Manchester United face West Ham on Sunday with David Moyes looking to get one over on the club which sacked him seven-and-a-half years ago.
Moyes was chosen by Sir Alex Ferguson himself to be his successor, but he endured a nine-and a half month-long disaster as the club’s manager.
After a defeat of Everton by 2-0, Moyes was fired. This was the 11th Premier League defeat for United this season. They were unable to defend their title.
Ferguson was right to rate Moyes highly in recent months. His side has not lost this season, having finished in a remarkable sixth place last year to secure Europa League football.
We will never know if Moyes could have achieved success at United if given more time. His predecessor, before building a dynasty in English football that dominated it for two decades, was only nine-and-a-half months.
However a look back at Moyes’ last starting XI for United shows it was bursting with quality – with many still plying their trade at the highest level.
David de Gea
David de Gea is making the most of his opportunity to impress as United’s No1 this season after Dean Henderson’s enforced absence.
De Gea is United’s second-highest-paid player after Cristiano Rojo. But he has faced long-standing criticism for his form, and often played second fiddle with Henderson in the second part of last season.
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He has looked more solid this season, making a crucial double save in the win over Wolves, while it was his quick-thinking and accurate distribution on the counter-attack that led to Paul Pogba’s goal in United’s 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle last weekend.
Chris Smalling became a fans’ favourite at Roma after being shipped off on loan by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Harry Maguire’s arrival at United.
His performance in Italy was so good that many fans felt he should be kept at Old Trafford. The Giallorossi were so impressed with him, they signed him permanent last year.
The centre-back suffered various injury problems last season, and missed the start of this campaign with a hamstring issue.
Jose Mourinho’s former boss at United made Smalling his first appearance for the season as the Serie A leaders defeated CSKA Sofia in Thursday’s Europa Conference.
Phil Jones has had a bit of a mare, despite Ferguson predicting he would go on to become one of United’s greats
“Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player,” Ferguson said of the centre-half in 2013.
“I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, not matter where we play him. At 21 years of age, he is going to be a phenomenal player. I think he can play anywhere on the pitch.
“He has such a massive influence, with his instinct and reading of the game. He has a drive about him.”
Since 2014 Jones has been plagued with injuries, including a knee problem which has sidelined him since June last year.
As United’s under-23s lost 3-1 to Arsenal, Jones made his long-awaited return in Premier League 2.
Evans was sold by Louis van Gaal to West Brom in 2015, but his form since has shown United should have persevered with him.
After his return to the Baggies, Evans joined Leicester three years back. He has been a key player in Brendan Rodgers’ side, helping the Foxes achieve successive fifth-placed finishes, twice missing out on Champions League qualification.
Evans was 33 when he made his debut this season in Leicester’s Europa League draw with Napoli.
Evans lost to Everton in Moyes’ final game as United boss. Evans was replaced by Javier Hernandez at the hour. Hernandez had joined La Galaxy last season after winning silverware from Real Madrid and Sevilla.
Buttner only made one more appearance for United before being sold to Dinamo Moscow in 2014.
After failing to be recognized as the successor of Patrice Evra at United he struggled to get a regular position in Russia.
Buttner was reunited with Vitesse Arnhem in Holland in 2017 after a move to MLS side New England Revolution two year ago.
Buttner was without a club in January and is back playing for RKC Waalwijk. They are currently at the bottom of the Eredivisie Table.
Often severely underrated by fans of rival teams, Carrick was integral to United’s success in the latter years of Ferguson’s reign.
Ferguson won five Premier League titles under Carrick, as well as the Champions League and Club World Cup.
In his autobiography in his 2018, he recalled Moyes telling United’s squad he could take them “to another level”, but felt the manager’s words “didn’t come across the right way”.
Carrick was on United’s coaching team since 2018. Solskjaer could use a holding person with his passing accuracy and reading of the game.
Fletcher was of course appointed as United’s technical director earlier this year, after a hugely promising career was hampered by a serious illness.
After 342 matches for United, Fletcher moved to West Brom in pursuit of first-team football. His trophy haul was almost identical to that of his team-mate Carrick.
After a spell at Stoke, the Scotland international left for West Brom in search of regular first-team football. He then left the Britannia Stadium the summer of 2019. He hung up his boots six years later.
At just 37 years of age, he hopes to help United achieve more silverware success than his former team-mates Solskjaer or Carrick.
United hoped they had signed the next Cristiano Ronaldo when Nani joined from Sporting Lisbon in 2008.
The winger, while he was capable of causing havoc on defenders, didn’t reach the level of his compatriot.
Nani, who was on loan to Sporting in 2014, has four Premier League titles and the Champions League and Club World Cup. He also boasts 41 goals and 73 assists from his United appearances of 230.
Many Red Devils fans fondly remember him despite his declining form in his final years of Old Trafford. He then went on to play in the Champions League, Fenerbahce, Valencia, and Lazio, before returning to Sporting. Now, he is with Orlando City, in the MLS.
Moyes’ final United match saw Nani be replaced at the hour by Antonio Valencia. Valencia retired in May, having played in Mexico and Ecuador since he left United in 2019.
One of only a few senior signings made by Moyes at United, Mata is now 33 and has seen his playing time wane over the past couple of seasons.
However, he has still proven himself to be an invaluable squad member having made many starts in the Premier League Champions League as well as FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
Solskjaer often used him as a sub in the final stages of United’s Europa League campaign. Rio Ferdinand also stated that Mata has a lot of potential to contribute to the dressing room.
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“He is not as potent as he once was,” Ferdinand told FIVE. “He comes in and plays a little bit more as a conductor and someone who just keeps the ball and maintains possession more than anything.
“He can see that coaching element in Ferdinand. He is a brilliant footballer, a smart guy on the pitch, and he is a great team member, I must say.
“Some people have a big influence on that changing room and can influence others, and I think Juan Mata is one of those guys.”
Shinji Kagawa showed signs of brilliance after joining United in 2014, but ultimately failed to hold down a regular place and joined Borussia Dortmund in 2014.
Two Bundesliga titles and two German Cups were won by Kagawa with BVB. He scored 60 goals and made 55 assists in his 216 matches.
Kagawa ended up leaving the club and signed for PAOK Salonika in January 2019, after which he joined Real Zaragoza, the Spanish second-tier team in 2019.
Danny Welbeck replaced Kagawa at Goodison Park. Despite having suffered several injuries during his five years with Arsenal, Danny Welbeck scored six goals last season for Brighton after joining Graham Potter’s team just one year ago.
Moyes found himself managing Wayne Rooney again at Old Trafford, having given him his Everton debut two years before the teenage prodigy joined United.
Despite Ferguson’s failures, Rooney still managed 19 goals during the 2013/14 campaign.
He went on to become the country’s top goalscorer with 23 goals for United and 53 goals for England.
Rooney’s spell at Everton was disappointing after he returned to his boyhood club at age 31. Before that, he played for DC United in the 1980s and Derby County where he is the 35-year-old manager.