David Moyes’ imperfect storm: From the Chosen One to the Sacked One

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Story highlights

David Moyes is dismissed after less than a year in charge of English league titleholder

The Scot was personally endorsed by outgoing manager Alex Ferguson

Moyes' United slipped to 11th league defeat against his former club Everton on Sunday

United will not feature in European Champions League for first time since 1995

CNN  — 

Not so much the Chosen One, more the Disastrous One.

From the get go, David Moyes struggled in getting to grips with the task of managing Manchester United and less than a year after succeeding the legendary Alex Ferguson, the Scot has been sacked just 10 months into a six-year contract.

It’s an old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day – but it did burn in seven nights.

With that in mind, here are the big mistakes made by Moyes during his turbulent Old Trafford tenure with the club now left fighting all sorts of fires both off and on the pitch.

Marouane Fellaini

Less the elephant in the room, more the uncomfortable, luxuriously-haired disaster in the United midfield.

The Belgian international followed Moyes to Manchester from Everton in September 2013 and he signaled the new manager’s first foray into the transfer market. It smacked of a toddler reaching for its comfort blanket.

Fellaini’s £27.5 million price tag always looked on the large side and it has only inflated with each of his underwhelming performances.

The nadir of the 27-year-old’s debut campaign at Old Trafford arrived earlier this month, during an abject showing in a European Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.

Spanish newspaper AS was so unimpressed with Fellaini’s showing in the 1-1 draw that it refused to give him a mark in the player ratings section of its match report.

With a new manager likely to arrive with fresh ideas, it could be a matter of time before Fellaini follows Moyes out of the door.

Local laughing stock

United fans hate losing to Manchester City. And they despise defeat to Liverpool.

Losing to one of those two teams is unacceptable, losing to both twice in the same season was previously unthinkable.

Somehow Moyes’ team managed the unthinkable as the Scot presided over four defeats in four matches against United’s two fiercest rivals, with an aggregate score of 11-1.

Even worse, Liverpool, the club Ferguson successfully knocked off their “f***ing perch,” look set to win a first league title in 24 years, while United have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995.

As for City, once referred to by Ferguson as United’s “noisy neighbors,” the blue half of Manchester is currently 17 points ahead of the red half after also winning the League Cup final.

Last season Ferguson’s team wrapped up a 20th league title for the club, finishing 11 points clear of City in second place.

Under Moyes, United never looked like troubling the top of the table.

So no surprise then that the joke doing the rounds on Tuesday after Moyes’ dismissal was that police had been called to Old Trafford to stop Liverpool and City fans protesting over his sacking.

Tactics? What tactics?!

Easy and straightforward to defend against.

That was how Fulham, who had lost eight of their previous 11 Premier League games prior to a 2-2 draw against United in February, described the tactics employed by Moyes.

After the match, United were damned by statistics.

Moyes’ men flung 81 crosses into the Fulham penalty area, evidence – his critics suggested – that the United manager was a tactical neanderthal.

After watching Ferguson’s team tear into the opposition for over two decades, fans found this “back to basics” brand of football hard to stomach.

Moyes’ reported focus on fitness and conditioning in training also backfired.

Rather than looking energetic on the pitch, United too often resembled the battery-powered bunny beaten to the line by its Duracell-fueled rival.

Other brands of battery are available. So are other managers.

Problem players

Moyes inherited a squad which had just won the Premier League title at a canter, but he struggled to get the best out of stars like Wayne Rooney.

Tying Rooney down to a new five-and-a-half year deal in February, rumored to be worth an eye-watering $500,000 per week, was seen as something of a coup by the club.

But the truth is that Rooney has rarely looked worthy of such a lavish investment. The 28-year-old may have scored 15 Premier League goals this season, but too often he has put in displays well below his dazzling best.

The signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea was supposed to add flair and purpose to United’s attack, but the Spaniard has only shown flashes of his undoubted talent since arriving in January.

People joked that giving Moyes the present of Mata was like giving your granddad an IPad for Christmas.

Moyes’ failure to coax the best out of these players, and gifted technicians like Shinji Kagawa, further contributed to his demise.

Small-club mentality

“I didn’t get the chance to say yes or no,” Moyes said in July. “As you can imagine, the blood drained from my face. I was shocked.”

He might sound like someone describing death by lethal injection, but this is the tale of how the Scot became United manager.

“It was a strange situation,” he added. “I had no idea whatsoever until Sir Alex gave me a call and asked me to come to his house.

“I was expecting him to say, ‘I’m going to take one of your players’ or something else. I went in and the first thing he said to me was, ‘I’m retiring’.

“I said, ‘When?’ because he was never retiring, and he said, ‘Next week!’ His next words were, ‘You’re the next Manchester United manager’.”

The sad truth is that Moyes never chose to be the United manager and, at times, he resembled a rabbit caught in a car’s headlights.

While 11 years at Everton earned him the respect of the football fraternity, Moyes never seemed to come to terms with the scale of his new role.

“I don’t know what we have to do to win,” Moyes said after a defeat to Stoke in February.

A quote which unintentionally encapsulates his troubled reign.