Manchester United fire David Moyes as manager

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The worst kept secret in soccer is out: David Moyes has been fired as manager of Manchester United.

On Tuesday, United released an extremely short statement on their website as Moyes was dismissed after less than a season in charge at Old Trafford.

Moyes was reportedly told his fate at an early morning meeting, as club legend Ryan Giggs will now take charge of first team matters for the final four games of the current campaign.

The 50-year-old Scotsman spent just nine months and 22 days in charge at United, and here is all the club had to say on his dismissal.

“Manchester United has announced that David Moyes has left the Club. The Club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.”

Moyes won 27 of his 51 games in charge of United, losing 15 and drawing nine with a win percentage of just 52.9 percent. The Red Devils will finish outside of the top four for the first time ever in the Premier League era, as their title defense has gone horribly wrong. Moyes simply wasn’t up to the job, as the most successful team in English soccer has been reduced to mediocre, at best, for most of the season.

(MORE: How the Manchester United job has become a poisoned chalice)

With rumors rife throughout the start of this week that United’s owners, the Glazer family, had lost faith in Moyes and were ready to give him the boot, the announcement came as no surprise. Following United’s 2-0 defeat to Moyes’ old club Everton on Sunday, Moyes tried to remain positive despite the totally abject and lackluster display which highlighted all that’s gone wrong during his ill-fated time in charge of the club.

(MORE: Candidates you need to know as Manchester United looks for a manager)

Moyes was handed a six-year deal at the start of the 2013-14 campaign as his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson handpicked him to lead United after Fergie called time on his 26 years in charge at Old Trafford. Yet nobody expected what was to come, as United spiraled out of control under Moyes and currently sit in seventh spot after damaging defeats throughout the 2013-14 season. Many have suggested Moyes has ‘lost the locker room’ as players lost faith in his managerial abilities, and from the way they’ve been playing it is hard to argue with that. Also, having Ferguson’s shadow looming large over Moyes every single day has made his job even more difficult. Plus the arrival of new Chief Executive Ed Woodward at the same time as Moyes meant that he couldn’t benefit from the decades of experience David Gill had in running the club successfully behind the scenes.

(MORE: Ryan Giggs appointed interim boss of Man United)

The reigning Premier League champions will finish outside the top four for the first time in PL history, they have lost a record 11 games in a single season so far this campaign and are set for their lowest ever points total which means no Champions League soccer next season. Financially the Glazer’s didn’t seem willing to hand Moyes a war-chest of over $200 million to bring in new players this summer, as the defeat to Everton meant that dreams of UCL soccer were officially ended, which in turn cost the club an estimated $75 million in lost revenue. That seemed to be the final straw.

(VIDEO: Where David Moyes went wrong at Man United)

With four games to go in the season, Moyes’ assistant coach and still a player at United, Ryan Giggs, will take over on a interim basis as the board weigh up without to promote from within or go out and get one of many managers being linked with the job. Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone and Louis van Gaal are the favorites to replace Moyes but many would like to see Giggs given the chance alongside his former teammate Nicky Butt.

This is what the club had to say on Giggs appointment as caretaker boss.

“Following the departure of David Moyes as manager, Manchester United has announced that Ryan Giggs, the club’s most decorated player, will assume responsibility for the first team until a permanent appointment can be made. The club will make no further comment on this process until it is concluded.”

The last time United fired a boss was Ron Atkinson back in 1986, as instability now rules the Red Devils as fans don’t know what to expect.

Moyes’ nightmare at United is finally over, as the Old Trafford try to move on and rebuild ahead of next season where they must return to the top four after their worst season in the PL era has cost Moyes his job after just nine months in charge.

MORE: Jurgen Klopp rules himself out of Manchester United gig
MORE: Candidates you need to know as Manchester United looks for a manager
VIDEO: Where David Moyes went wrong at Manchester United
MORE: Premier League Playback – Why Moyes should go

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

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Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

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The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday