Stepping into Sir Alex Ferguson’s sizable shoes was always going to be tough, but since his retirement in 2013 following a 27-year tenure that brought 13 titles and two Champions Leagues, Manchester United have been on a downward spiral.
The hope was that Everton boss David Moyes would be the ideal candidate to take on his fellow Scot’s legacy and put his own trophy-laden stamp on Old Trafford. But having signed a six-year contract to join in June 2013, Moyes was sacked in late April 2014, with United mathematically unable to qualify for the following season’s Champions League. He was replaced by caretaker boss Ryan Giggs for the final four matches, and the club limped to a seventh-place finish.
Former Barcelona and Ajax legend Louis van Gaal would end up being the long-term replacement (though even he won only one FA Cup at the club), but ahead of Moyes’ first league game in charge against Swansea on Aug. 17, 2013, there was an expectation of immediate success to follow Ferguson’s retirement. Especially after a 4-1 win.
The wait goes on, but here we look back at Moyes’ squad from his ill-fated, 10-month spell in charge of Manchester United.
GK: David De Gea — The Spaniard is still Manchester United’s No. 1, now in his ninth season at the club. While his recent form has been inconsistent, he will go down as a United great, having won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year four times since the 2013-14 campaign.
GK: Anders Lindegaard — De Gea’s deputy until August 2015, when he left for WBA on a free. Spells at Preston and Burnley followed, and he joined Helsingborgs IF in July 2018. But could he have had a more fulfilled career as an outfield player? He managed to grab a last-minute equaliser for Helsingborgs IF in July with a bullet header at Falkenbergs FF.
GK: Sam Johnstone — Johnstone was an unused substitute twice in the 2013-14 season, and after a nomadic existence, taking in 10 loan spells, he joined West Bromwich Albion in 2018 for £6.6 million and will be back in the Premier League with them next season.
GK: Ben Amos — Amos spent much of his seven years at United on loan elsewhere and joined Bolton Wanderers permanently in 2015 on a free transfer. He played a full season there in 2015-16, but then spent the next three on loan at Cardiff, Charlton and Millwall. He joined Charlton on a free in July 2019.
DEF: Michael Keane — He spent the 2013-14 campaign on loan at Derby and Blackburn, and then signed for Burnley in January 2015 for a bargain £2.3m. There, he made a great impression and was shortlisted for PFA Young Player of the Year in April 2017. Keane completed his big-money transfer to Everton in July 2017 for £25m and has 10 England caps.
DEF: Chris Smalling — Smalling was a regular for United through to the summer of 2019, helping the team to the 2016 FA Cup and 2017 Europa League titles, but he joined Roma on a season-long loan last June. He has shone in Serie A but is not expected to sign a permanent deal in Italy and will not be short of suitors this summer.
Julien Laurens sees the logic in Manchester United giving Chris Smalling another chance.
DEF: Jonny Evans — He won three Premier League titles at United before moving to West Brom in August 2015 for £7.5m. Evans then moved to Leicester three years later for £3.6m and must go down as one of the best pound-for-pound signings in the Premier League. He is a regular in their starting XI, and aged 32, has at least three more years left at the top level.
DEF: Phil Jones — Still at United, he could be on the move this summer having slipped down the pecking order, making just two Premier League appearances this season. He’s just 28 years old, so he will have plenty more to offer and will hope to add to his 27 England caps.
DEF: Antonio Valencia — Valencia had 10 consistent years at United, including his final season as captain. He joined the club as a winger but ended up shifting to right-back and was a key cog under Moyes, Van Gaal and then Jose Mourinho. He left on a free to Colombian side LDU Quito in July 2019 and is now a free agent.
DEF: Ashley Young — Young was confirmed as United’s captain for the 2019-20 season but left in January for Inter. Like Valencia, he joined United as a winger, when he signed from Aston Villa for £17m in 2011, but ended up shifting to full-back, where he was hugely successful. Eventually, he found himself behind Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams and left for Italy. He has performed well since his move and will hope to continue that next season under Antonio Conte.
DEF: Rafael— The Brazilian right-back made 170 appearances for United, and 29 in Moyes’ season before leaving for Ligue 1 and Lyon in August 2015 for £3m. His most recent performance for Lyon saw him shown a red card in their Coupe de la Ligue final defeat to PSG.
DEF: Fabio — The Brazilian wing-back is Rafael’s twin and left the club midway through the 2013-14 season for Cardiff. He then moved to Middlesbrough in August 2016 for £2m and is now in Ligue 1 at Nantes.
DEF: Alexander Buttner — The Dutch left-back arrived at Old Trafford in August 2012 and was a bit-part player for two seasons until moving to Dynamo Moscow in July 2014. He then had spells at Anderlecht and Vitesse Arnhem and is now at New England Revolution in MLS.
