Was Fergie?s shadow to blame for Moyes downfall?

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David MoyesThe news that David Moyes had been sacked by Manchester United came more in the way of confirmation than of breaking news. Bookmakers had already taken evasive action ahead of United?s trip to Goodison Park last weekend to face Moyes? old club Everton.

A 2-0 defeat there apparently sealed his fate and a meeting of the Old Trafford hierarchy took the decision to call time on Moyes less than a year into his six-year contract. Settlement is believed to be in the region of £5 million for the Scot who has failed to maintain the standards set by Sir Alex Ferguson in his long reign at the club.

Moyes knew it would be a hard act to follow with Ferguson being part of the fabric of the Manchester club. What he may not have anticipated is that the shadow of Ferguson would be hovering over him throughout his tenure. There scarcely seemed to be a match at Old Trafford where the cameras were unable to pick out a disgruntled Sir Alex up in the stands or a stone-faced Bobby Charlton looking on in disdain.

What is most puzzling of all is that Moyes was given the job on the recommendation of Sir Alex himself. It was common knowledge that Ferguson regarded Moyes as a logical successor despite his lack of silverware at Everton. Despite talk of Ferguson looking forward to his retirement, he simply does not seem to have been able to let go of the reins. Surely it would have been only fair to Moyes had Ferguson disappeared quietly from view, returning occasionally for only the highest profile occasions.

What is even more disturbing is that Sir Alex has already been named as being a key part of the selection process for the next incumbent of the post. The first step since removing Moyes has been to appoint veteran winger Ryan Giggs in temporary charge and call in a band of Fergie?s old squad to join the coaching staff. United?s excuse for ditching Moyes so unceremoniously is that they wanted to be fair to him and not seek his successor while he was still in the job. That can be loosely translated as knowing they wanted rid of him, it was just a matter of when.

Moyes has remained diplomatic, although he made a point of not thanking the players. It seems that the old guard still rules the roost at Old Trafford, rather like the situation facing Andre Villas-Boas in his time at Chelsea. Both Moyes and Villas-Boas believed that they had been brought in to start a rebuilding process. Both found that they lacked the support to break down the existing framework.