David Moyes began the season as United's new manager after taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired after 27 years in charge. He had actually been announced as the club's new manager before the end of the previous season, but did not officially take over until 1 July 2013.
Despite winning the FA Community Shield in his first game and guiding United to a 4-1 win at Swansea City in the opening Premier League ficture, United were soon struggling in the league and endured some of their worst results since the end of the 1980s.
Despite suffering a first hurdle exit from the FA Cup at home to Swansea City, United reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage, beaten 4–2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich. They had overcome a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in the previous round against Olympiacos to win the second leg 3-0. They reached the semi-finals of the Football League Cup but were beaten on penalties in the second leg at Old Trafford by Sunderland.
On 22 April 2014, with four games remaining, Moyes was sacked as Manchester United manager, less than a year into his six-year contract. His last game, two days earlier, had ended in 2-0 defeat at his old club Everton. 40-year-old player-coach Ryan Giggs was placed in charge for United's remaining games, from which they collected seven points. A seventh place in the league was United's lowest finish since 1990 and meant that they had missed out on European qualification for the first time since 1989 (when English clubs were still banned from European competitions due to the Heysel disaster of 1985). The last time outside the Heysel ban era that United had missed out on a place in Europe was in 1981.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal was confirmed as Manchester United's new manager on a three-year contract on 19 May 2014, with Giggs appointed as his assistant. On the same day, Giggs announced his retirement as a player after a career spanning nearly 25 years, during which he had played almost 1,000 competitive games for the club and won 22 major trophies.
United preceded their 2013–14 campaign with a global tour, including trips to Thailand for the first time since 2001, Australia for the first time since 1999, Japan for the first time since 2008, and Hong Kong for the first time since 2005.
On the way back from Hong Kong, the team stopped in Sweden for a fixture against AIK on 6 August, before returning to England to play in Rio Ferdinand's testimonial match against Sevilla on 9 August, which marked the defender's 11 years with the club.
United started the match brightly and scored within six minutes, with Robin van Persie nodding in a Patrice Evra cross. The Dutchman then doubled his goal tally and United's lead in the 59th minute when his left-footed shot found the back of the net, via some help from a James Perch deflection. The scores remained unchanged until the final whistle, meaning that Van Persie's double had secured Manchester United their first silverware of the season, and also David Moyes's first (and ultimately, only) honour as the club's manager.
The fixtures for the 2013–14 season were announced on 19 June 2013. The club began their season on 17 August 2013 with a visit to Swansea City. They will end their season on 11 May 2014 with an away match against Southampton.
David Moyes' first league game in charge of Manchester United came against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on 17 August. Two quickfire goals in two minutes from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck put the visitors in control of the match, before Van Persie grabbed his second with a superb strike from outside the penalty area. Swansea's summer signing and Premier League debutant Wilfried Bony scored to reduce the deficit eight minutes from time, only for Welbeck to restore United's three-goal lead with a lobbed shot over Swansea keeper Michel Vorm.
United's first home game of the season was against José Mourinho's Chelsea, who were leading the table having played a match in advance due to their participation in the UEFA Super Cup. Although David Moyes and his side saw more of the possession, neither team was able to break the deadlock and the match ultimately ended in a stalemate.
The club's next match was away at Anfield against fierce rivalsLiverpool, who were one of only two teams in the Premier League who had maintained a 100% win record. Brendan Rodgers' men took an early lead through Daniel Sturridge in the fourth minute, and his goal turned out to be decisive as United failed to respond. The loss was Manchester United's first of the league campaign, and also David Moyes' first competitive loss as club manager.
After the international break, Manchester United returned to action against newly promotedCrystal Palace at Old Trafford. Palace were reduced to 10 men and conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time, as Kagisho Dikgacoi saw a straight red for his challenge on Ashley Young. Van Persie converted the subsequent spot-kick to give the home side the advantage just before the break. Wayne Rooney then sealed the win with nine minutes left on the clock, as he found the back of the net with a close-range free kick.
United then travelled across town to play their much anticipated fixture against local rivalsManchester City. City opened the scoring through Sergio Agüero in the 16th minute, then doubled their lead via Yaya Touré seconds before half-time. Any thoughts of a comeback for the visitors were dispersed soon after the restart, as Agüero grabbed his second and City's third in the 47th minute. Samir Nasri then added his own name to the scoresheet three minutes later to compound United's misery. Rooney managed to pull a goal back with a 25-yard free kick late on into the game, but it was merely consolation as United fell to their worst defeat at the Etihad Stadium in nine years.
On 28 September, Manchester United hosted West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. The visitors took the lead in the 54th minute through Morgan Amalfitano, but United responded quickly, levelling the scores with a Rooney free kick three minutes later. However, West Brom hit back immediately, with 20-year-old substitute Saido Berahino grabbing the winner as David Moyes' side slipped to their first home defeat of the season.