DEF: Patrice Evra — Evra is up there with Denis Irwin as United’s finest left-back of the Premier League era. He won the 2008 Champions League and five Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford and left in June 2014 for Juventus, where he picked up two Serie A winner’s medals. He moved to Marseille in January 2017 and West Ham in February 2018, where he made five appearances, before retiring in July 2019. He now works as a TV pundit and is prolific on his Instagram account.
DEF: Rio Ferdinand — Ferdinand signed from Leeds United in 2002 for a then-record £30m fee and will go down as one of the club’s all-time greats. He won everything at United across his 13-year spell at the club and left for QPR on a free in July 2014. He retired a year later and briefly returned to sport in September 2017, when he launched a career to become a professional boxer, though it was halted when he failed to get the necessary license. He now runs his FIVE brand and is a pundit for BT Sport.
DEF: Nemanja Vidic — The Serbia international was one of the Premier League’s finest defenders, having arrived at United from Spartak Moscow in January 2006 for £9.5m. He won five Premier Leagues, one Champions League and three League Cups before moving to Inter on a free in July 2014. He retired in Jan 2016 and completed his UEFA Pro coaching license in June 2018. He was linked to the Manchester United Under-23 manager’s role in the summer of 2019, but that never materialised.
MID: Juan Mata — The Spanish attacking midfielder was Moyes’ second big-name signing and arrived in January 2014 from Chelsea for £37.1m. He’s still at United now and made 34 appearances this season. His work away from the field saw him launch Common Goal in August, with which he donated 1% of his wages to charitable causes and asked other pros to join him.
MID: Marouane Fellaini — Fellaini was Moyes’ first signing, as he grabbed the tall Belgian midfielder from his former club Everton for £27.5m. The transfer could have been less of a dent in United’s pockets had they closed it out earlier in the summer and met his previous release clause of £23.5m. But Fellaini went on to score key goals for United, including the one that took them to the Europa League Final in 2016, and made 177 appearances before leaving for Chinese side Shandong Luneng in January 2019 for £6.5m.
MID: Tom Cleverley — Cleverley played 30 times under Moyes and then left the following summer for Aston Villa on loan. He joined Everton on a free transfer in July 2015 and signed for Watford for £8.3m in July 2017. The midfielder made 18 top flight appearances for the Hornets this season as they were relegated from the Premier League.
MID: Anderson — The Brazilian midfielder made just eight appearances under Moyes and was sent on loan to Fiorentina in January 2014. He joined Brazilian side Internacional on a free transfer in February 2015 and had spells with Coritiba FC and Adana Demirspor before retiring in September 2019.
MID: Tom Lawrence — Lawrence was given his United debut under Giggs at the end of the 2013-14 season in their 3-1 win over Hull but was then sold to Leicester City in May 2014. He spent time on loan at Blackburn and Cardiff City in the 2015-16 season and joined Derby on a permanent deal in August 2017. He was arrested alongside teammate Mason Bennett in September 2019 on suspicion of drink-driving and pleaded guilty in October 2019. They were given 12-month community orders, 180 hours of unpaid work and a two-year driving ban.
MID: Nick Powell — The midfielder arrived at United in 2012 with huge billing and scored on his debut but made only three league appearances. After loan spells at Wigan, Leicester and Hull, he joined Wigan on a permanent deal in 2016 on a free transfer. He played three seasons there and is now at Stoke.
MID: Michael Carrick — Carrick retired from football in May 2018, bringing the curtain down on a career that saw him win 34 England caps, five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one Champions League and one Europa League. He’s now a coach at United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer alongside Kieran McKenna and Mike Phelan.
MID: Darren Fletcher — Fletcher left Manchester United in 2015 for WBA after a 12-year spell in which he scooped up five Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Champions League. He played for 18 months at West Brom, then had two seasons at Stoke and retired in January 2020. He’s now back in an informal ambassadorial role at Manchester United, having previously done some coaching work at West Brom.
MID: Jesse Lingard — Lingard spent much of Moyes’ one season on loan at Birmingham City and then Brighton. He’s now a squad player and has made over 200 appearances to date, scoring 33 goals. He’s also won 24 England caps.
FW: Adnan Januzaj — The Belgian winger was earmarked as the next big thing at Old Trafford and broke through into the first team under Moyes and then Van Gaal. But by August 2015, he had been sent out on loan to Borussia Dortmund and then Sunderland before eventually joining La Liga side Real Sociedad for £7.65m in July 2017.
