Manchester United have hit back at accusations their handling of the David Moyes sacking was unprofessional, and insist they only decided to sack him on Monday night.
A 2-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday afternoon was United’s 11th of the Premier League season, and ended any slim hopes they had of achieving a top-four finish. This target, in reality, had all but vanished some time ago, and with four matches of the campaign left to play, the champions face a battle to even finish in sixth position.
It was perhaps no surprise, then, that reports leaked on Monday that the decision had been made to relieve Moyes of his duties, less than 12 months into a six-year contract. The silence from Old Trafford on these rumours was deafening, and only on Tuesday morning did the club confirm that Sir Alex Ferguson’s chosen successor had been axed.
By this time, it was clear that it was a case of when and not if the former Toffees manager would be sacked. Indeed, it has even been suggested in some quarters that the decision to axe him had been taken after the 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat at Olympiakos, a result the Reds managed to overturn in the return leg. Regardless of that whisper, that Moyes had to endure the rumours of the Monday without any contact from the club to confirm or deny his position left a bad taste in the mouth to many, not least the League Manager’s Association who believe the club acted unprofessionally.
“The League Manager’s Association is very disappointed with the nature of David’s departure from Manchester United and to read extensive reports in the press, confirming David’s sacking, before David himself had been spoken to officially by the club,” Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the LMA, said on Tuesday afternoon.
“Throughout his time at United, David, as he always does, has conducted himself with integrity and professionalism, values that he believes in and that have been strongly associated with the club and its rich tradition. It is therefore sad to see the end of David’s tenure at United being handled in an unprofessional manner.”
United, though, have wasted little time in hitting back at these claims. Indeed, the Manchester club claim they had nothing do to with the rumours which were apparently leaked to several media outlets on Monday, and that they in fact only decided to terminate Moyes’ contract the following day when he was informed immediately.
“We do not accept that it was handled in an unprofessional manner,” said a club spokesman. “The decision was not taken until late Monday night and was communicated face-to-face first thing on Tuesday morning. When reports started emerging on internet news sites on Monday afternoon, no decision had been taken at that time.”
Moyes, meanwhile, has broken his short silence on the matter, and has issued a statement in which he thanks Sir Alex Ferguson for having the faith to appoint him as his successor last summer. He also thanked the fans for their support throughout the past 11 months, but it was significantly that he made no reference to the players, many of whom are thought to have endured a difficult relationship with him and his coaching staff.
In a statement released by the LMA, he said: “To be appointed as manager of Manchester United, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, was and remains something of which I will always be incredibly proud. Taking charge after such a long period of continuous stability and success at the club was inevitably going to be a significant challenge, but it was one which I relished and never had a second thought about taking on.
“However, during this period of transition, performances and results have not been what Manchester United and its fans are used to or expect, and I both understand and share their frustration. I would like to thank the United staff for making me feel so welcome and part of the United family from my first day. And of course thank you to those fans who have supported me throughout the season. I wish you and the club all the best for the future. I remain grateful to Sir Alex Ferguson for believing in my ability”
Ryan Giggs has been appointed as manager for the remainder of the season, and he has been joined on his coaching staff by other club legends Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes, who join Phil Neville who returned to the club as part of Moyes’ backroom staff. Looking ahead, Louis van Gaal, who will step down from his position as head coach of the Holland national side after the World Cup Finals, is the favourite to take the job permanently.