Juan Mata has said that David Moyes was handed an ‘impossible’ task of being the first man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, although the three men to follow him have hardly done a better job.
Moyes was practically handed the Manchester United managers job in the summer of 2013, with Sir Alex Ferguson hand-selecting his successor following his illustrious 26 years in the Old Trafford dugout.
Having taken over the reigning Premier League champions, Moyes added Marouane Fellaini to the United ranks in the summer, before making Juan Mata the club’s record signing at the time the following January, the Spaniard arriving from Chelsea in a £37.5 million deal.
However, Moyes’ well-publicised struggles would see his spell at United lasting just 10 months, and Mata has said the Scotsman was handed an impossible task.
“It certainly had to be difficult to replace a figure like Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in football’s history. It was impossible, in fact,” Mata writes in his new book, ‘Juan Mata: Suddenly a footballer’.
“The first time I met David was seconds after coming out of a helicopter, as this is how I arrived at Manchester United’s AON Training Complex. Pretty cool, I know. Bond-style.
“He was waiting for us to land and welcomed me and my family with a big smile and these words: ‘Welcome to a fantastic club, a massive club. The biggest club there is.”
“Then he took us to his office and we talked. ‘Juan, I know what type of player you are, I know what you can bring to the team. I need a player like you who can link the play.’
“When I arrived, late January, the campaign was already halfway gone and things were not going too well. We were seventh in the league.
“Results were not materialising and the atmosphere was not ideal.”
A 2-0 defeat to Moyes’ former club Everton in April 2014 meant that Champions League football was mathematically unachievable, with the then 51-year-old being swiftly removed from office two days later.
While a number of pundits said that he wasn’t given enough time by the 13 time Premier League winners, Mata revealed that he was still ‘very classy’ in the way he accepted his departure.
“A few months later, after some more disappointing games, the club decided to part with Moyes and chose Ryan Giggs to look after the first team until the end of the season.
“The Moyes era had been much, much shorter than expected.
“Just like André Villas-Boas at Chelsea, he tried his best, as he is a committed and dedicated manager, but we were just not performing well and results were not good enough.
“Even at his farewell, he showed integrity and said goodbye to us in a very classy way, shaking all our hands and looking us all in the eye, wishing us good luck for the future.
“I made sure to thank him for bringing me here and wished him all the best.”
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