivals six points, without so much as a whimper, should they go on to win the title.
It is perhaps fitting that Goodison Park staged David Moyes' final scene as manager of Manchester United. There will be few United fans who wish him ill, appreciating the fact he was a man trying his hardest to swim against a tide too strong to bear. The great hope now is that his successor is able to quickly and effectively turn the tide that is carrying the club itself into an ocean of mediocrity.