Manchester United is big enough and tough enough to take it on the chin for one disastrous season, one period of being soccer's laughing stock and, ultimately, one horrendous managerial tenure.
Any more than that? We will see.
The David Moyes era ended on Tuesday with the sacking of the United boss, a move that came as the sun was just coming up in the northwest of England yet metaphorically setting on the bleakest eight months that this club can conjure from its recent memory bank.
Moyes was given the task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson following the great Scot's retirement last summer after 26 years of service. The new man was touted as the "Chosen One," having been personally earmarked for the job by Ferguson.
In reality he was the "Frozen One," having been ultimately star-struck by the demands of one of the game's biggest jobs and unable to pull the trigger on the action needed to reverse a malaise that quickly set in.
There were some factors working against Moyes. First, there was the simple reality of Ferguson's eternal shadow. Treading in the footsteps of a man who won 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns and elevated United to its current status as one of the few globally elite clubs was never going to be an easy task.
While it was expected of Moyes to motivate United's old guard like Rio Ferdinand – he couldn't – that group did him no favors with their lackluster performances. And after winning the English title in his final season, Ferguson left behind a squad that was advancing in years and in need of a spark.
But who could have predicted just how bad things could become? And how quickly?
United has lost 11 times this campaign and stands 23 points off the Premier League lead languishing in seventh place – two spots behind Moyes' former team Everton. For a club that never missed out on qualifying for the Champions League in 19 straight seasons, the outcome has been utterly humiliating. When it quickly became apparent that the only way to get back into Europe's elite tournament was by winning this year's edition, those hopes were crushed by Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals.
Other English teams have reveled in United's demise after enviously looking up at them for so long. Perhaps most painful of all for United supporters is that it is their two fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City, who are scrapping it out for the Premier League championship.
Yet it is finances rather than pride that dictated Tuesday's action. United's owners – the Glazer family, which also owns the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers – were widely disliked when they first bought the club but few fans took any issue with their decision on Moyes.
For many, the problem with Moyes wasn't so much his failure to win but the altered face of United. Moyes made his managerial name at Everton, where he did an excellent job for a decade. However, there are different demands at United, where winning every week is the expectation.
That imposes a different tactical requirement. Often at Everton, Moyes was reactive to the opposition's style and countered effectively. But the very best teams in the Premier League dominate. They have to or they will simply drop too many points and slip out of contention. As United quickly did.
And so now it comes to putting things right. Club veteran Ryan Giggs has taken over as caretaker boss while a search for a new manager starts. Some big names will inevitably be in the hunt.
Dutch legend Louis Van Gaal is the favorite, with Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone also in contention. Giggs will surely get consideration.
All those men come with fine reputations, just as Moyes once had. This post is not an easy one to fill, though. It's even harder than United expected when they went through the same process leading up to Ferguson's departure.
And with the patience of the owners and the fans all used up, the new man will have a stern challenge on his hands and, arguably, even more pressure to face than the hapless Moyes.
- Sports & Recreation
- David Moyes
- Manchester United
- Premier League
- Alex Ferguson