Manchester United sacked David Moyes because they became convinced they were getting worse the longer they spent under his management, sources told ESPN FC.
• Sources: United in for Van Gaal
• Podcast: The Chosen One? Sacked?
• Vote on Moyes' replacement at United
• Payne: United shambles
• Marcotti: Fact and fiction
• Brewin: Departure inevitable
• Shaw: Why Moyes had to go
Moyes was dismissed on Tuesday, 36 hours after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Everton, and sources close to the club have told ESPN FC that they were worried by the scale of United’s decline, the poor results and low performance levels, particularly in 2014, and came to the conclusion that the players were not performing for the Scot.
Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have played a part in the discussions which resulted in the removal of Moyes, his chosen successor, although he did not take the final decision to terminate the 50-year-old’s six-year contract, sources said.
United had hoped Moyes would prove a long-term appointment but became increasingly worried as they lost 10 times in 22 games since Jan. 1, a far worse run of results than in his first few months in charge.
It did not escape United’s attention that Liverpool, who finished 28 points behind Ferguson’s team last season, are now 23 points ahead of them, and that they were slipping further adrift of the top teams.
The 2-0 defeat to Olympiakos in February first raised questions at the upper echelons of the club if Moyes was the right man to take United forward. While they won the second leg of their Champions League tie against the Greek league winners, other setbacks – including the 3-0 losses to Liverpool and Manchester City – made them feel the side lacked spirit and belief in the manager.
Powerbrokers at Old Trafford and the United States -- where the club’s owners, the Glazers, live -- spoke on Sunday evening when both those who attended the defeat at Goodison Park and those who had watched on television were alarmed by the manner of the loss. Ferguson, who did not attend the Everton game, is said to have been involved in the process.
They then conversed again on Monday but the final decision to sack Moyes was not taken until Monday evening, before the Scot was informed early on Tuesday morning.
United were willing to grant Moyes a summer transfer budget of at least 100 million pounds and his dismissal had nothing to do with his transfer-market record, according to reports.
Instead, performances and results, rather than the additions of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, accounted for his dismissal.
Moyes' capacity to get the most out of his players at Everton formed part of his appeal to United when he was appointed last summer, but influential figures at Old Trafford became convinced he was not having the same effect with a different group of footballers.
With United, who earned 89 points on their way to winning the title last season, only having secured 57 so far this year and certain to end the campaign with their lowest tally in the Premier League era, the club felt players were not operating at the maximum of their ability for Moyes.
However, the United dressing room were not consulted about Moyes’ departure and nor will they have a role in selecting his successor, with the Old Trafford hierarchy unconcerned about whether they like the next manager, providing he can get the best out of them.
United are aware that there might not be a perfect manager and are prepared to consider all candidates of a certain stature, rather than restricting their search to a particular 'type.'
There are various criteria they will take into account, including an attacking brand of football, but they are not the be all and end all.
United are very much at the formative stages of their planning as, out of respect to the hard-working Moyes, they didn’t want to go behind his back when he was still employed.
Several figures at the club are expected to be involved in what they envisage will be a thorough search for their next manager.
Their preference is to appoint him before the World Cup, partly to enable him to prepare for summer transfer activity, but there is no timescale.