Moyes pays the price for dreadful season

Shaun Botterill

After nine months and 51 games in charge, David Moyes has been fired as manager of Manchester United.

Manchester United have dismissed David Moyes from his position as manager, according to the Daily Mail and the BBC. It appears that Ryan Giggs will take control of the team for the remaining four games of the season. The club have yet to issue a statement, but according to reports, Moyes was summoned to Old Trafford early this morning and informed that he was being relieved of his duties. He had already said his goodbyes to United's staff.

Update: The club have now issued a statement. It reads, in full:

Manchester United has announced that David Moyes has left the Club. The Club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.

His dismissal comes after a day of fevered speculation, which the club spent denying rumours of Moyes's departure in such a way as to make it obvious and inevitable. More generally, it comes after a season of great disappointment on the pitch: United, not that you need reminding, are currently seventh in the table that they topped last season, 13 points behind Arsenal in fourth place and 23 off Liverpool at the top.

Quite when the final straw came is unclear, but whatever the noises from the club at the time, it seems that Moyes's position has been at best insecure since the 2-0 defeat away to Olympiacos in the Champions League. Though the 3-0 home win earned him a stay of execution, the immediate catalyst appears to have been Sunday's loss by the same scoreline to Moyes's former club Everton. Not only was the defeat embarrassing on a personal and professional level, it also confirmed that United would not be competing in next season's premier European competition for the first time since the European Cup and the First Division reinvented themselves.

In truth, there are a catalogue of such moments to choose from — the double whammy of 3-0 home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City will live long and poisonously in the memory — and while his dismissal comes as a disappointment it should not come as anything approaching a surprise. United now begin, again, the search for the right man to replace Alex Ferguson. Moyes, the chosen one, didn't even last as long as his banner.

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