On a run of back-to-back Premier League defeats, United then travelled to the Stadium of Light to play against league strugglers Sunderland. Much to David Moyes' dismay, it was once again the opposition who struck first, as Craig Gardner capitalised on Nemanja Vidić's error to put the hosts ahead. However, United fired back, as 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj scored twice on his first Premier League start, rescuing a valuable three points for the visitors.
The Red Devils then began a run of four consecutive home games at Old Trafford, beginning with a visit from high-flying Southampton, who boasted the best defensive record in the Premier League. Van Persie's 26th-minute strike looked to have set the hosts on course for a win, but the visitors equalised through a last gasp corner kick, with Dejan Lovren's header deflecting off of Adam Lallana to spoil United's celebrations.
The club then welcomed Mark Hughes' and his Stoke City side to Old Trafford. Despite holding the worst goalscoring record in the Premier League, Stoke unexpectedly drew first blood through Peter Crouch in the third minute. Van Persie looked to have levelled proceedings heading into half-time with a 43rd-minute strike, but the visitors soon regained their lead seconds before the break, this time through a Marko Arnautović free kick. With the game entering its final 15 minutes, United finally found their equaliser as Rooney headed in Van Persie's corner kick, and less than two minutes later, substitute Javier Hernandez completed the comeback as he nodded in Patrice Evra's cross.
On 2 November, Manchester United visited Fulham at Craven Cottage. United began brightly, as Rooney set up Antonio Valencia for the game's opener in the ninth minute, and cemented their lead a few minutes later after two quick-fire goals from Van Persie and Rooney. Alexander Kačaniklić's heavily deflected shot pulled one back for the hosts in the 65th minute, but it was not enough in the end to prevent David Moyes' side from taking the three points, as his team won two consecutive league games for the first time all season.
United then clashed with rivals and league leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford. Van Persie, who had left the Gunners to join United the previous season, once again struck against his former side after his header found the back of the net in the 27th minute. Despite the visitors looking largely dominant possession wise throughout the match, solid defending from the hosts were enough to see through a win, as United recorded a memorable victory over Arsène Wenger's in-form men.
David Moyes' men then returned to South Wales, as they were presented with the opportunity to extend their impressive domestic run against Cardiff City at the Cardiff City Stadium. Rooney put the visitors ahead with just 15 minutes played, and after former Manchester United team-mate Fraizer Campbell equalised for the home side, he set up Evra's header to restore the lead just before the break. However, United were once again unravelled by a last gasp set-piece, as substitute Kim Bo-Kyung nodded in a free-kick to salvage a draw for the Welsh side.
United's next game was away against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Kyle Walker fired the hosts into an early lead with a close-range free kick in the 18th minute, but man of the moment Wayne Rooney pounced to equalise for United moments later. However, André Villas-Boas' men raced into the lead once again after the restart, this time through a Sandro rocket from 25 yards out, forcing the visitors to come from behind a second time through a Rooney penalty kick.
The following two matches at home ended with 1–0 losses against Everton and Newcastle United (both of whom ended long runs without wins at Old Trafford). Those losses meant United were winless in the last four games with only two points collected from a possible 12. United then won four matches in a row, which included win at Aston Villa, Hull City and Norwich City alongside a win at home against West Ham United, but they lost a fourth home league match in a 2–1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, leaving them down in seventh. After bowing out of the FA Cup to Swansea City the week before, a much-improved second half display saw United come out on top. Antonio Valencia opened the scoring with a tap-in before Danny Welbeck flicked in the second from Patrice Evra's shot.
But the high was short-lived as a defensive horror show meant the Reds left Stamford Bridge with no points. Samuel Eto'o scored a hat-trick and Javier Hernandez scored a consolation before Nemanja Vidić was sent off. But United made it back-to-back home wins for the first time since November as new-signing Juan Mata helped them see off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff City. Robin Van Persie returned to score before Ashley Young fired in to seal the points.
But again United didn't follow it up with a win. A Michael Carrick OG put them behind at Stoke before Van Persie converted from Mata's pass. But a screamer from Charlie Adam meant United returned from Staffordshire empty-handed.
United also fell behind in their next game, at home to bottom-side Fulham. Steve Sidwell shocked Old Trafford as United piled forward in search of the win. Mata's cross for fired in by Van Persie, and minutes later Carrick scored his first goal of the season with a neat finish from the edge of the box. But Darren Bent's injury-time goal meant
United dropped two vital points again. But United played well to come away from the Emirates with a 0-0 draw, denying Arsenal for the second time this season. Van Persie had two great chances to score but was denied by Arsenal keeper Szczesny. United got back to winning ways with a comfortable victory at Crystal Palace. Van Persie converted a penalty after Evra was fouled, before Rooney expertly volleyed in to seal the win.
