Moyes opened up about his ill-fated spell at Old Trafford on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday, in which he was sacked during his first season in charge.
When asked whether the integration of Woodward, who was handed a new role of executive vice-chairman at the same time Moyes was appointed, caused his downfall, the Scot gave an intriguing response, per Evan Fanning of SportsJoe.ie:
I think you need to understand football totally to know. I think David Gill was someone who understands everything. And I think him and Sir Alex Ferguson had such a good relationship together that it really helped that club work.
The reason I lost my job at Manchester United was that I didn't win enough games. But I think I was unfairly treated that you don't get the time to do the job.
In Moyes’ first summer at the club the only major signing made was Marouane Fellaini, who underwhelmed for large parts of the campaign. Given Sir Alex Ferguson had departed earlier in the year after 28 years at United, it was a surprise to not see the Red Devils more active in the window, seeking to sign world-class players.
The former Everton boss conceded that had David Gill, who left along with Ferguson, still been around, things may have been easier. “There was a new chief executive in place” said Moyes. “David Gill had left which was a real big thing for Manchester United. He was someone who was very important to the club and to how things ticked along at the club.”
As Paul Morrissey of 101 Great Goals noted, it seems as though Moyes is suggesting Woodward was not the right man for the job at this critical point in the club’s history:
The clear inference from Moyes being that Woodward is an arriviste accountant, not a 'Football Man.'— Paul Morrissey (@Paul_Morrissey) February 14, 2016
Moyes clearly felt as though new signings were crucial, too, even though the squad he inherited had won the Premier League the season before.
While there were some fine players for the Scot to call upon, many, such as Robin van Persie, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs, were past their very best. As Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News noted here, Moyes felt the whole squad needed rejuvenating:
Moyes on #mufc side he inherited from Ferguson: 'That team had had its journey.'— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) February 14, 2016
One player who Moyes has conceded was on the club’s radar was then-Barcelona star Cesc Fabregas.
At the time, the Spain international was one of the very best midfield players in the world and part of a brilliant Barcelona side. Since the summer of 2013 he’s moved to Chelsea and won the Premier League title with the Blues. However, Moyes claimed he came close to becoming a United player, per Luckhurst:
Moyes on Fabregas: 'We thought we were taking him to Manchester United. We spoke to him at the time, but unfortunately it didn't happen.'— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) February 14, 2016
Despite being sacked by the Red Devils just 10 months into his tenure, Moyes was also adamant that if he had his time at Old Trafford again, there’s nothing he would change due to the fact he had assurances over his future.
“I think if I knew I was only going to have 10 months and not six years I might not have taken my time,” said the Scot, per Fanning. “There was never any rush to do anything because I had six years to do the job. It was going to take a little bit of time to change things round. There was rebuilding to be done.”
As noted by James Ducker of the Times, although Moyes didn’t enjoy the best of times at Old Trafford, when his record is compared to the role’s current incumbent Louis van Gaal, he comes off rather well:
Moyes 26PL games 13/14 season 42PTS. Van Gaal (2 yrs & £285m later) 26 PL games 15/16 season 41PTS. Dearie me— James Ducker (@DuckerTheTimes) February 13, 2016
Had the club been able to draft in players of pedigree in that first summer window, things may have been easier for the Scot as faced up to the daunting task of replacing Ferguson.
Granted he made some mistakes during his time at Old Trafford and didn’t cover himself in glory in his next role at Real Sociedad, but it’s clear from his impressive stint at Everton that Moyes is a very capable manager. You suspect he’ll prove that once again in the future, but his failure with the Red Devils will always be a significant blemish on his record, regardless of the circumstances.