It was both surprising and unsurprising in equal measures, but Manchester United’s decision to sack manager David Moyes on Tuesday was inevitable.
The heir to Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to have a tough task to replicate the great Scot’s achievements at Old Trafford, but Moyes left the Glazer family with no choice.
Since arriving at the Manchester club from Everton in July 2013, Moyes has cut a figure of a man overwhelmed by the weight of expectation.
And in an announcement made on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Manchester United confirmed the speculation that had circulated for days by announcing that Moyes was to leave the club.
Losing 15 games in a season was almost unheard of under Ferguson, but it was the nature of the defeats which prompted the Glazers to act.
United’s home form this season is the worst the club has seen in over 35 years, losing to West Brom, Everton and Newcastle at Old Trafford, among others.
Home and away defeats to rivals Manchester City and Liverpool left a bitter taste in the fans’ mouths, calling for Moyes’ dismissal as soon as ten games into his tenure.
And with United languishing in seventh position, a whole 13 points off the top four, they face their first season without Champions League football for 19 years.
For the Glazer family, who bought United in 2005 for approximately £800m ($1.5bn), this kind of ‘failure’ is not an option.
Having floated the club on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, the Glazers will have come under increasing pressure from new shareholders who are worried that their shares are becoming less valuable with each of the team’s losses.
It’s hard to blame Moyes for the entire mess, however. The man hand-picked by Sir Alex never really found his feet, and by trying to stamp his mark on the club he ended up alienating many people.
He inherited a team which won the Premier League by 11 points from Manchester City. But as Ferguson handed over the keys to the luxury sports car, Moyes soon found there was a lot of rust under the hood.
Eight key players in the title-winning squad were over the age of 30, and started to really show their age this season.
Captain Nemanja Vidic, at 32, entered the season in the final year of his contract and soon announced that he would leave the club rather than sign an extension.
Leading goalscorer last year, Robin Van Persie has battled injury all season, restricting him to just 18 league games.
And Moyes’ £27.5m signing of former Everton star Marouane Fellaini has been nothing short of disastrous.
Moyes withdrew from a number of transfer deals that were in place on his arrival last summer, preferring instead to chase Everton’s Leighton Baines, Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, all of which ended in failure
The new manager did little to endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful, releasing long-term club coaches Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen, and Eric Steele replacing them with Steve Round and Phil Neville who were with him at Everton.
Home and away losses to Manchester City and Everton, and a third-round exit in the FA Cup overshadowed some quality performances in the Champions League.
But in the end the pressure mounted on Moyes to such an extent that it was obvious that he could not stay.
Sacking him before the end of the season is surely a measure that the United board would have wanted to avoid, but with European qualification out of the window, this move gives the club first pick of the available managerial options.
Holland boss Louis van Gaal is favourite to take the reigns at Old Trafford after this summer’s World Cup, but Manchester United is still a big enough club to attract the best managers and players this summer to get them back to the top of the league in no time.