David Moyes - Where did it all go wrong?
By Liam Canning
David Moyes seems to have overcome his fears of being the manager of such a high-valued club, that being, Manchester United. It seems that he’s been engulfed by all of its wealth and history that David Moyes couldn’t even get a word in edge ways.
It started in August. It wasn’t a bad month—winning his first trophy, the Community Shield. Yet, people wouldn’t call it a trophy, not for his personal trophy cabinet at least. It was down to Sir Alex Ferguson’s work that got Manchester United to that position, and all Moyes had to do was to overcome Wigan, which they did. Brilliant.
The first two fixtures of Moyes’ tenure weren’t the worst start he could have wished for – playing Swansea away is a difficult game but Moyes certainly overcame that and grabbed four goals and went on to win the match 4-1 in a brilliant show from Danny Welbeck.
Next came Chelsea, a dreary 0-0 draw. But it wasn’t just a draw that was poignant in this game; it was the heightened scale and X-Factor of the game. Jose Mourinho’s managing his first big game of the season after returing to his beloved Chelsea, and Moyes’ first big game in charge of United. Anti-climactic is a word you could use to describe this one. A good point for Moyes’ troopers nonetheless.
September and October brought some fascinating games for United, which started United’s campaign in the Champions League and the Capitol One Cup. Those two months gave the fans and critiques great insight to what would be a terrible couple of months for the newly appointed manager.
Miserable losses to important rivals Manchester City and Liverpool put early doubt into the minds of the United fans who asked themselves if ‘it’s going to be a bad season?’ or ‘is it going to be a really bad season?’
However, it wasn’t all so unattractive and horrible for the United fans. Good wins against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League and Liverpool in the Capital One Cup provided some sort of hope and faith.
November came and went in a short time it seemed with another inconsistent run of results for the Red Devils. Three wins and two draws from five seems to be a regular pattern this season and it all started back in November. Good convincing wins against Arsenal and Bayer Leverkusen seemed all fine and dandy for the Red’s boss but then disappointing draws against Cardiff and Real Sociedad knocked the United fans down a peg once again. Hope? Faith? These words seemed to be running thin in the heart of Manchester.
December became a month of happiness and joy with the eager anticipation of Christmas. The first three weeks of December suggested otherwise for any fan, but it soon picked up.
It got better for United fans with a string of six wins under their belt. Could this be their turning point of the season? Is this the time Moyes really gets going and can challenge for the title? A little too late? These were the questions on the lips of certain critiques and pundits out there.
Losses to Newcastle and Everton and a draw to Tottenham did not give anyone confidence in this month of so called “joy”, especially the loss to Newcastle at Old Trafford.Their home form wearing thin and their “invincibility cloak” and “fear-factor” seemed to have gone down the drain.
No team in the Premier League feared them anymore. They had lost the precious emotion that gave them the upper hand at Old Trafford. It was fear. Fear of 65,000 Manchester United fans breathing down your neck. The fear of Alex Ferguson. The fear of being embarrassed by the amount of goals scored. It had vanished. Teams favoured to play at Old Trafford than they did at their stadium. From that month onwards, the club’s prestigious allure had disappeared and they became the butt of everyone’s jokes, especially, Moyes.
Into the New Year—a year of hope? Of course not. Playing New Year’s Day against Tottenham at Old Trafford off the back of some really positive results. This could be the turning point of their slow season. However, that was not the case—losing to Tottenham at Old Trafford consecutively was not brilliant. It wasn’t inevitable, United fans across the world all believed that this could be the change of the season. They were wrong.
It went from worse to diabolical for the under-fire manager Moyes. Losing to Tottenham followed up by crashing out of the FA Cup to Swansea in dramatic style did not bode well with the fans. Here began early starts on social media of, “#MoyesOut” and what not. It just carried on escalating from there.
January went from bad to worse as a double loss to Chelsea and Sunderland got the fans of the respective club rowdy and starting to think that a top four position was out of reach. A loss to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup should never have happened. If it wasn’t for Sir Alex Ferguson’s choice of appointing Moyes I don’t think he would have been the manager for much longer.
