Ryan Giggs will be assisted by a trio of former Manchester United team-mates from the “Class of 92” as he tries to stabilise the club after the abrupt dismissal of David Moyes.
The 40-year-old Giggs, United’s most decorated player, is in charge of the team for the final four matches of the Premier League season until a full-time replacement is hired. The Welshman presided over yesterday morning’s training session supported by Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville.
They are all products of the so-called Class of 92 youth team, which included David Beckham and was instrumental in United’s exceptional success under Sir Alex Ferguson.
It was Ferguson who hand-picked Moyes to succeed him after more than 26 years in charge but, during his fellow Scotsman’s ten-month reign, United went from Premier League champions to seventh-place strugglers.
In his first public comments since Tuesday’s firing, Moyes agreed that results “have not been what Manchester United and its fans are used to or expect”.
“I both understand and share their frustration,” he said in a statement released by the League Managers’ Association.
Moyes was troubled that he first learned about his impending firing in the media rather than directly from the American-owned club’s hierarchy.
“Throughout his time at United, David, as he always does, has conducted himself with integrity and professionalism, values that he believes in and that have been strongly associated with the club and its rich tradition,” LMA chief executive Richard Bevan said. “It is therefore sad to see the end of David’s tenure at United being handled in an unprofessional manner.”
Moyes used his statement to acknowledge the “dedication and loyalty” of his coaching staff, which included Giggs and Neville. Butt has been promoted to work with the first team under Giggs after coaching with United’s under-19 and under-21 teams. Scholes, who retired from playing last year, has returned to help out. Giggs, Butt, Neville and Scholes have made 2,453 appearances for United in total.
The next game for the 20-times English champions is against Norwich on Saturday, with the team now unable to finish in the Champions League places. Failure to reach Europe’s top club competition ultimately cost Moyes his job.
“Taking charge after such a long period of continuous stability and success at the club was inevitably going to be a significant challenge, but it was one which I relished and never had a second thought about taking on,” Moyes said.
“The scale of the manager’s job at United is immense, but I have never stepped away from hard work. We were fully focused and committed to the process of the fundamental rebuilding that is required for the senior squad.”
Louis van Gaal, who is leaving his position as Netherlands coach after the World Cup in Brazil and has previously coached Barcelona and Bayern Munich, is the favourite to succeed Moyes on a full-time basis.
Meanwhile, former Manchester United and Scotland manager Tommy Docherty says a reported rift between Moyes and his players was the “kiss of death” for his tenure at Old Trafford. Docherty, who left the Scotland job in December 1972 to begin a five-year stint as United boss, was typically forthright in his view of those under-performing players, while describing the task of following Sir Alex as “impossible”.
“Players are the kiss of death. As soon as you fall out with them they will stir up lots of trouble for you,” said the 85-year-old.
“The players have got to look at themselves and say: ‘What am I responsible for doing? Getting David Moyes the sack.’ It comes down to the players. David Moyes came in there under Fergie’s say-so, and they should have played to the best of their ability. But once one or two of them were left out of the team, or it seemed Moyes didn’t fancy them as a player, they just go in the hump and don’t bother their backside. That breeds contempt right away.
“It was an impossible task to follow Fergie with his record. No-one in a million years will do what Fergie did there. What can you do in ten months?”