MANCHESTER, England — It’s some feat to turn one of the world’s most storied and valuable sports brands into a mere also-ran in the space of 10 months.
That’s what David Moyes managed to achieve at Manchester United — and there was only going to be one outcome.
Overwhelmed by the giant task of replacing Alex Ferguson, Britain’s greatest ever manager, Moyes was fired by United on Tuesday after exhausting the patience and losing the support of the club’s American owners, the Glazer family.
The 50-year-old Scot was less than a season into a six-year contract but the Glazers had seen enough. So, too, had most of United’s fans and most likely its slew of big sponsors, with the team languishing in seventh place in the Premier League and guaranteed to miss out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 19 years.
That’s unacceptable for a club that expects to win trophies year in and year out.
Exactly a year after clinching a record-extending 20th English championship, United dismissed Moyes during a meeting at its training ground in the morning. The news was released in a terse, two-line statement on the club’s website — a far cry from the fanfare of Moyes‘ hiring last summer.
“Manchester United has announced that David Moyes has left the club,” the statement said. “The club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.”
In the 27-year, trophy-laden tenure of Ferguson, United stood out as a pillar of stability, continuity and patience. No more.
Ryan Giggs, a club great who was on Moyes‘ coaching staff and is still a member of the playing squad at the age of 40, will take temporary control until a permanent replacement is found. The 40-year-old Welsh midfielder, who came up through the United youth ranks alongside David Beckham, has spent 23 years at Old Trafford. He has won every trophy in the game at club level, making him United’s most decorated player.
Louis van Gaal, who will leave his position as Netherlands coach after the World Cup in Brazil and has previously coached Barcelona and Bayern Munich, is the favorite to succeed Moyes on a full-time basis.
A person with knowledge of the situation at United said the club would be seeking an experienced manager and a short list was being put together with a view toward an appointment being made quickly. Giggs was not being considered for the full-time position.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club was yet to announce the moves.
A surprise choice to many because of his lack of top-level experience, Moyes was hired by United after 11 relatively successful years at fellow Premier League team Everton. He failed to cope with the enormity of taking one of the most coveted jobs in the sport.
United is 23 points behind leader Liverpool and has slumped to a string of humiliating losses, including home and away to fierce rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Moyes hoped he’d be given at least a second season to turn things around, just as Ferguson was given time after a slow start to his reign.