February: The month of love? I wouldn’t deem it as love but then again, for United fans it did certainly get better. Much better. However, it didn’t start well after a petty loss to Stoke City and a dismal draw to Fulham put doubt into the fans’ minds. The pure anger came bombarding Moyes’ way even more vigorously than before and one player in particular, Tom Cleverley. Fairly or un-fairly is of a personal opinion that differs with every fan.
It soon picked up, maybe the turning point of the season some people would say, the day that Manchester United took on Crystal Palace—that prominent side. It was a good 2-0 win and it was comfortable but the important factor was that was the game that gave the players the confidence they needed.
Round 16 of the Champions League shouldn’t have been as challenging as it was against Olympiacos, a team that looks good because they’re in the Greek League but in Europe were the worst team left in the competition. Although, as United were United, we made it hard for ourselves to progress after a 2-0 away loss in Greece. It was an abysmal performance and one of the worst I’ve ever witnessed.
West Brom came and went in a flash, and was a reassuring result for Moyes’ boys as they zoomed to victory with a comforting 3-0 win over the Baggies. One of the biggest games of the season was next on the cards for Man United and Moyes’ side—Liverpool. United’s rivals were in great form going into this game and were looking to triumph at the top of the table.
United as usual, win a game or two then lose a very important match and this result didn’t let the formula down. Liverpool raced to victory after they were awarded three very sloppy penalties which two of them shouldn’t have been awarded. United never looked like they were threatening the Liverpool’s defence.
The beating by Liverpool was the catalyst of United’s turn-around season, is it on the up?
The Olympiacos return leg was much more spirited for Man United as the crowd go fully behind the team and Moyes entered the beloved ground with a huge roar. It was a night of promise and it sure didn’t fail to surprise us. United played well and apart from a close shock, they pulled through and claimed the 3-0 win that they needed. Off to the quarter-finals.
Three days later, and we’re back to the Premier League – West Ham awaited us at Upton Park and surprisingly, we turned up. Wayne Rooney produced a spectacular, Beckham-esque scorcher that roared us into the lead. Coincidentally, Beckham was in the crowd with his sons watch in amazement.
At Upton Park, we finally saw the attacking quality of; Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa, their link-up play was on show and I’m speaking on behalf of the United fans, we were impressed. Very impressed.
United went on to win that game 2-0 against a mediocre West Ham side. Still not enough to change the opinions of those against Moyes to supporting him.
Next came Man City, a real test after the “breakthrough” against Olympiacos, could this be the real turning point of David Moyes’ tenure at Man United? No, of course it isn’t, within a minute Man City opened the scoring through some silky play. United failed to turn up to the game and lost 3-0. A poor show, but something that the United fans are used to under this new manager.
Just four days and United were at home again to Aston Villa, a team that was out of the relegation battle and didn’t really have much to play for. But, surprisingly, or not – United went behind in the opening minutes from a free-kick. Typical.
However, the United players showed some signs of desire and integrity with their resilience of losing to Norwich and brought the score back to 1-1 and went on to win the game 4-1. It was a good show of attacking prowess, however, United fans didn’t want to get too sucked into the “turning point” of Moyes’ career as he has not once proven he can produce such a result against a “top” team.
United were drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League Quarter-Finals, a tie of huge promise for Moyes who could put all doubt of the respected doubters of his managerial abilities and to overturn those to believe in him. What a coup this could be for him, to knock out the reigning holders? How brilliant, how fitting it all sounded.
The first leg began in Manchester, the “fortress” that had gone beneath them this season. However, through the veterans of Vidić and Ferdinand, they stayed in the tie and fought hard for their respectable 1-1 draw. However, some will say that they deserved more. They deserved to win 3-1.
United fans started to get excited, a huge accolade could be made here, a dreadful League season, yes, but it could all be so different if Moyes could lead them to victory. A sense of false hope entered the vulnerable hearts of Manchester United followers. They latched onto any sense of hope that they could pluck out of thin air. Unfortunately, it was a fairy-tale that crushed their dreams.
