After what will be Manchester United’s worst season in at least 23 years, the club fired its first-year manager David Moyes on Tuesday. Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor leaves without securing a UEFA Champions League spot for the club for the first time since the creation of the Premier League.
"The Club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role,” the club wrote in a one-sentence statement announcing Moyes' dismissal.
Welsh player-coach Ryan Giggs will remain in charge of the club until the end of the season, although Moyes’ ultimate replacement has not yet been sought. It’s unlikely that Giggs would be that man, as he has no coaching experience and does not possess the required UEFA Pro coaching license to manage a top-division team in England.
The Telegraph first reported the possibility of Moyes’ removal Monday morning, with Mark Ogden reporting that the Glazer family, Manchester United’s American owners, “are known to be hugely disappointed by the team’s performances this season and regard the increasing likelihood of a seventh place finish as substantially below expectations, despite the acceptance that Ferguson’s departure would lead to turbulence this campaign.”
In fact, the team’s performance under Moyes has been the worst in United’s Premier League tenure. Until this season, the club never finished outside the league’s top three places.
The results see Moyes, whose staff included U.S. national team goalkeeper coach Chris Woods, sacked as the team’s shortest-serving manager (51 matches in all competitions) since Walter Crickmer’s tenure from 1937 to 1945. After Crickmer resigned, Matt Busby took over and laid the groundwork for Ferguson’s tenure, winning five league titles in the process.
However, between Busby and Ferguson’s regimes, the club went through six managers (and 17 years) without winning a top-flight title or any European honors, being relegated to the old Second Division before bouncing straight back up.
If that history is any indication, the next Manchester United manager could be also be in for a difficult tenure, only compounded by what is now the club’s global expectations.