David Moyes Manchester United
David Moyes and Manchester United, a marriage made in hellGetty

One year on from David Moyes and Manchester United parting ways, both the manager and the club find themselves in a better place.

Following the defeat to Everton on 20 April 2014, United were coming to terms with the confirmation of something they had seen coming for much of the season; failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the 1995-96 season.

Now, they are on the cusp of re-joining Europe's elite, with a runner up spot in the Premier League still firmly in their grasp.

The divorce has had an uplifting effect on the manager, too. After leaving Old Trafford with his reputation in ruins, Moyes has diligently worked towards restoring his standing in the game at Real Sociedad. His success in doing that can be measured by the frequency in which he is linked with a return to these shores, something the Scot believes is a possibility later down the line.

IBTimes UK considers why these two were always going to be better off without each other.

How Manchester United have grown without Moyes: The stats

During the worst of United's growing pains under manager Louis van Gaal, the Dutchman's critics gleefully pointed out the alarmingly similar records of him and his predecessor. United's worst start to a season since Ron Atkinson was in charge got the ball rolling, while Moyes's superior away record was another stick to beat the United boss with this term.

But with the end of the season in sight, the former Netherlands boss has already outstripped the Scot, taking 65 points from his 33 league games in charge. Moyes managed just 57 from 34, before being shown the door.

United were languishing in seventh that Tuesday afternoon when word came out of the manager's departure, 23 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool and 13 off fourth-place Arsenal. Fast forward a year and United are third, a point ahead of last season's champions, Manchester City.

The resurrection of Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini

Wins against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City have been heralded as United's best performances since the Sir Alex Ferguson era. At the centre of those exhilarating victories were three players: Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini.

Both Young and Fellaini were figures of ridicule under Moyes, tipped to be cast out of the club at the first opportunity once Van Gaal had walked through the door. But the Dutchman has overseen a startling transformation of the careers of the pair, something that seemed inexplicable in the summer of 2014.

Moyes earned acclaim for lifting the gloom enveloping Old Trafford in January 2014 with the then-record signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea. But it was clear from early on the former Everton boss was unsure how to deploy the Spaniard, something his replacement would also struggle with for the first seven months of his tenure. But Van Gaal's unerring ability to draw something remarkable from seemingly unlikely sources is a further indictment of Moyes's failings.

David Moyes
David Moyes had big shoes to fill at Old TraffordGetty

Van Gaal the commander in chief

In the summer of 2014, IBTimes UK considered the early signs suggesting a new sheriff had firmly arrived at Old Trafford. As the season has progressed, there has been plenty of further evidence to suggest everything now goes through the Dutchman.

From his concerns over the club's pre-season tours to the changes he has made to the training ground in order to replicate match conditions, Van Gaal has left no stone unturned in his quest to shape the club as he sees fit.

The personality required to take on all this is huge and Moyes's failure in this respect was a catalyst. Above buying new players, that was something United needed to address above all in 2014.

A brutal approach in the transfer market and the abandonment of sentimentality

While it was momentarily forgotten during United's title celebrations at the end of the 2012-13 season, the desperate need of surgery to a limited squad should have been a priority for Moyes upon his arrival.That never came, much to the cost of everyone associated.

Since the change in management, United have been brutal in their remodelling job as Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa were among the 14 cast out of the club. In the case of Welbeck, Van Gaal was blunt in explaining the decision to sell him, stating he simply did not believe he was good enough. It was another demonstration of the now unquestionable authority the Dutchman holds.

United reborn in clashes with the Premier League's elite

The lifeless performances of Moyes's charges in 3-0 defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool at Old Trafford were what inevitably sealed his fate. It was the continuation of a trend that saw United wilt when faced against the clubs they were hoping to gain ground on throughout that dismal campaign.

In meetings with City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur last term, United collected just six points and just one win in those 10 meetings. But the transformation in this area under Van Gaal has been clear for all to see, with 17 points collected having also a played a game less – Arsenal are still to visit Old Trafford, with a forthcoming trip happening in May.

Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal is doing a good job at Manchester United, despite a shaky startGetty

How Moyes has grown without Manchester United: A reputation restored?

Moyes's stock in football management is beginning to creep up once again and his cautious success at Real Sociedad, having not had to work under the pressure that came with the United job, has greatly benefited him.

Since taking the job at the Anoeta Stadium, he has increased La Real's points average per game from 0.8 to 1.2. While it has not been the most gripping of rises, Moyes can be credited with steering the club away from the threat of relegation this term.

With six games of the season remaining, the club are 10 points away from the drop zone with a significantly better goal difference than those around them. While unspectacular, the rise has helped restore his once battered reputation and should ensure clubs in England will be ready to offer him a return when the time comes.

Back to his roots – organisation and pragmatism

It has been a transitional season for Real Sociedad. Adjusting to life after Antoine Griezmann – who joined Atletico Madrid for £24m in the summer of 2014 – has been made harder by the frequent absences of Carlos Vela who has not started a game since 31 January.

Without the flair of the club's two best players from last term and working under a tight budget that saw the club fail to land anyone in the January target, Moyes's efforts to steady the ship at San Sebastian have come by doing what he knows best.

Real Sociedad's failed to keep a single clean sheet in their opening 11 games of the season but since the Scot's arrival, the club have since registered eight – four of those coming within his first two months on the job. While the club have failed to replicate the verve and excitement they operated under in their previous two campaigns, they are harder to beat since the new manager came in.

Scalps against Europe's elite

The most famous of those clean sheets came when Barcelona visited the Basque country in January. While it was a Jordi Alba own goal that gave his side the victory, it was the resolute performance implemented by Moyes that kept Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi out that night. Recording that win was vital to the rebuilding process of his reputation.