Being the immediate successor of Sir Alex Ferguson was never going to be an easy job but David Moyes’ tenure as the “Chosen One” has already been brought to an end after a troubled ten months at Old Trafford. Having failed to qualify for the Champions League, and even a consolation prize of the Europa League looking in doubt, and having failed to win a trophy, it’s hardly surprising.
However, what was more worrying for Manchester United was that performances (as well as results) had dramatically declined. Having watched them many times this season under Moyes, they have been unconvincing more often than not. Actually this is nothing new, many times under Fergie there were some equally dismal displays. The only difference being that under Fergie they had the uncanny knack of turning a drab goalless draw into a last minute 1-0 win (whether that be with the help of “Fergie time” or a dubious late penalty in front of the Stretford End or not). However, there have been times this season when United have never looked even remotely likely of finding the net, let alone winning games. The Everton game on Sunday, which proved to be Moyes’ last in charge, summed up just how toothless United have been under his management. Other than Tim Howard’s save to deny Wayne Rooney at the end, I can’t recall United creating another reasonable chance.
As Moyes’ was quick to point out in his post-match interview, United dominated possession. But possession is meaningless if it leads to nothing. As I’ve just said, United created barely anything in 90 minutes. A lot of this possession was very one-paced (slow) and predictable whilst being in front of Everton defence and therefore very easy to deal with. Here’s another statistic from that game; Everton scored two goals, United scored none. That’s the only thing that counts and determines who gets the three points. Therefore, Everton deserved the three points. Despite having far less possession, they were effective and dangerous with the possession they had. United weren’t.
Every time United have come up against any of the top clubs, they’ve looked significantly second best and it’s become blindingly obvious just how much they’ve been left behind. Their most painful defeats this season, which have triggered much soul-searching at Old Trafford, have been against their most deadly rivals. Liverpool, after spending years in United’s shadow, completely blew them away on their own patch. Their noisy neighbours Manchester City dismantled them home and away in a similar fashion to two seasons ago (on both occasions the aggregate score was 7-1).
As United have been struggling in 7th place in the table for much of the season, it’s also been hard to see any way forward for the club. Whatever philosophies Moyes was trying to implement, they weren’t working and United had the look of a team that were struggling to adapt to a new manager. Make no mistake about it, having undergone a change in management for the first time since the Premier League began, this was always going to be a transition season and challenging for the title was always going to be unlikely and not to be expected. However, United have been miles off the standard set by the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City this season and now it’s looking like taking a few more years to repair. In truth, it has been a disaster.
Brendan Rodgers looks set to win the Premier League in only his second season in charge of Liverpool, having finished 7th last season. However, even last season, it was evident how Liverpool were altering their style and this season it has come good for them. Really good. Other than his plans to spend big in the summer, there never appeared to be such a contingency plan in the works with Moyes. Maybe if he was given a bit more time, like his predecessor, he might have turned it around but with every defeat it started looking less and less likely. The reality is that United are now guaranteed their lowest points finish in the Premier League era. The quality of the football has been way below par and Moyes wasn’t really making enough of an impact to suggest that next season was going to be any different.