SIR Alex Ferguson’s influence at Manchester United will continue past his retirement after the Premier League champions followed his advice and appointed David Moyes as their next manager yesterday.
Everton manager Moyes, who had announced earlier that he would be leaving the Goodison club after 11 years in charge, was the hot favourite to take over from his fellow Scot at United and has signed a six-year contract from 1 July.
“When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes we unanimously agreed on David Moyes,” Ferguson, who is staying on at United as an ambassador and director, said in a statement. “David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I’ve admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here.
“He was a young man then at the start of his career and has since gone on to do a magnificent job at Everton. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager.”
Moyes is braced for the tough job of following Britain’s most successful manager, who retires at the end of the season after winning two Champions Leagues, 13 league titles and five FA Cups in 26 years.
“It’s a great honour to be asked to be the next manager of Manchester United. I am delighted that Sir Alex saw fit to recommend me for the job. I have great respect for everything he has done and for the Football Club,” said Moyes. “I know how hard it will be to follow the best manager ever but the opportunity to manage Manchester United isn’t something that comes around very often.”
Moyes will be in charge for Everton’s final two league games of the season against West Ham United and Chelsea. He added: “I have had a terrific job at Everton with a tremendous chairman and board of directors and a great set of players. Between now and the end of the season, I will do everything in my power to make sure we finish as high as possible in the table.”
While Moyes, 50, shares the steely glare, work ethic and Scots background of Ferguson, he has none of the trophies. The closest he came to silverware with Everton was the 2009 FA Cup, in which they lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the final. He is also a Champions League novice, having only once guided Everton to a place in Europe’s elite competition although they didn’t reach the group stage, going out 4-2 on aggregate to Villarreal in the third qualifying round in 2005-06.
Despite the lack of cups and titles, Moyes is seen by his new club as having the right qualities. His track record at Everton includes four top-six finishes, a knack for creating competitive teams with only modest resources and a reputation as a gritty, no-nonsense type of manager in a similar mould to Ferguson.
“His hard-working style and steely determination are characteristics we value,” United co-owner Joel Glazer said. “He has impressed as a coach for many years now and we strongly believe he will be able to take up from where Alex is leaving off by continuing this club’s tradition of flair football played by exciting, world-class players.”
One of Moyes’ first tasks could be to persuade striker Wayne Rooney to stay at the club following newspaper reports that the England international had once again asked to leave Old Trafford. A Manchester United spokesman said this week the player, whose form has been up and down this season, was not for sale.
Rooney began his career at Everton under Moyes but the two subsequently fell out over an account in one of Rooney’s autobiographies about how he came to sign for United. The England forward previously said he wanted to leave United in 2010 before performing a U-turn and signing a five-year contract extension.
While Moyes looks forward to his next post, the focus on Merseyside will now shift to filling their own vacancy with Wigan’s Roberto Martinez and Celtic manager Neil Lennon among the early front-runners. Lennon was last night made the 4/5 favourite after a series of bets on him in Northern Ireland.
“Everton officials will start the search for a replacement manager immediately,” a club statement said. “The chairman would like to place on record his thanks to David for the massive contribution he has made to Everton. He has been an outstanding manager.”
Strengths and weaknesses of a rising star
Like Ferguson, Moyes is a tough-as-teak Scot schooled on the streets of Glasgow. His healthy relationship with Ferguson will have helped his cause, but he has forged a reputation as a hard taskmaster himself and is known not to suffer fools or relent on what he wants. He may not have as big a reputation for combustion as Ferguson, but he is more than capable of standing his ground and is clearly a man of principle and honour. He has been with Everton for over a decade, putting him third in the list of the Premier League’s longest-serving managers. Moyes has remained loyal to Everton throughout and would only be leaving at the end of his contract. At United, his head would surely never be turned.
The pinnacle of club football these days, Ferguson has won it twice and lost another final. Moyes has made little impact on European competition. In 2005, Everton qualified for the Champions League but lost to Villarreal in qualifying and were then beaten by Dinamo Bucharest in the UEFA Cup.
With so many league titles, the Champions League is a higher priority at United than other clubs, and Moyes has never pitted his wits against the likes of Bayern’s Pep Guardiola or Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp. That does not mean he is not up to it, though, and time may well prove that he is.
For all the justified praise of Ferguson’s transfers, there have been some bad ones. Kleberson, Eric Djemba-Djemba and William Prunier spring to mind.
Moyes has a similar record to Ferguson, a largely successful one with the odd rogue player thrown in. Moyes’ work is perhaps more admirable owing to the constraints he has worked under. His capture of Tim Cahill for £2million and the Australian’s rise into one of the Premier League’s all-time great goalscoring midfielders rates highly, as does his shrewd acquisition of Manchester United outcast Tim Howard. He smartly invested in Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka too, meaning not-so-good buys such as Andy van der Meyde and Nuno Valente can be quickly skipped over.
While few would argue Moyes has worked wonders on slim budgets, a scant return of one final in 11 years is not a glittering statistic. Everton reached the 2009 FA Cup final and were beaten by Chelsea. But for a defensive switch-off against Liverpool in 2012 they would have reached the final again. Just the one showpiece is the bottom line, though, with Moyes trading largely on respect for a stable and efficient job.
1963: Born 25 April in Glasgow.
1980: Signs professional forms with Celtic.
1981: Plays against Juventus in the European Cup and represents Scotland Youth.
1982: Picks up a Scottish Premier League winner’s medal.
1983: Signs for Cambridge United.
1985: Moves to Bristol City.
1987: Signs for Shrewsbury.
1990: Moves back to Scotland with Dunfermline.
1993: Joins Preston.
1996: North End win Third Division. Moyes takes coaching role and is eventually appointed assistant manager.
1998: Promoted to manager.
2000: Preston romp to Second Division championship, racking up 95 points.
2001: Moyes takes Preston to within 90 minutes of the Premiership but they lose to Bolton in the play-off final.
2002: Becomes Everton manager.
2003: Named League Managers’ Association manager of the year for the first time
2005: May – Everton break the big-four cartel by finishing fourth in the Premier League, to qualify for the Champions League. Moyes is manager of the year a second time.
August - Champions League ambitions end at the first hurdle as Everton lose in qualifying round to Villarreal.
October - Everton sit bottom of the league, resulting in calls for Moyes’ head in some quarters. The Toffees stick with Moyes and recover to finish 11th.
2007: May: Steers Everton into the Uefa Cup with a sixth-place finish.
2008: March – The Blues lose on penalties to Fiorentina in the Uefa Cup last 16.
May– Everton finish fifth to qualify for the UEFA Cup again.
October: Moyes signs new five-year contract at Everton.
2009: April - Everton reach the FA Cup final but lose to Chelsea.
2012: Everton finish the 2011/12 season above arch-rivals Liverpool in the Premier League table for the first time in seven years.
2013: 9 May– Everton announce Moyes will leave at the end of the season. Manchester United later confirm he will take over as their manager on 1 July on a six-year contract.