The news yesterday that Manchester United’s manager was sacked met with a mixed bag of responses from Northern Irish supporters.
Opinions ranged from delight at David Moyes’ departure, to feeling sorry for him and the belief that anyone who had stepped into the shoes of ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson would have faced huge difficulties.
The former Everton boss had only been in post for around nine months when the club confirmed yesterday morning that he is to leave.
Ex-player Ryan Giggs is to take the reins in the meantime.
Robert Reid, secretary of the almost 60-strong Lagan Manchester United supporters’ club, said: “I think the club was just too big for him. He was OK in Everton. I think he just bit off more than he could chew.
“But listen – anybody coming after Fergie, it was going to be hard to follow him. I feel sorry for him myself. But seventh position (in the Premiership) was no use, and the style of play was bad.”
When it comes to the fall-out from the dramatic sacking, the 53-year-old fan, who went to his first match in 1972, said: “Realistically, I don’t think it’s going to do a whole lot. Everybody knew when Fergie left it was going to be unsettled.”
John Bond, from the roughly 20-strong Belfast Reds supporters’ club, was also asked his view on the ousting.
“Happiness!” said the 70-year-old from west Belfast.
“To be honest with you after Sunday (when they lost two-nil to Everton), it was inevitable that he was going to get the sack. I make no bones about this. The way united played, Cliftonville would have beaten them.
“Even at Christmas I said he wasn’t the man for the job. But then again, I’m not one of the directors of Old Trafford.”
Mr Bond said the club enjoys such a huge following in the Province that he estimates in years gone by, when tickets were more available, perhaps 30 per cent of those at Old Trafford would have been from this side of the Irish Sea.
Brendan O’Neill, 56, a fan since the days of George Best and past chairman of the now-defunct Antrim Town supporters’ club, said of the sacking: “It’s possibly a bit harsh. But unfortunately the reality is it’s a money-making business, especially with Glazer (the current American owner).”
He said there were too many stories going around about who may be the next long-term manager to make an informed judgment.
Ian Hall, 66 and from Dungannon supporters’ club, which has more than 150 members, said he would personally have liked to see him stay until Christmas to give him more of a chance.
Echoing many others, he said: “With Fergie being there so long, it’s just a hard act to follow.”
Ditched boss Moyes has strong ties with Ulster’s north coast
The sacking of Manchester United manager David Moyes comes less than a year after one of his Northern Ireland-based relatives welcomed his appointment to the post.
Glasgow-born Moyes can trace his family tree to the north coast of Northern Ireland, with both his late mother Joan and grandmother Mattie hailing from Portrush.
In May last year – as news that Moyes had secured the post at Manchester United became known – his cousin Dessie Brown, secretary of Coleraine FC, told the News Letter: “For David to be even considered for the post is remarkable. It’s true reward for a guy who has more or less dedicated his life to football.”
He added: “He still does very much like to get over when he can and likes to visit his mum’s grave.”
There had been speculation about Moyes’ position at Manchester United for a while, which reached a head on Monday as rumours swirled of his imminent departure following the club’s 11th league defeat of the season one day earlier.
Then in a statement at around 8am yesterday, the club said: “Manchester United has announced that David Moyes has left the club. The club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.”
Some fans were highly critical of how the whole affair was handled, and the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust said yesterday that it was wrong for the story to have surfaced nearly 24 hours before an official announcement was made.
“It’s a PR shambles,” said its vice-chair Sean Bones.
“Manchester United’s history shows they deal with things with class and dignity but that has not been the case here.”