In between the Bayern matches, United had to go to Newcastle to face a deflated Newcastle team. To grow to their sense of optimism ahead of the enthralling Bayern match, United won convincingly for once and added the sense of hope that a miracle could be on the cards. Was it meant to be?
Off to Germany, the away fans said – as they took their luggage and travelled many a border to the Allianz Arena to await this highly anticipated, mouth-watering encounter between Bayern Munich, current champions, and Manchester United, current flops.
The first half was ever so quiet, nothing really gained or lost for United, they hadn’t conceded which was a sign of promise, but they hadn’t scored which set the nerves trembling. However, all they needed was one moment of magic and they would surely think that the momentum would carry them through.
To the United fans’ delight, they got their moment of superlative magic, a moment that was their highlight of their miserable season, a moment so encapsulating that their mouths dropped and they couldn’t tell the difference between dreams and reality, a moment so stupendous that twenty seconds later of them not watching the TV because they were still celebrating Bayern Munich go down the other end and score. Yes, they score.
United fans couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. What had happened? The pure excitement that we had just witnessed from a spectacular Patrice Evra goal had just been completely cancelled out by Mandžukić’s goal. It was ridiculous. It summed up United’s season, staring at them blank in the face.
It was in fact Evra’s goal that awoken Bayern Munich and they proved to be the stronger side for the remaining 30 minutes and went onto score two more goals completely killing off the tie. And for those mere 22 seconds, United fans believed their own false sense of hope, a sense of hope they’ve taken for granted for the past 26 years.
United fans roared to social media to pass on abuse to David Moyes, the Munich loss in fact reimbursed the criticisms of his tactics as they notched up the mistreatment of the “clueless” manager.
An 11 day gap was a nice lay-off for the United manager as it meant that he couldn’t gain any more criticisms from the fans. However, the fans grew restless of this gap and were surprisingly looking forward to the away trip to Goodison Park.
It was Moyes’ first return to Goodison Park since he left Everton and he was welcomed back with boo’s and groans from the Everton fans which was disrespectful after all that he did for the club, however – the game commenced and to the away fans’ surprise, United started promisingly.
Not so surprisingly, United gave this momentum up for waves of attacks from Everton, they gained all of the momentum and pushed forward, penetrating United’s weak defence. Eventually, something showed for Everton’s persistence – they gained a penalty after Phil Jones’ irrational handball. Leighton Baines kindly slotted it home.
United had all the possession and out-passed Everton, however, this is football and it’s a game of momentum and making sure you punish your opponents and Everton made sure they did. Every time Everton dispossessed United’s bland attack they jumped on a counter-attack and looked threatening from all parts of the pitch. Their second goal sure came quick from a counter-attack and a lovely Mirallas finish.
The game finished 2-0 to Everton and it was once again disappointing for the United fans and David Moyes. United lacked; desire, integrity, passion, inspiration, penetration. I could go on and on, they didn’t turn up and not one player on the pitch deserved any sort of rating. It’s abysmal and if Moyes is to stay on I do hope he corrects this and gives the players a reality check.
It was the 21st April 2014 and rumours intensified about the “imminent” sacking of David Moyes. It was to a surprise that it came so quickly after the Everton game, but in the long-run it really wasn’t a surprise to see that he was going to go.
It was a sad day as many United fans, including myself, reflected back over Moyes’ long and heated tenure at the helm of United. I think it’s unfair to rule this year’s failings all down to Moyes, the players have got to take some responsibility of their performances. To put it bluntly – they underperformed.
So, that’s it. Moyes’ 10 months of being in charge abruptly ends and that’s it. No long-winded approach, he’s gone. Forever.
Who’s next for United? Well, Klopp, Simeone, Ancelotti, Mourinho and Van Gaal are all linked for the job but I think it’s a two horse race between Van Gaal and Ancelotti. Van Gaal I think is the perfect man for the job, and his philosophies can easily be applied to United.
Here’s to the next 10 months and let’s hope it brings United fans more joy than the last. To Moyes, I’m sure he’ll succeed somewhere else such as Newcastle or Spurs, or even abroad. And to whom ever succeeds Moyes, good luck to you too. It’s not an easy job.