x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

David Moyes might not be the ‘Chosen One’ at Old Trafford for much longer

A banner in the Stretford End symbolises fans' support for their manager this season. Now there is a clamour to take it down.

Manchester United fans have displayed a banner at Old Trafford this season honouring David Moyes. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Manchester United fans have displayed a banner at Old Trafford this season honouring David Moyes. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

David Moyes walked out pitchside at Old Trafford and looked to his left. A 10-metre, red-and-white banner, paid for by Manchester United supporters, hung in the Stretford End with the words “The Chosen One” alongside an image of the Scot’s serious visage.

Not every new manager receives such a welcome, but then, not every manager receives a ringing endorsement from Sir Alex Ferguson.

United’s legendary manager was so revered that he could have praised Brendan Rogers and Liverpool’s manager would have been given half a chance by United fans.

Fans sang Moyes’s name from his first game in charge. The anointed successor would show his appreciation with a wave or a fist and would make a point of going to the travelling supporters at away games. It was appreciated.

They knew Moyes needed support and he received it at every match until this month, when the 2,000 travelling fans at in Greece started the match by singing his name and finished it by arguing over whether he was the right man to manage United.

The loss to Olympiakos was a turning point for many previously supportive fans and Sunday’s humiliation at home to Liverpool saw another downward swing in support for Moyes.

In polls among match-going fans, over 80 per cent of them want Moyes to be dismissed. They don’t make the decisions, but they have had enough. They feel like they have been patient and far more supportive than would fans of other clubs, but that it is simply not working out with him in charge of the team.

The dissent has yet to spread to the stadium, though, and Sunday’s game finished with the majority inside Old Trafford singing songs in support of their team and their proud history of a record 20 league titles. That was not explicit support for Moyes, which has been ebbing away, but it was mightily impressive.

Still, the “Chosen One” banner stood firm and the United directors – plus all the club’s main sponsors who had flown in for the game – were struck by the incessant support in such dire circumstances.

Now there is even talk of taking down the banner down in disgust, or covering it up to show declining support for the manager.

For all the online anger from fans, the majority don’t actually go to matches and would be in no position to take down any banner.

Of those who do, there is a reluctance to lead the call to dismiss Moyes, especially when United need backing in a huge game against the Greek champions.

Positive fans say the whole stadium should get behind the team in the hope of coming back from the 2-0 first-leg defeat. That may happen, but if United are eliminated and lose to Manchester City next week, the chances of the banner staying up are slim.

Its removal would be symbolic, a visual, public loss of trust from the fans who most wanted Moyes to succeed. But as Moyes knows, he is in a results business and his team are failing badly.

The Chosen One could become the Chosen Gone.

sports@thenational.ae