Why sacking David Moyes now makes sense for Man United

Brooks Peck
Manchester United's manager David Moyes walks between pitches as his team train at Carrington training ground in Manchester, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Manchester United will play Olympiakos in a Champions League last 16 second leg soccer match on Wednesday
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Manchester United's manager David Moyes walks between pitches as his team train at Carrington training ground in Manchester, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Manchester United will play Olympiakos in a Champions League last 16 second leg soccer match on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

David Moyes has been sacked by Manchester United before he could even finish out the first season of his six-year contract, and it makes perfect sense.

Man United still have four games left to play this season, but with 11 losses this is already the club's worst season of the Premier League era. That record has ensured Man United will not play in the Champions League next season for the first time since 1995, and if they remain in seventh place, Man United likely won't even have a (perhaps unwanted) chance at the Europa League. That alone would be enough to get the manager of any club one season removed from winning a league title sacked, but for Moyes it was made so much worse by the way in which this played out.

"When we had bad times here, everyone stood by me and your job now is to stand by your new manager," Sir Alex Ferguson told the fans in his farewell address at Old Trafford last season upon retiring after 27 seasons with the club, but Moyes made it very hard for them to do that. His long list of dubious records and accomplishments would've been dismissed as a ridiculous impossibility had it been predicted before the season began, and he made a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Under his leadership, Man United lost both their matches against Man City, both their matches against Liverpool and both their matches against his former club, Everton (who are currently two places ahead of Man United in the table). He either lost or never had the players' belief. But aside from all of that, he really did a splendid job.

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Depending on how you look at it, the question is either why Man United waited this long to sack him or why they wouldn't just let him finish the season out and start fresh next year. According to the Independent, there's a practical answer to both of those questions.

The decision to get rid of the 50-year-old was discussed and possibly ratified at a recent United board meeting but there is a financial motive behind delaying removing him until now. 

The mathematical impossibility of United finishing in the top four this season, following its 11th Premier League defeat of the season at Goodison Park on Sunday, means that United needs to only give Moyes a one-year pay-off under the terms of his [six]-year deal, rather than honor the full [five] years left on that contract. Ryan Giggs could then take over as caretaker manager for the final four games of the season.

Initially, it had been thought that the Scot’s departure might be a graceful one after United’s Premier League season ends at Southampton on 11 May. But chief executive Ed Woodward has been urgently seeking to tie up transfer business in Germany and Spain before the World Cup starts, in 52 days’ time. The prospect of securing players such as Southampton’s Luke Shaw and Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos would be even more challenging if United was under the leadership of a lame-duck manager, as well as unable to offer such recruits Champions League football next season.