Manchester United have made the announcement that everyone has been waiting for. On the recommendation of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United board has unanimously agreed to the appointment of David Moyes as the new manager at Old Trafford.
Everton’s remaining two Premier League games against West Ham and Chelsea will be the final games that Moyes will be in charge. In his 11 years at the club, Moyes took charge of the team on over 500 occasions.
As managerial reigns go, few can hold a candle to Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at United. In 26 and a half years, Sir Alex won 38 trophies, helped to develop numerous world-class stars like Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, oversaw the rapid expansion of Old Trafford to its current 75,000-plus capacity and made the squad a team to be feared. But can Moyes continue this era of success?
A safe choice
Manchester United’s appointment of Moyes as their new manager signals a clear choice of direction: rather than going down the route of choosing one of the household names of world football, they have settled for a boss whose outlook on football and management was shaped by the principles of the man he succeeds.
While news of the successor has failed to excite certain sections of the media and United supporters, there’s no question that the club will find itself in safe hands under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson’s fellow Scot. The departing Everton manager is a sensible option rather than an adventurous one.
Moyes’ only silverware is the 2000 Division Two title with Preston and he has limited European experience – but in so many respects it is not a surprise that United regarded him as the heir to Ferguson. He ends 11 years of punching above his weight at Everton to join one of the game’s superpowers.
United have appointed a coach as well as a manager. Moyes craves the training ground as much as the manager’s office. He will delegate to trusted staff but still wants to put on sessions himself. Moyes will thrive under the pressure at United as he has taken the most daunting job in world football. Replacing Sir Alex Ferguson will be a tough task, but Moyes will roll up his sleeves and relish the chance of ruling the greatest dynasty English football has ever seen.
Shrewd transfer policy
It seemed Moyes’ lack of European experience might count against him in United’s considerations, but his willingness to give youth a chance and ability to work on a strict budget at Everton removed the doubts.
United will operate at the top end of the market but Moyes has been a shrewd judge elsewhere when signing players such as Tim Cahill for £2m from Millwall and Phil Jagielka from Sheffield United for £4m. His ability to sign quality unknown players is also something to be proud of – this aspect will not have gone unnoticed by the Glazers.
Moyes has also faced questions about Everton’s playing style – with an emphasis on work ethic and organisation often highlighted to damn him with faint praise. The Scot’s biggest challenge will be to reinvent himself from a manager whose team tends to play direct football and often relies on others’ mistakes to one which can force the pace, dominate the opposition and control a game. This style may just have been down to the circumstances at Everton and he’ll take a different approach with United; we’ll find out soon enough.
His attention to detail is immense. Despite claims that he is defensive-minded, he adapts to win ant one particular game, and has the ability to think quickly and amend things if needed. Furthermore, working with the Old Trafford backroom team will be no problem. Especially if, as is very possible, Phil Neville follows him from Goodison.
With Ferguson taking a directors role at the club, and the direct link offered by old boys and coaches, Mike Phelan, Nicky Butt and Brian Mclair, what could go wrong?
Some fans are anxious about the dynamic of Moyes being compromised by Sir Alex staying on as a director at United, but I don’t see it that way at all. The Everton boss is smart, and pragmatic enough, to go upstairs and pick Fergie’s brains if he needs advice.
Focus on the youth
Among other aspects of keeping in line with United tradition, fans can rest assured that the club’s fine academy will continue to enjoy support from the manager, who is not one to buy success at the expense of giving youth a chance – which perhaps gave him the edge over those managers who like their big signings. Moyes’ revamping of the youth system at Goodison earned him admiration and praise across the game, expect to see these qualities replicated at Old Trafford.
Movements this summer
The appointment of Moyes has raised a number of questions regarding this summer’s transfer activity. 1) What areas would he need to think about strengthening? 2) is this the end of Wayne Rooney’s career at Old Trafford, and 3) Will any of Everton’s players follow Moyes in his move to Manchester?
Firstly, United need more depth in midfield, in fairness they have lacked a proper enforcer since the departure of Roy Keane. Furthermore, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand cannot continue at this level for much longer and a few question marks remain over goalkeeper David de Gea.
Second, much is made of Moyes winning libel damages from Rooney over his 2006 autobiography but it seems to the two have since made up. The only issue could come if there are hiccups over a new deal for the English striker, with Bayern Munich watching and waiting.
Finally, it is suggested that Moyes will encourage Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini and English left-back Leighton Baines to move to Old Trafford from his current employers in Merseyside. Outgoing boss Ferguson considered a move for Baines last summer and the arrival of his fellow Glaswegian at the new champions could see a £17m bid lodged for the England full-back. Whilst Fellaini could be targeted as a replacement for Wayne Rooney if he leaves the club this summer.
In essence, Moyes ticks all the ‘Ferguson’ boxes. He remains fiercely loyal to players, has a temper like Sir Alex, believes in developing the youth, is happy to stay long-term and knows how to act cleverly in the transfer market. Fergie’s final act at the club will have been to make sure the man filling his boots is the closest thing to a Sir Alex Ferguson Mark II. Moyes may not a trophy to his name, or Fergie’s European experience, but in terms of personality, character and drive, the two Scots have much in common.
Time may teach us that Moyes turns out perfectly capable of handling the pressures, the expectations and the responsibilities that come with being in charge of such a club, but make no mistake: repeatedly punching above your weight with a mid-table Premier League side does not automatically translate into success with one of the giants.
The Manchester United experience has broken men as well as made them, but after observing Moyes at close quarters for so long, Ferguson, who will now take his place in the boardroom, will be confident the right man has taken his place.