CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan watched Manchester United’s campaign last season with heightened interest, rooting for his old manager David Moyes as he stepped into Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes after the Scotsman’s retirement as the Red Devils’ manager.
It didn’t go as hoped.
United struggled to their worst season since the English Premier League was founded in 1992, limping to a seventh-place finish – not good enough to qualify for a European competition – with a 19-12-7 record, resulting in Moyes’ firing.
Donovan has great affection for Moyes, who coached him in two fruitful, short-term loan stints at Everton, and there was plenty of talk after he took charge at Old Trafford that the most revered US player would be joining him.
Was there any truth to that? Nope, said Donovan, who is readying to take on United – under new manager Louis van Gaal – in the LA Galaxy’s friendly Wednesday night at the Rose Bowl (10:30 pm ET, Fox Sports 1).
And although Donovan, 32, holds warm feelings for his time at Everton, he doesn’t expect to return to the English Premier League.
"I think that chapter’s probably over," he told reporters after LA’s training session Monday morning at StubHub Center. "I’ll certainly be back – I doubt as a player – but as I’ve said many times, Everton grabbed a big part of my heart, so I’ll be back at some point."
Donovan said he was disappointed Moyes didn’t have more success with United.
"It was hard for me to watch last season, because I was pretty close to David Moyes when I was at Everton, and I was rooting for him to do very well," he said. "It was a little bit difficult to see them struggle.
"… It’s never easy. I’m not a manager, I don’t know what it’s like to go through something like that. For me, David was first and foremost just a great man, a great human being. He believed in me, he believes in his players. And sometimes things don’t go your way. Sometimes results don’t go your way. That’s part of life, and you have to deal with it."
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United had never finished worse than third in the EPL and won 13 titles in 21 EPL campaigns under Ferguson, including five of the previous seven. Moyes was largely blamed for the downturn, and he was dismissed in April, less than 10 months after making the move from Everton. He is currently without a club.
"I have no doubt that, eventually, he’ll land on his feet," Donovan said. "He didn’t become a terrible manager because of one season. He’s built a great reputation for a reason, and I think he’s an excellent manager."