FW: Nani — Nani had some thrilling moments for United in his seven-year spell at the club, after joining from Sporting CP in 2007 for £22.95m. He left for Fenerbahce in 2015 for £5.4m and had further spells at Valencia, Lazio and back at Sporting CP. He’s now playing in MLS for Orlando City.
FW: Bebe — It was one of the most obscure transfers of Ferguson’s tenure, when unknown Bebe arrived from Vitoria Guimaraes for £7m in 2010. The Portuguese winger made only two league appearances for United and was then sent out on loan three times before joining Benfica for £2.7m in June 2014. He’s now at Rayo Vallecano in Spain‘s Segunda Division.
FW: Wilfried Zaha — Zaha was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing as United manager but failed to make a dent under Moyes, making just four appearances in the 2013-14 campaign before being loaned to Cardiff. He was then sold back to Crystal Palace in February 2015 for a bargain £3.4m, where he remains to this day, but the winger is reportedly keen for a move this summer.
FW: Ryan Giggs — United legend Giggs is United’s appearances leader, totalling 963 from 1991-2014, with 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues. He stepped in to take charge for the final four matches of the 2013-14 season after Moyes was sacked, then hung up his boots to serve as assistant manager under Van Gaal. Giggs is now Wales manager.
– Carlisle: Why Rooney swapped D.C. for Derby
ST: Wayne Rooney — Rooney won everything at United and is the club’s top scorer with 253 in 559 appearances. He was given the captaincy in 2014 and was a key cog in the transition post-Ferguson under Moyes and then Van Gaal. He left in 2017 for Everton on a free transfer, then had a spell in MLS at DC United and is now player-coach at Derby County. On the international stage, he won 120 caps and scored a record 53 goals for England, beating Sir Bobby Charlton’s long-standing tally of 49.
ST: Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez — The Mexico striker was signed by Ferguson in 2010, and he went on to score 59 goals for United in 157 appearances. A real crowd favourite, he found game time limited under Van Gaal and was loaned to Real Madrid for a season before being sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £10.8m in August 2015. Spells at West Ham and Sevilla followed, and he’s now in MLS with LA Galaxy, having signed in January 2020.
Herculez Gomez disagrees with Javier Hernandez blaming David Moyes for his struggles at Manchester United.
ST: Angelo Henriquez — Henriquez came with the billing of a “wonder kid” when he signed for United in August 2012 for £5m after impressing for Universidad de Chile, but he failed to make a single league appearance. He spent time away on loan at Wigan and Real Zaragoza and eventually left on a permanent deal for Dinamo Zagreb in 2015. He’s now back at his boyhood club in Chile after a brief spell at Atlas in Mexico’s Liga MX.
ST: Federico Macheda — Macheda arrived at United from Lazio’s youth setup and famously scored the winner on his debut, against Aston Villa in 2009. By 2011, he was out on loan at Sampdoria, and then spent the next couple of years living out of his suitcase with further loan spells at QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham City. He joined Cardiff City on a permanent deal in 2014 for free, and two years later went to then Serie B side Novara in 2016. He’s now at Panathinaikos, whom he joined in 2018.
ST: Danny Welbeck — The 42-cap England striker featured prominently under Moyes, making 25 league appearances in 2013-14, but was sold to Arsenal in September 2014 for £16m. He suffered a few injury setbacks at the Emirates, but still scored 32 goals in 126 appearances, and left for Watford in August 2019 on a free.
ST: James Wilson — He made his United debut under Giggs at the end of the 2013-14 season and grabbed two goals for good measure against Hull City. But after a season under Van Gaal, loan spells at Brighton, Derby, Sheffield United and Aberdeen followed, and he joined the Scottish side on a permanent deal in July 2019. After six months there, he left for League 2 side Salford City (owned by a number of former United “Class of ’92” stars) in January 2020.
— Salford City FC (@SalfordCityFC) February 15, 2020
ST: Robin van Persie — Van Persie helped United to the title in Ferguson’s final season after joining from Arsenal for a bargain £27m. Under Moyes, he made 28 appearances in the 2013-14 campaign, scoring 16 goals. Following one term under Van Gaal, Van Persie joined Fenerbahce in July 2015, and then spent the final years of his career at Feyenoord before retiring in July 2019. He also won 102 caps for Netherlands and scored 50 goals and now works as a TV pundit.
MANAGER: David Moyes
Moyes was dismissed with four matches remaining in the season and, seven months later, took up the managerial reins at Real Sociedad. There, he was sacked after a year, and then went to Sunderland in July 2016 but was unable to avoid relegation and resigned in May 2017. He took up a short-term post at West Ham and steered the club to safety, but his six-month deal expired in May 2018, and he was back into the managerial wilderness again. However, he was back at the Hammers by November 2019 and is now planning for the 2020-21 campaign, having finished 16th.