April 22nd, 2014. The day the world changed. The day a darling Scottish butterfly died a fluttering, sputtering death inside the Old Trafford dugout, irrevocably shaping Manchester United's still-to-get-gloomier future.
But, what if, and bare with me here, David Moyes had stayed. What if, instead of just 10 months in charge, Moyes was allowed to see out his full six-year contract which - coincidence! - is set to finally expire on July 1st, 2019.
What if the 'Chosen One' was chosen to be just that. What if, instead of dismissively thanking him for the 'hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role' in an exit statement, they placed their faith in those qualities, and allowed them some sufficient time to come to the fore.
How much worse off United be? Would they be worse off at all? Let's find out.
Here is your Moyesian Utopia:
So, Moyes was not only kept in the job, but handed a public vote of confidence by the club's board, which declared in no uncertain terms:
"We made a commitment to David by handing him a six-year deal last summer, and we're not just going to go back on it because a few results didn't go our way. We're not that kind of club. We never will be. We do not hire managers for short-term gains and then fire them after three years, let alone one, once they've crashed and burned. You can keep your Jose Mourinho's. We are not Chelsea.
"No, at Manchester United, we strive for long-term greatness. For stability. For legacy. That is why we are placing our undying trust in David to guide us through this tricky spell - and that's all this is: tricky - and return the Red Devils to their rightful place atop the English game.
"With this goal in mind, we hereby rescind the contract we gave to Ed Woodward last summer, handing full control of his successor over to David. *Holds finger to ear* And, with great pleasure, we are happy to announce that David has disbanded with the position altogether, deciding to instead offer Tim Cahill the role of sporting director, who will take up the role following the World Cup. #TimIn
"At this juncture, belief is paramount, and we can draw from many moments in our history that attest to this. Did the lads stop believing in 1999? No. How could they? They trained at The Cliff, FFS. Anyway, we won't stop believing today. Long Live David Moyes! The King in the North!"
So, with David's position secure, the end of the season ends in a similar fashion as it did under Ryan Giggs, save for the loss to Sunderland, which was a thumping 3-0 win courtesy of a Danny Welbeck hat-trick. Good player that kid, Moyes thinks. Should bear that in mind this summer.
And so the summer approaches, and once again rumours of a Wayne Rooney departure are rife. Moyes still has a semblance of faith in his former protege, but knows the market is shrinking. So, after Skyping Cahill in Brazil, he heads back to Goodison Park, and manages to wrangle Everton into offering £45m for the England captain. The search for a replacement is on.
Radamel Falcao's face is plastered across the back pages, but Moyes is thinking closer to home, and Cahill reckons the Colombian's injury is worse than it sounds, preferring the cut of Diego Costa's jib. But would he work alongside Dat Guy Welbz? Probably not. And he's not homegrown. A compromise is needed.
And then it clicks.
Tottenham and Arsenal have been sniffing around Welbz for some time, just desperate to land the golden child. The Gunners have offered £18m, but Moyes wants a bit more buck for his bang, so he asks Cahill - who is now back from Brazil and has been confirmed into his position with an announcement video depicting him beating a corner flag in a 12-round boxing match - to scope out Spurs, who reluctantly offer young up-and-comer Harry Kane as part of a player plus £20m deal.
He adds £15m of the Wazza money to that £20m, and tempts Costa away from Atletico. Chelsea panic, and opt for Falcao instead. Moyes now has £30m of the Rooney money left to spend, plus roughly *checks notes* £175m in the coffers. Thing is, being the pragmatist that he is, he doesn't need all that dough.
Fans clamour for the £32m signing of Southampton prodigy Luke Shaw but, using his Scottish connections, Dave plucks wee Andrew Robertson from Dundee United, after outbidding Hull City with a cool £3.5m sum.
After that yawn-inducing signing, pressure mounts to sign a marquee name. Fans flood the comment sections of every post from the club's official account with 'Announce Di Maria!!' tweets, but Moyes stands firm.
Why sign a losing World Cup finalist, when you can get a man who won it, and did so by stopping the GOAT himself, Lionel Messi. £45m later, Mats Hummels is in. In the aftermath of this, Phil Jones is quietly loaned back to Blackburn, with an obligatory buy clause of £10m.
Daley Blind is still signed - because who could resist that hair? - but a midfield enforcer is required and, just as the Ander Herrera talks are getting tasty, lightning strikes.
During some under-the-radar conversations with young goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, it is brought to the Aussies' attention that the Serbian has a promising older brother by the name of Sergej with him at Vojvodina. After watching the midfielder's tape, Tim and Dave are convinced he's special, and see the brothers as their generation's Fabio-Rafael feel good sibling story.
A deal is sealed, with Vojvodina accepting £4m for both.
Moyes thinks that's all the business required, but Cahill convinces him that, in light of his defensive leanings in the Angel Di Maria vs Hummels debate, a winger is still necessary. Luckily, Timmy C has just the man. In fact, he was on the wrong end of one his goals a month or so prior at the World Cup and, at the final whistle, was able to weasel out the fact that he was unhappy in his current surroundings.
The man in question was, naturally, Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez. One £31.8m bid later, and Arsenal were outmuscled. The Chilean was on his way to Old Trafford.
And so the 2014/15 season begins. Immediately, a number of things become clear: Kane is a guaranteed 20-goal-a-season striker, Costa is perfect for the Prem, Falcao is not, Hummels is the ideal replacement for Nemanja Vidic, Milinkovic-Savic needs time and Sanchez is a world-beater on his day.
As for Robertson, well, Moyes is unsure at first, but then he speaks to Hatem Ben Arfa, who claims to have seen him training on a beach in Brittany that summer, and vows that the kid is going places.
After a slightly shaky start, United romp home to the title with a whopping 99 points - the spirit of '99 trends on Twitter for two months - with the highlight coming in a 3-0 humbling of runners-up Chelsea when, during the celebrations for his hat-trick, Costa removed the ball from the net and thumped it high up in the air, where, after some time, it landed on Jose Mourinho's pinky finger.
Bone was broken.
And so began United's return to domination. After two second-place finishes with Chelsea, Mourinho moves to Manchester City, with predictably mixed results. This forces Pep Guardiola to stay at Bayern Munich, which in turn keeps Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, because 1) he savours the rivalry and 2) why would you swap Marco Reus for Luke Shaw's Liverpool?
Two further titles in the next three years follow - with City winning one under Mourinho in 2016/17 after signing Romelu Lukaku, before finishing 10th the next year and losing their core - before, in 2019, a month before his contract is set to expire (though a 10-year renewal is in the works), the Champions League is finally won once more, with a 2-1 victory against Pep Guardiola's Bayern.
The spirit of '99 trends for the rest of time, and Sir David Moyes rules until retirement.