End of an Error: Moyes Sacked Too Soon?

In what has proven to be the ironic nail in the coffin, David Moyes’ loss to Everton has become his last game as Manchester United manager. But is 9 months at the helm of last year’s title winners really enough to decide whether he’s up to the task?

With reports swirling in all the major national papers yesterday that Moyes was shown the door at United having fallen out of favour with the Glazer family owners of the club, executives were ‘refusing to deny’ that they had sacked their manager. The news was instead confirmed today.

Ryan Giggs has been drafted in as temporary replacement for the managerial position, with talk turning to who will take over in the long run. Jurgen Klopp, current manager of Borussia Dortmund and with just a year remaining on his contract is the current favourite. Louis Van Gaal has also been linked with the club, having stated that he will no longer manage Holland after the World Cup takes place this summer. There’s even an outside chance of Sir Alex Ferguson stepping in to take charge.

Having managed Everton for eleven years, Moyes’ less than one year at a new club can hardly be deemed substantial in perspective. Certainly getting rid of the backroom staff that were present for numerous trophies previously at the club can now be considered not such a wise move in hindsight.

Regardless, surely less than one season in charge of such a high profile club in previous years is not enough time? Despite their performances in recent weeks, Moyes has certainly had ups as well as downs. Their holding of Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw in the Champions League a few weeks ago certainly sticks in memory.

As part of a growing trend of sacking the manager of a football club when it all starts to go wrong, Moyes is certainly one of the earliest to go. As it stands though, the shortest ever managerial reign goes to Leroy Rosenior who managed Torquay for 10 minutes in 2007, as he agreed to be manager just before a takeover took place where the new executives decided to bring in their own manager instead.

Chelsea are proving to be one of the teams that lead such a trend. Since Mourinho left the club in 2007, they have appointed no less than eight managers in just under six years, until Mourinho’s return before the beginning of this season. Rather ironically, Mourinho was more keen on the Manchester United job than returning to Chelsea, but United decided to act on Ferguson’s wishes that Moyes would be his successor.

Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

In that regard, following in the footsteps of someone who had that much of a successful career at one club would always be a tough act to follow. But it doesn’t seem like United’s style to sack someone who’s only been in charge long enough to make benefit of two transfer windows. It’s still a team that Moyes has inherited, with nothing that really made it his own. Everton’s win over the Manchester club at the weekend was notable as the majority of Everton players were ones that he had brought to that club when he was in charge. There was little evidence of that at Manchester United.

Even more concerning is that of the games that Moyes was in charge, his win percentage was higher than that of Sir Alex Ferguson during their respective first seasons in charge. Realistically however, this speaks a deal more about the owners of the club than the manager. When Sir Alex first took over the club nearly 28 years ago, clubs weren’t in the trend of sacking the manager if they sniffed a relegation battle or a poor run of performances. Arsene Wenger certainly speaks for that, despite the slowly growing tide of fans turning against him.

There is growing talk that Sir Alex should apologise not only to the fans of the club – but also to Moyes himself. It’s quite apparent that his style of management didn’t work at a club like  United. It’s rare that managers decide who should succeed them, but given Sir Alex’s stature in football it was probably wise to do as he said.

What’s certain now though is that whoever succeeds Moyes at Manchester United is going to have a far easier time eclipsing his work, than Moyes did of Sir Alex’s record.

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