United's third away game in succession saw them travel to the ground where Sir Alex bowed out of the Premier League: The Hawthorns and West Bromwich Albion. United eased to a 3-0 victory. Phil Jones headed in Van Persie's dangerous free kick just before half time. A sweeping move ended with Wayne Rooney heading in Rafael's right-wing cross. Sub Danny Welbeck expertly finished off another fine move as United finally delivered a good performance.
United returned to Old Trafford up against form side and old rivals Liverpool. After a tight first half, Steven Gerrard gave the visitors the lead from the penalty spot after Rafael handled. The Liverpool captain added a second penalty after a foul by Phil Jones seconds into the second half. After United were denied a penalty of their own, the Merseyside club were awarded a third penalty which saw United captain Nemanja Vidić sent off. Replays suggested Daniel Sturridge actually dived, but Gerrard missed. Luis Suárez completed the scoring after a neat attack.
United got back to winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 win away at West Ham. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring with a half volley from just inside the West Ham half, reminiscent of Beckham's goal against Wimbledon in 1996. The England striker added his second after Mark Noble failed to clear Ashley Young's cross.
Another poor performance saw United slip to another costly derby defeat, this time to neighbours Manchester City in the 150th Manchester Derby. Edin Džeko finished off a rebound to give City the lead after just 47 seconds. The City striker volleyed in number two in the second half, before Yaya Touré completed the rout in added time.
On 29 March, 2014, a flypast was staged by United fans with the banner displaying "Wrong One - Moyes Out" in seven-foot high lettering during a match against Aston Villa at Old Trafford. After the match, which United won 4–1, Moyes said the majority of fans had been "very supportive" of him.
Despite that comment, and United's 4-0 win over Newcastle United, the club would fire Moyes less than a month later, on 22 April. It happened shortly after United lost 0-2 to Moyes' old club Everton at Goodison Park.
Ryan Giggs took over as interim player-manager for the final four games. His first game as manager was a 4-0 thrashing to Norwich City at Old Trafford, with Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata each scoring a pair. However, the next match resulted in a shock 0-1 defeat to strugglers Sunderland, a result which ultimately proved a fatal blow to United's slim Europa League hopes. This was followed by a 3-1 win over Hull City in the club's final home match of the season, and Giggs's farewell game at Old Trafford.
The final day saw United playing away at Southampton, needing a victory and for Spurs to lose against Aston Villa in order to take sixth place. Ultimately, neither result went United's way, as they only managed to draw while Spurs won. This meant that for the first time since the 1989-90 season (or the 1980-81 season, if the seasons when English clubs were barred from European competition in the aftermath of the Heysel Disaster are not counted), the club had failed to qualify for any form of European football whatsoever.
United entered the FA Cup at the Third Round stage with the other Premier League clubs, as well as those from the Championship. The draw was made on 8 December 2013, which saw United drawn at home to fellow Premier League club Swansea City. The tie took place on 5 January 2014. The Swans won for the first time at Old Trafford resulting in United exiting from the competition.
As one of seven English clubs who qualified for European competition in the 2012–13 season, United received a bye to the Third Round of the League Cup. The draw took place on 28 August 2013, with United being paired with fellow Premier League club Liverpool. It is the fourth time overall the two rivals have met in the competition and the first time since the 2003 final, where Liverpool ran out 2–0 winners. The game was played on 25 September 2013 in Old Trafford, with United winning thanks to a goal by Javier Hernández in the 46th minute after a corner kick by Rooney. After the game United were drawn to play against Norwich City on 29 October at home, which United won 4–0. The draw for the Fifth Round took place on 30 October 2013, with United being paired with fellow Premier League club Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. The game was played on 18 December 2013, with United winning 2–0. The draw for the Semi-finals took place on 18 December 2013, with United being paired with fellow Premier League club Sunderland. They lost the first leg of the tie 2–1 at the Stadium of Light. In the return leg at Old Trafford, they were leading 1–0 at the end of 90 minutes and the tie went to extra time. Both teams scored late goals at the end of extra time, meaning that the two sides were exactly level over the two legs. In the resulting penalty shoot-out, Adnan Januzaj, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and Rafael all missed their kicks; only Darren Fletcher scored, while Sunderland scored two of their own, putting United out of the competition.
United's first UEFA Champions League group game was at home against Bayer Leverkusen on 17 September 2013, which ended in a 4–2 win after Rooney double and a strike apiece from Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia. The game marked Moyes' first UEFA Champions League group stage game and Rooney's 200th goal in all competitions for United.
The draw for the round of 16 was made in Nyon, Switzerland, on 16 December 2013. The first leg will be played on 25 February 2014 away from home, and the second leg will be played on 19 March 2014 at Old Trafford. As winners of their group, United were drawn against defending Greek league champions, Olympiacos, who finished as runners-up in Group C. It will be the fifth tie between the two clubs and the first time they have faced one another since 2002 when United won 3–2 in the First group round.