Manchester United confirmed on Tuesday that David Moyes has been dismissed as manager after just 10 months on the job. Ryan Giggs will be interim coach, the club announced.
Manchester United have already made the first steps toward bringing in Louis van Gaal, Old Trafford sources told ESPN FC.
Exactly a year after winning a record-extending 20th English championship, United dismissed Moyes during a meeting at the training ground on Tuesday morning.
Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson last summer on a six-year contract, but was relieved of his duties after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to former club Everton, which left the club unable to qualify for the Champions League.
A terse, two-line statement on the club’s official website read: “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.”
Ryan Giggs, who had worked as player-coach under Moyes this season, will take temporary charge of the club, but there has been speculation for some time over Moyes’ permanent successor.
The 62-year-old Van Gaal had been expected to join Tottenham Hotspur as recently as February, but White Hart Lane sources say Van Gaal has become extremely cool on that prospect over the last two months and his position has completely changed -- perhaps because Van Gaal had been informed the United post could become open to him.
Earlier this month, United denied reports of discussions with Van Gaal, who will leave the Netherlands after the World Cup, but Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claimed on Tuesday that the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was headed to Portugal for talks with co-chairman Joel Glazer.
A person with knowledge of the situation at United said the club would be seeking an experienced manager and a short list was being put together with a view toward an appointment being made quickly.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club was yet to announce the moves.
The Glazers likely would have been concerned that next season's exile from Europe's top club competition may have dragged on for years at a time when player costs are high and interest payments on the club's debts are a real burden. Big United sponsors, such as Nike, may have become restless.
"Clearly Nike and other sponsors are paying for one of the best and most recognized football brands in the world -- not one that cannot even make the Champions League," said Louise Cooper, an independent financial analyst in London. "The financials ensured that Moyes was not given the time to perform."
Investors appeared to welcome the news, sending United's share price up 5 percent in early New York trading to $18.60 -- the highest level since the final days of Ferguson's reign.
Recent reports in the English press have suggested that Juergen Klopp has many admirers at Old Trafford, but Borussia Dortmund told ESPN FC on Tuesday morning that there is no prospect he will join United, “even if some people don’t want to believe it.”
Former United defender Laurent Blanc, currently in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, has also been linked with the role along with Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, although the Argentine does not speak English.
ESPN FC had reported last month that Moyes had lost the faith of key boardroom figures and his position was under serious threat.
On Monday afternoon, news of the Scot’s impending departure broke, and although United insisted the manager had “definitely” not been sacked, the club did not deny the stories that his exit was imminent.
Following the news, Sean Bones, vice-chair at Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), told Sky Sports News that he felt the situation had been handled badly, saying: “This has been done without class and dignity. It’s wrong to brief journalists the day before.”
United will finish the campaign with their lowest-ever Premier League point total, having lost 11 of their 34 games so far. They have also lost 10 of their 22 games in all competitions in 2014 and are certain to finish outside the top three for the first time since 1990.
Moyes took United to the Champions League quarterfinals, but his reign also included a Capital One Cup semifinal defeat to Sunderland, when United missed four of their penalties in the shootout, and an FA Cup third-round exit to Swansea at Old Trafford.
Moyes made two major signings as United manager, bringing in Marouane Fellaini from his former club Everton in September for 27.5 million pounds and Juan Mata from Chelsea in January for a club-record 37.1 million pounds.
There have been reports of unrest among United players, always denied, during his reign but the club, who claimed 89 points to become Premier League champions last year, are enduring their worst season for a quarter of a century.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.