Sacked Moyes 'out of his depth'
In the final analysis, Alex Ferguson's successor at United could not be entrusted with the task of rebuilding one of the world's greatest teams
When Manchester United overlooked Jose Mourinho and chose David Moyes to succeed Alex Ferguson, they gambled on a manager with neither a recognised winning mentality nor experience of European soccer - and with no trophies on his résumé.
Instead, United went for someone with a track record of loyalty and building a dynasty, as 11 relatively successful years at Everton would attest.
It quickly became apparent, however, that Moyes lacked the gravitas for one of the biggest jobs in soccer - that he was too satisfied with a mediocre level of performance, in awe of the team rather than ready to rebuild it.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion he was a man out of his depth. Take, for example, his response to a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool three games into the Premier League season.
"I thought we played very well" was Moyes' assessment of what most experts found to be a poor display by the reigning champions. With more performances like that, he added, United would surely finish "in or around the top four".
It was to be a recurring theme.
United took Moyes out of Everton, but not the Everton out of Moyes.
United great Ryan Giggs will serve as interim player-manager for the remainder of the season pending the hiring of a full-time replacement.
What was to prove Moyes' last post-match news conference came at Everton on Sunday, after United had been beaten - dismantled - 2-0. "I couldn't fault how we played," he said. His analysis staggered all present and had fans fuming on social media.
Ultimately, the job and the task of rebuilding an ageing team that Ferguson squeezed the best out of proved too much for him.
Convincing Wayne Rooney to commit his future to United was one accomplishment. He also successfully established talented winger Adnan Januzaj as a first-team squad member. On a playing level, he achieved little else.
With long balls, ponderous attacking play and a defensive mindset, Moyes' United were incomparable to the teams of the Ferguson era that wowed fans with their dynamism. Under Moyes, the team just didn't play attacking football.
By the end of his reign, it looked like the players had lost faith in his methods. Danny Welbeck reportedly wants to quit Old Trafford; Robin van Persie has complained about teammates running into his space; Patrice Evra has been poor all season.
His only off-season purchase, Marouane Fellaini, has been a major disappointment, and Moyes' other big-name recruit, Juan Mata, gave the team yet another No 10 with Shinji Kagawa and Rooney already there.
He has hardly proven he's worth the club-record transfer fee of £37.1 million (HK$483.8 million).
Real Madrid coach and former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said: "I feel sorry for David Moyes, but that's the life of a football coach. Sometimes it doesn't go well for you and you are sacked ... I am a little surprised because Manchester United don't normally do this."
Former United captain Bryan Robson said: "It comes as a little bit of a surprise because I think everybody in the country knows that Manchester United give the managers a real chance to prove themselves."
Former United Manager Ron Atkinson said: "Moyes is a good football manager. He's proven it at Preston and at Everton. David Moyes will be back, make no mistake."
Meanwhile, the Manchester United Supporters Trust's chairman, Sean Bones, said the manner of the sacking was a "PR shambles". "The story leaked before David Moyes [had] been spoken to," he said. "There was no dignity or class … about it."
Former United and England striker Michael Owen said the club may have had no choice but to act now.
"With the summer looming and a huge transfer kitty available, United had to be 100 per cent [certain] Moyes was the right man," Owen tweeted.
When Ferguson left the club, he told fans: "Your job now is to get behind our new manager". Less than a year on, the search for another has started.
Associated Press. Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Reuters