That was too much too bear. The title was snatched away at the last minute and the Noisy Neighbours had quietened United. Sir Alex Ferguson could not take that. He had done all he could, but now City were on top and he could not do it. There was too much stress to get back ahead and Fergie knew he was too old now. “Calling it a day would never be easy. My health hasn’t been brilliant lately, and it could take a turn for the worse at any time. I will still be staying with the club as a director, and I have had a brilliant run as manager. My only regret? Not managing to get United's 20th Premier League title. So boys, next year, I want you to go out and knock City off their perch. Thank you everyone, it's been an honour.”
Ferguson was finally gone. The Glazers were on the search for their new manager, and Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjær were rumoured to be in the running. However, it was the Everton manager David Moyes who was given a one-year deal, the board selecting him under the advice of Ferguson himself. Moyes had stayed at Everton for nearly 10 years and had kept them out of relegation trouble despite a limited budget, the question was now what he could do with a budget.
The Moyes era was underway. His first move was to bring in highly rated Mexican youngster Carlos Fierro, reportedly on the recommendation of ex-United player Andrei Kanchelskis. He then returned to Everton to snatch midfielder Marouane Fellaini for £25m, a player who Ferguson had confirmed interest in a few months before. Robert Lewandowski came in for £28m giving Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney some competition, but Moyes made headlines by selling key players Nani, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Patrice Evra, and saying that he would not use wingers. He showed off his tactics to the public and claimed that they would win the league with his fine tuned tactics such as the False 4-1-2-1-2 and the 4-2-3-1 Dominator. Stoke City would travel to Old Trafford for Moyes’ first competitive game.
Moyes’ reign started brilliantly with a 4-2 win over Stoke, with Tom Cleverley bagging 3 goals on the way to victory. They kept the form up with wins over West Ham and Sunderland before a goalless draw with Chelsea. The Champions League campaign was also underway with United drawn against PSG, Galatasaray and Valencia, but despite being favourites to top the group United crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, leaving critics wondering if Moyes was up to the task of building a Champions League winning side. Moyes agreed a £17.5m deal to bring Leighton Baines to Old Trafford and just days later United drew Everton in the Capital One Cup. The two teams played each other twice in 10 days and United prevailed both times, winning 2-0 in the cup and a fantastic 4-0 in the league, both at Old Trafford. Despite the early setback against Galatasaray, Manchester United tore PSG apart in Paris for a 2-1 win before a comfortable victory away at Valencia. However, they had slipped down to 3rd in the Premier League table after a defeat at Norwich, but they were soon back ahead of Tottenham, going into 2nd after a great team performance dismantled Fulham at Craven Cottage. After a 3-0 at home to Valencia, 1st choice left-back Alexander Buttner picked up an injury to keep him out for 3 months leaving United with no left back.
It was time for the second game between the 2 sides. Manchester United would travel to Turkey this time, welcomed by banners saying ‘Welcome to Hell’. United showed no fear, dominating the game and defending well, but not quite having the edge needed to win the game. Nonetheless, United progressed through to the next round, even after a loss to PSG, while Galatasaray surprisingly topped the table, and they went through to the Semi-Final of the Capital One Cup after a win over Newcastle, yet City still led the league table. United closed the gap with some narrow wins over West Brom and Stoke, but they were unable to get the 3 points off Liverpool, having to settle with a goalless draw. The January transfer window saw 4 more players joining, Leighton Baines finally arriving along with German Julien Brandt and 14 year old Hachim Mastour, before Enzo Zidane, the son of one of the games greats, Zinedine Zidane, joined from Real Madrid. United drew rivals Manchester City in the Capital One Cup semi-finals and won the first leg 1-0, and when they won the second leg 4-1 after a glorious win over Everton, Manchester United had finally beaten City into 2nd. A 4-0 win over Swansea followed.
Barcelona would be the team that United were to face in the 1st knockout round of the Champions League. An first half goal from Javier Hernandez put United ahead, and they kept the lead to claim a memorable victory, yet it wasn’t the only important game for the Red Devils. The Capital One Cup final was round the corner and United would be shocked to find out that after seeing off Man City in the semi’s they would face minnows Burnley in the final. Burnley’s manager Sean Dyche tried to gain an advantage with critical comments on Robert Lewandowski and made bold claims that they would win. After 58 minutes, his prophecy could well have been spot on, as Burnley took the lead through David Edgar despite key man Junior Stanislas going off with a broken leg. Lewandowski had been ineffective but soon afterwards he played Wayne Rooney through who was unable to score but Javier Hernandez picked up the loose ball and scored, and Lewandowski got one of his own in extra time, celebrating by laughing in Dyche’s face. A sublime Paul Scholes volley sealed the victory, and Manchester United had won the Capital One Cup.
