For and against: Man Utd would have been better off sticking with David Moyes
With disappointment still rife at Old Trafford, our writers debate how an extended spell for the Scot might have worked out...
Jack Green | The argument for
David Moyes’ side are trailing at Hull on the final day of the season, in need of a point to earn a place in the Champions League.
Ross Barkley picks the ball up and sprays it to the marauding Seamus Coleman on the right wing.
The Irishman swings in a cross, and Marouane Fellaini – in his favourite playmaker-cum-target-man role – is there to nod it home and secure a fourth-place finish for the second consecutive year.
For Manchester United.
A meagre feat, perhaps, for the most successful club in Premier League history.
But one they would take right now.
A consistent top-four spot could have been a reality over the past few years, had United stuck with their values and the manager chosen by Sir Alex Ferguson.
The club cherished stability during the Scotsman’s 27 years in charge at Old Trafford, even after he finished 11th or below in three of his first four seasons.
They were quick to ditch that principle, however, at the first sign of trouble under his successor.
The squad inherited by Moyes was poor.
That two Champions League-winning managers have struggled since his departure proves as much.
It was an extraordinary achievement, then, that Ferguson had managed to win the Premier League with such an imbalanced group of players.
Louis van Gaal could only guide that squad to one top-four spot in two seasons, despite spending vast sums of money on new recruits, while United are currently sixth in Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge.
So Moyes’ seventh-place finish in 2013/14 looks like less of an anomaly now, and his years at Everton prove that, given time and the chance to shape his own side, he consistently overachieves.
He finished inside the top seven in eight of his 11 years at Goodison Park, took them to the Champions League for the first time ever, and did so on a frustratingly tight budget.
Like United without Ferguson, Everton have been in decline since he left.
So while Moyes was never the most exciting Manchester United manager, he was the one they needed after Ferguson.
He may have struggled to make the kind of marquee signings that United supporters are accustomed to but players like Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay proved that big names do not always promise big performances.
And while his style of play was never particularly fun to watch, it was no worse than anything served up by Van Gaal and Mourinho since.
The club are, in truth, no closer to winning the Premier League now than when he left.
Adam Drury | The argument against
There is some serious revisionism at play if David Moyes is suddenly considered the manager Manchester United needed all along.
The truth is that the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson was badly damaging.
The Scot left an underwhelming squad in the hands of a club that was always going to suffer without such a dominant personality.
That – so far – two vastly more experienced and silverware-laden managers have failed to adequately arrest the inevitable subsequent decline is hardly evidence for Moyes’ ability ever to do so.
Louis van Gaal oversaw a disappointing two seasons – but did, at least, deliver one Champions League campaign, as well as an FA Cup win last season.
Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, attracted Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Old Trafford over the summer.
Would that pair – and, indeed, the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Angel di Maria and Daley Blind – have arrived at Old Trafford under Moyes’ stewardship?
The current Sunderland boss’ only true high-profile signing was Juan Mata, who was desperate for a move from Chelsea.
He was knocked back by Cesc Fabregas and Gareth Bale.
Moyes could never have accumulated a squad as good as Mourinho’s current one.
The former Everton manager’s season at Old Trafford was disintegrating so badly, too, that he didn’t even last until the end of the campaign.
A caretaker spell from Ryan Giggs was deemed preferable to the decision-makers, of whom Ferguson was included.
The 74-year-old has even since admitted that United would have been interested in talking to Van Gaal, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola had they been available at the time Moyes was appointed.
Even the Old Trafford dugout seemed to dwarf Moyes, who simply did not have the authority to deal with everything that comes with managing Manchester United.
By the time he was let go, it was simply a response to what fans, neutrals and experts all knew.
United had no choice but to move on then, and there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that they might have recovered beyond their current position under his governance.