Why David Moyes' Fate at Manchester United Could Be Decided This Month

Sam Pilger@sampilgerContributing Football WriterMarch 12, 2014

PIRAEUS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 25:  Manchester United manager David Moyes reacts on the touchline during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Olympiacos FC and Manchester United at Karaiskakis Stadium on February 25, 2014 in Piraeus, Greece.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The day after Manchester United’s capitulation to Olympiakos in the Champions League two weeks ago, there was a flurry of excitement when rumours emerged David Moyes had been sacked.

There was erroneous chatter United had already informed the New York Stock Exchange of Moyes’ departure and called a press conference to confirm it.

United fans reacted to the rumours in a variety of ways. Some felt genuine excitement, some felt relieved to see the back of Moyes, while others felt pangs of guilt that a good man had lost his job.

But almost none of United’s vast army of fans experienced anything approaching disappointment and regret that the Moyes era had apparently come to a premature end.

After that defeat in Athens, the defiance amongst United fans that had marked their poor start to the season gave way to a deeper sense of dissatisfaction. 

It wasn’t that United had simply lost the game to the Greeks, but rather how they had gone down so meekly with so little effort and commitment.

There was now a morbid realisation United’s poor form could no longer be classified as a mere blip.

PIRAEUS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 25:  (L-R) Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick of Manchester United react as they restart the game after conceding their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Olympiacos FC and Manchester
Michael Regan/Getty Images

This was now the norm for United. The blip had become a season.

As it stands, United are out of the FA Cup, out of the League Cup, and halfway out of the Champions League.

In the Premier League, they have no realistic hope of finishing inside the top four, currently languishing in sixth place, nine points behind Manchester City who have played two games less.

So far this season, United have only won once in 11 games against the top nine sides in the Premier League.

It is a situation that was completely unimaginable back in August and reflects horribly on David Moyes.

And yet the United manager now has the opportunity to revive United’s season and restore his own battered reputation.

Over the course of nine days, starting this Sunday, United have three consecutive home games against Liverpool, the second leg against Olympiakos and Manchester City.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25:  Victor Moses of Liverpool is challenged by Alex Buttner (l) and Jonny Evans of Manchester United during the Capital One Cup Third Round match betwen Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on September 25, 2013
Julian Finney/Getty Images

If United win those three games, David Moyes would be safe and have created some much needed momentum for next season.

He would be looking forward to a Champions League quarter-final tie and also have given the United fans some long overdue joy by slaying their two fiercest rivals at Old Trafford and causing serious damage to their title hopes.

Moyes still probably won’t win a trophy this season, but he will have shown he can motivate his side and win the most crucial games.

Above all else, Moyes would finally have given United fans a reason to believe in him.

But if United were to be knocked out of the Champions League and lose to both Liverpool and Manchester City in the space of nine days, then it could signal the beginning of the end of Moyes’ reign.

The tsunami of despair that would come crashing down on Old Trafford in the wake of three consecutive home defeats might be too much for Moyes to survive.

It would make the backlash after that first Olympiakos defeat last month seem like an insignificant ripple.

The majority of United fans have remained supportive of Moyes, but that is bound to evaporate if they were to lose these three games.

The humiliation might be too much to bear, and United fans could decide Moyes has failed this season’s audition and have to go.

Despite their inevitable protestations of support, there must be a voice inside the heads of the owning Glazer family and their executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that asks, “Have we appointed the right man? Can we afford another season like this?”

Three defeats in nine days would probably provide them with their answer.

What would be the grounds for optimism if Moyes can’t rouse his players to overcome the weakest team left in the Champions League at home, and then properly compete with their two biggest rivals?

United fans won’t see a trophy this season, or even a top four finish, but Moyes has to at least give them some pride back, starting this Sunday against Liverpool.


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