With long balls, ponderous attacking play and a defensive mindset, Moyes‘ United was incomparable to the teams of the Ferguson era that wowed fans across the world with their adventure and dynamism. Moyes wasn’t averse to fielding attacking players - the team just didn’t play attacking football.
United looked most comfortable under Moyes in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich, when it defended deep, relied on spirit and work rate and looked dangerous on the counterattack. It was very much a Moyes-type performance from his Everton days.
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 openly complained about teammates running into his space; Patrice Evra has been poor this season but hardly got off on the right foot with Moyes after the new manager courted fellow left backs Leighton Baines and Fabio Coentrao last summer.
His only offseason 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. Often marginalized onto the wing, Mata hasn’t had the desired effect yet.
Chastening early season defeats were perhaps to be expected in the new era. But they have just kept on coming - United has lost 10 of its 22 matches in 2014, among them embarrassing losses to Olympiakos, Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton that has sent fans’ frustrations beyond tipping point.
And it wasn’t just the defeats, it was the manner of them.
There has been no sign of improvement, either, and that’s what ultimately turned the tide against Moyes in the board room.