MANCHESTER -- Manchester United supporters have been loyal and stoic this season, but this derby disaster was the final straw for some fans and understandably so.
Some abused Sir Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box for his choice of Moyes as his successor, others were restrained by stewards as they verbally insulted Moyes himself. Judging by these scenes, a full-scale revolt is just around the corner should results continue to nosedive.
At the end of the game, the sorry picture was completed by a line of stewards protecting ‘The Chosen One’ banner depicting Moyes at the Stretford End in case United supporters chose to tear it down.
At any other Premier League club Moyes would have been sacked months ago for delivering a string of performances that have fallen, unacceptably, below expectations,
“Five more years, five more years” came the chant from the gloating 3,000 Manchester City supporters in the away end here.
For so long United has had it all its own way, now the fans must shudder at the thought of having Moyes in charge for the full duration of his six-year contract.
They must wince at the prospect of the damage that could be inflicted in two matches against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
The club’s fans and board have tried desperately this season to stick to United’s ethos of being patient and giving the manager time. They don’t want to be like every club that makes kneejerk decisions, remembering that Ferguson himself came within a defeat of losing his job.
But sometimes you just have to accept that you have got the wrong man.
Moyes should never have been appointed in the first place. United hired a midtable manager who has turned the club into a midtable team quicker than anyone could have anticipated.
Moyes used his post-match press conference to take “full responsibility” for United’s disastrous season and to emphasize the lengthy “rebuilding job” he is determined to oversee at Old Trafford.
Rebuilding? This is the champion of England which should only have required a measure of fine tuning. A complete overhaul is required only because Moyes has attached sticks of dynamite to a skyscraper and demolished it to its foundations.
Moyes inherited a squad that won the Premier League by 11 points last season, now United sits seventh in the table, 18 points off top and 12 behind fourth placed Arsenal.
City crossed this great footballing metropolis and rolled over United like the club was mid-table cannon fodder, just as Liverpool had nine days earlier.
There has not been a single sign of progress. In 13 matches against teams in the top nine of the Premier League, United has managed just one victory and accumulated seven points. It is beyond pathetic.
Perhaps the most damning indictment of United’s performance against City was that it was such a routine victory for the visiting side, so utterly predictable.
United has occasionally offered the fans some faint hope - as the team did in the last week with wins over Olympiakos and West Ham - but these have represented false dawns. Against elite opposition Manchester United has been chewed up and spat out time and time again.
On Tuesday, the Scot set out to stifle City but within 43 seconds the gameplan had blown up in smoke as Edin Dzeko pounced from close range.
United huffed and puffed - you cannot fault the players’ effort levels - but never looked like scoring and it felt like only a matter of time before City put the result beyond doubt.
The visiting team did so as Dzeko scored his second with a volley in the 56th minute before Yaya Toure slammed home City’s third late on.
It was embarrassingly easy for City to inflict United’s 10th defeat of the season and Moyes’ side has now scored just one goal in five home fixtures against the top five this season.
He has continually floundered tactically and was at it again here as he failed to stop City while putting out a side with no width that included Tom Cleverley on the right wing for most of the first half. Some of Moyes’ decision making has been bewildering.
All the talk is that Moyes will have 150 million pounds to spend in the summer, but can United even trust him not to squander it?
Marouane Fellaini plays like someone put the decimal point in the wrong place in the £27.5 million fee United paid Everton to sign him in the summer.
The Belgian was woeful here, completely overrun in midfield, ponderous on the ball and lucky to stay on the pitch for a nasty swing of the arm at Pablo Zabaleta.
Moyes signed Juan Mata - Chelsea’s player of the year for the last two seasons - for a club record fee in January but does not appear to know how to use the Spaniard.
Too often Mata has been asked to play out wide when he is clearly more effective operating in a central role in between the lines.
There are some glaring weaknesses in the United squad, particularly in midfield, but Moyes has no excuse for falling so far behind the club’s rivals this season.
Had Jose Mourinho been appointed instead last May, United would at least be in a Champions League position right now. It’s that simple.
Moyes’ post-match comments will also be sure to infuriate United supporters who have been brought up on trophies and champagne football.
“I think we’ve played a very good side, playing at the sort of level we’re aspiring to,” Moyes told Sky Sports. “We need to come up a couple of levels ourselves because at the moment we are not there.”
United will get back to its previous levels one day - but Moyes is not the man to take the club there.