MANCHESTER, England – From embarrassing defeats to a critical plane banner and taunts from a spectator dressed as the Grim Reaper, it was a tumultuous 10-month reign for David Moyes as Manchester United manager.
Here is a look at some major milestones marking Moyes' slide toward the exit at Old Trafford:
If Moyes, together with vice-chairman Ed Woodward, had acted with more urgency and decisiveness in the summer transfer window, United's season could have turned out a whole lot different. As it was, they wasted time and energy on failed bids for Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, lost out to Bayern Munich in the race to sign Thiago Alcantara and then blundered in making a derisory double offer to former club Everton for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. His only purchase ended up being Fellaini, for an inflated fee of 27.5 million ($43 million), in the final minutes of transfer deadline day and the Belgium midfielder never established himself as a United regular.
The season started well for Moyes — a 2-0 win over Wigan in the Community Shield was followed by a 4-1 win at Swansea on the opening weekend of the Premier League and a creditable 0-0 draw with Chelsea in his first match at Old Trafford. Then the wheels started to fall off. In September, United lost at fierce rival Liverpool, was taken apart in a 4-1 loss at neighbor Manchester City and was defeated 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion, which ended its 35-year wait for a victory at Old Trafford. It was a portent of things to come.
THE LOWEST POINT
Moyes said a 2-2 home draw in the Premier League to last-place Fulham in early February was "as bad as it gets." He was to be sadly mistaken. Probably the lowest point of his United tenure came two weeks later in Piraeus, Greece, where his team slumped to a 2-0 loss to Olympiakos in the first leg of the Champions League's last 16. "To a man, there was nothing," Moyes said. "I just didn't see that level of performance coming." The pressure started to build on Moyes after that display.
By the end of March, critics of Moyes were calling on fans to remove a banner with the words "The Chosen One" — a nickname given to Moyes — that had been hanging from the famous Stretford End at Old Trafford. Yet it was a different banner, much higher in the sky, that grabbed just as much attention during the home match against Aston Villa on March 29. A plane carrying the message "Wrong One - Moyes Out" flew overhead at the start of the game. It was a PR stunt that was booed by many United fans, but it hardly would have made Moyes more comfortable in his position.
The final public image of Moyes as United manager couldn't have been more apt. Standing in his technical area, arms folded, as his team labored in a 2-0 loss at Everton on Sunday, Moyes span round to see a spectator dressed as the Grim Reaper motioning an imitation scythe toward him from the crowd. It caused plenty of hilarity among the fans but Moyes didn't look amused. The reaper was removed from the stands — and Moyes was removed by United two days later.