There was no time to celebrate as star midfielder Michael Carrick refused a new deal, and Norwich managed a draw at Old Trafford. Barcelona were unable to overcome the great defence Moyes had built as a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp sent the Catalans out. Peterborough, managed by Darren Ferguson who was the son of United legend Alex, would host the champions-elect in the F.A. Cup Semi final, but first came the next Champions League fixture. Cristiano Ronaldo was returning to Old Trafford, but he could not inspire Madrid to a victory, as the Portuguese winger could not get past United’s makeshift back line. A win over Newcastle preceded the second leg, where Wayne Rooney scored a screamer early on to put the Reds through. A young United side saw off Peterborough to reach the F.A. Cup Final. A win over Q.P.R. and a rival defeat of Liverpool put Moyes’ side 6 points clear.
A historical draw for Bayern Munich to play United in the Champions League Semi Final saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer invited to Old Trafford as guest of honour, but late heroics were not needed as Wayne Rooney bagged an amazing hat trick. The second leg at the Allianz Arena was not so easy, but it was the same man, Wayne Rooney, who put United ahead. Bayern equalised, but it was not enough and Manchester United were sent through, winning 4-1 on aggregate. In the first leg of the other Semi Final, Arsenal had demolished Chelsea and they had come away with a 3-0 win, practically in the final already. A shocking second leg saw Chelsea return from the dead, and former Man United winger Antonio Valencia managed the winner as Chelsea won 4-3 on aggregate. In the league however, Manchester City had dropped points. And now, all United needed was a draw in their next game, to secure the title. The game was at the Etihad Stadium. They would face City.
The match was a close affair. City needed a victory whilst United knew their fate was in their own hands. Javier Hernandez gave them the early lead, but City hit back, and before they knew it, City were ahead. Could the Blues rescue the title? United needn’t have worried. Jonny Evans popped up to score late on and United had drawn level, 12 points ahead of City with 3 games left. All they needed was a draw, and they got a draw. Tottenham were closing in on City but United were running away from City, and now they could not be caught. The title was theirs, and they had won it in the best place possible; the home of Manchester City.
The Premier League title was not the only title available to United. After beating Peterborough in the semi finals, they would face minnows Brighton just as they had faced Burnley in the Capital One Cup. Brighton had beaten Manchester City on the way, and another upset looked to be on the cards as Brighton went ahead after 22 minutes. However, Wayne Rooney hit back instantly and Lewandowski got his name on the scoresheet too, putting United ahead as expected at half time. The second half was a cagey affair, United relaxing on the ball and allowing Brighton to take the game to them, but United held out and the F.A. Cup was theirs. Moyes said after the game, "Our third trophy this year, it's unbelievable Jeff! The boys played brilliantly, and didn't let their heads drop when we went 1-0 down. They definitely deserve this, it's a great way to add to our success in the Premier League. This has been a great season, for me, for the players, for the club, and for the fans. This win is for the fans, they've been absolutely fantastic this year, we can't thank them all enough."
The F.A. Cup was theirs.
Despite the great achievements, Moyes caused controversy by saying that he did not want to win the F.A. Cup, and claiming he had put out weaker sides to make sure they could progress in the Champions League. Speaking to Nick Warner of BBC Sport, he said "Sure, winning the FA Cup was great, but to tell the truth, I didn't want it. When realising we had the potential to go all the way in the FA Cup or the Champions League, I had to pick one. We had too many games to play, and simply didn't have the squad depth. It would be near impossible to play a strong side in both without fatigue hitting us. I chose the Champions League, and would field weaker teams in the FA Cup."
The Champions League Final was coming up, and United would face Chelsea.
The game was to be played at Wembley Stadium and Chelsea were confident, as their recent form had been great whereas United were inconsistent, but Marouane Fellaini opened the scoring early on. Frank Lampard pounced on a rebound late in the half to level the scores as the teams went in at the break. A piece of magic early on in the second half from Robert Lewandowski put United ahead with a great goal. He dashed through the defence and passed the ball through the keeper’s legs. 40 minutes later, the final whistle blew and Manchester United had won the Champions League! Champions Of Europe Once Again! Glory Glory Man United!
United had not only won that. They had completed the quadruple, winning 4 trophies in one amazing season, and there was no doubt that other clubs would soon be wanting Moyes as their manager after he delayed a contract offer. Dortmund gave him a contract and many thought he was going to leave but he posted an article on Manchester United’s website speaking of his decision, which was to stay. So will David Moyes be the new Fergie? Only time will tell.
All we know now, is that Moyes’ Boys, are the best boys in town.