I take fandom very, very seriously, so when I became a fan of both Manchester United and the Barclay's Premier League (BPL) it was a ginormous deal for me. When my wife jumped on the Man U bandwagon two years ago it made my life as a United fan even more "brilliant," as they say in the Premier League.
But all that was good has come crashing down now that manager David Moyes has got the sack before he even made it through a single season.
He never had a chance, not with Sir Alex Ferguson casting a shadow across all the way to the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand at Old Trafford. Sir Alex was nothing less than the greatest professional sports manager of all time, with Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as perhaps the only global point of comparison. He won the BPL title for the last time last year but in all he won it 13 times between 1986 and 2013. He won the FA Cup five times and the League Cup four times. He won the Champion's League twice and too much cumulative hardware to list from Scotland, England, and the Continent.
Sir Alex turned Manchester United into a billion-dollar global powerhouse, the greatest sports franchise in history. When he said goodbye to the fans at Old Trafford, he said: "I'd also like to remind you that we've had bad times here. The club stood by me. All my staff stood by me. The players stood by me. So your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important."
It turned out to be an impossible task for David Moyes and Man U's fans. With just a trickle of games to play, the team sits in seventh place, distant from the top four who will qualify for the big-money Champion's League. The side has been atrocious at Old Trafford, a mighty fortress under Sir Alex, though they have also (oddly) been the best road team in the Premier League.
What went wrong? It's easy enough to say "everything" and leave it at that. But fans in the BPL have a huge blind spot when it comes to injuries. When Arsenal fell off a cliff this season the Premier League fans almost universally blamed manager Arsene Wenger at a time when some of his best players were not fit, a list that included Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshire, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, and Laurent Koscielny.
Things were nearly as bad for Moyes. Both all-world strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie were out for long stretches, as were Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans -- all on defense -- and Marouane Fellaini and Darren Fletcher in the midfield.
A Scot like Ferguson, Moyes was and is a conservative coach who delivered victories without championships at Everton. Now he has been beheaded without apology. Despite what Sir Alex said about standing by the manager -- in front of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand -- Manchester United's fans simply could not stand to lose, not even for a single season in the English Premier League. My feelings about the club will never quite be the same.