5 key issues for Moyes' replacement to fix
MANCHESTER United are looking for a new long-term manager who is capable of restoring the English football giants to their former glory.
AFP Sports looks at five issues that will be on the top of the new man's in-tray:
1. BRING THE STYLE BACK
The statistics ultimately did the sacked David Moyes in - 11 league defeats; 23 points below leaders Liverpool; no Champions League qualification for the first time since 1995 - but the abrupt disappearance of the United swagger was equally disconcerting.
Under Moyes' predecessor, Alex Ferguson, United were renowned for their dashing football and never-say-die spirit, but under Moyes, they looked like a team without a soul. Gone were the thrilling counter-attacks and injury-time goals, replaced instead by a listless tactical conservatism.
2. REJUVENATE THE DEFENCE
While Moyes' successor will have a cluster of renowned attacking players at his disposal, he will also inherit a defence that has been creaking badly.
Captain Nemanja Vidic has already agreed to join Inter Milan and both Rio Ferdinand, 35, and Patrice Evra, 32, will soon be out of contract. Rafael da Silva, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling have been exposed at times.
A new central midfielder remains a key requirement, but the reconstruction of the United back four is likely to be the principal focus of the close-season recruitment drive.
3. DEVISE A SYSTEM THAT ACCOMMODATES ROONEY AND MATA
United signed Juan Mata from Chelsea for a club record £37.1 million (S$78 million) fee in January, but the Spaniard's Old Trafford career has yet to catch fire. He was typically used on the right of an attacking midfield triumvirate by Moyes, as the No. 10 role that he covets is currently the exclusive domain of Wayne Rooney.
Shinji Kagawa, a Ferguson signing who has also failed to find his feet, is another player who prefers to play as a central playmaker, and the new manager's ability to devise a system that successfully accommodates at least two of those players could determine his chances of success.
4. STOP THE LEAKS
Ferguson famously shut the media out, and stories of changing-room unrest were few and far between during his 261/2-year tenure.
The code of omerta appeared to disintegrate under Moyes, however, as reports of disagreements between him and players - including Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck - filtered out to the press.
If his successor is to get the whole club pulling in the same direction, he will need to be able to trust his players to keep their own counsel.
5. MAKE OLD TRAFFORD A FORTRESS AGAIN
Opposition teams used to quake at the prospect of a visit to Old Trafford, but during Moyes' reign, a trip to United's ground came to represent an opportunity to pull off a famous upset. United were scalped by West Bromwich Albion, Everton, Newcastle, Swansea and Sunderland.
Successive 3-0 defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City further dampened the atmosphere, and that unfamiliar sense of vulnerability will need to be washed out of the stadium's corridors before United can even think about returning to the summit of the European game.