David Moyes resigns as Sunderland manager after furious clashes with players and staff
Moyes’s relationship with his players had almost completely disintegrated by the time the Scot resigned yesterday following a meeting with club owner Ellis Short and accusations surfaced afterwards on social media that centre-back Lamine Koné and another player had refused to play against Chelsea on the final day of the season on Sunday, although this has been strenuously denied by the defender’s representatives.
The former Everton and Manchester United manager would have stayed on after relegation only if he had been allowed to completely overhaul the squad.
The Daily Telegraph revealed earlier this month that Moyes had demanded the funds necessary to sign an entirely new team as he was disgusted with the attitude of the players already at the club.
In turn, several were disillusioned with him. Sources have indicated the disgruntlement began when Moyes cancelled the players’ Christmas party after a poor start to the season and escalated during the January transfer window when he made it clear he wanted to replace many of them.
Sunderland had made a habit of changing the man in the dugout to spark a late escape from relegation and few inside the dressing room could understand why Moyes had been told his job was safe when results were so bad. The side have not been out of the bottom three since August.
The Scot had misgivings about the quality of the players he inherited from Sam Allardyce in July, but had initially been willing to make the best out of a bad situation.
However, as the season unfolded, he privately accused several of failing to try hard enough, either in matches or in training and frequently lost his temper.
In turn, his relationship with staff was also damaged, with resentment towards him festering behind the scenes. Most recently, there is believed to have been tension between himself and medical staff over the availability of players. He also had to apologise to a female TV reporter after threatening to give her “a slap” during a post-match interview.
Since relegation to the Championship was confirmed three weeks ago, Moyes has suggested publicly that some players were not as badly injured as they claimed, although he stopped short of accusing them feigning injury to get out of playing for the club.
It is thought Moyes had suggested Sunderland would need to spend around £40 million in order to construct a team good enough to secure promotion and headed into his meeting with Short in London yesterday still hoping to be given the green light to carry on.
He was instead told there would be little money to spend, even if he managed to sell goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for £30 million. Short had initially asked for time to think about the proposal, but the American does not feel he can sanction that sort of spending when the club are already heavily in debt.
That could well make the task of replacing Moyes a difficult one. The early favourite is thought to be the former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka, whose family are settled in Durham and who is desperate to remain in English football.
He is likely to face competition from former Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson, while it could even be an attractive first job away from United for Ryan Giggs. The former Wales international has been waiting patiently for the right job to come up and will be aware Roy Keane launched his coaching career at Sunderland.
Moyes was so depressed about what he was told yesterday that he resigned almost immediately, stepping down without any compensation. That, though, will do little to repair the damage to his reputation.
The 54-year-old has failed in his past three jobs, lasting just 10 months at United before a spell in Spain with Real Sociedad also ended with his dismissal.
It has been a hugely frustrating return to English football for someone who was regarded as one of Britain’s best during his time at Everton and he will be annoyed at choosing Sunderland, given he previously turned down offers from the likes of West Ham, Aston Villa and Swansea City.
Although he was unwilling to give Moyes the money he wanted this summer, Short had remained supportive, refusing to sack him, even though many fans were desperate for him to leave months ago. He had also stressed that he wanted him to stay on in the Championship, but Moyes has thrown in the towel.
“I pursued the services of David Moyes for a considerable period prior to his appointment last summer, which makes the announcement of his departure difficult for everyone concerned,” Short told the club’s official website.
“Having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character.
“In the days ahead we will take some time for reflection, and then focus on recruitment and pre-season as we prepare for our Championship campaign. We wish David well in the future.”
Moyes said: “I would like to thank Ellis Short and the Board for giving me the opportunity to manage Sunderland and the fans for always being so passionately supportive of their club. I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion.