Since Sir Alex Ferguson shocked the world of football by announcing his retirement on Wednesday morning, there has been little ambiguity as to whom Manchester United wanted to succeed their most successful manager. A day later, with people still coming to terms of the prospect of a Ferguson-less Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years, it is David Moyes who has been confirmed as the heir to arguably the most daunting job in the game.
Jose Mourinho, winner of two Champions League titles and serial champion, was mooted as he winds to the end of his time at Real Madrid, but the only man seemingly in the running was Moyes, the 50 year old whose only silverware in fifteen years of management remains a Division 2 title with Preston at the turn of the century.
It is full testament to the conviction Manchester United have in of Moyes however that they have backed him with a six-year contract and the emphatic endorsement of Ferguson, who said the board were “unanimous” in their decision to choose his fellow Scot.
It almost seems like a paradox to describe the most successful club in England, one who has just reached a tally of 20 league titles, appointing a man with scarce experience of managing at Champions League and no trophies to show for his ten years with Everton as a logical decision. But when his record is ebbed away, it becomes just that.
Irrespective of his record, Manchester United wanted a man who could fit seamlessly into the fabric and tradition of the club whilst showing a willingness to churn out the same sort of longevity that Ferguson has set the barometer for. In Moyes they will get those traits, as well as a man who demands respect, preaches discipline and places an emphasis on financial prudence and the promotion of young talent. It is those latter two characteristics that have contributed to top ten finishes in all but 2 of his ten years at Goodison Park with a net spend of just £800,000 over the past five years.
It is these factors that have contributed to the make-up of the Glasgow-born manager which has become so appealing to Ferguson and the Manchester United board. They want continuity, loyalty and a strong work-ethic and they will find that in abundance in their new manager; such is his diligence and dedication that he travelled from Everton’s training ground whilst heavily linked with a new job on Wednesday, all the way to London to scout Chelsea in their match with Tottenham. Like Ferguson, he remains remarkably driven by a wonderful enthusiasm for the game and an unrelenting will to win.
As he settles down to take on his new post, one that he is certain to receive the utmost backing in from the corridors of Old Trafford that appreciate more than anything the importance of long-termism, Moyes will be exposed to more resources and inevitably higher expectation. He has shown enough in his decade in Merseyside, especially with his recent astute business with the likes of Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Sylvian Distin, Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas, to suggest he will be perfectly comfortable in handling the demands of both.
His track record in bringing through the likes of Wayne Rooney and now Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman and Leon Osman from the Everton youth set-up bodes well for adapting to the inevitable expectation of utilising the next generation at Old Trafford. From the emergence of Ryan Giggs right through to the era of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, Ferguson’s handprint on youth development is clearly marked and he will be looking for his successor to nurture the next generation of Nick Powell and Wilfried Zaha.
Whereas Mourinho, for all of his trophy-laden years, has been barbed with criticism for ignoring the Castilla during his time in Madrid, Moyes will show no reluctance in investing faith in the young.
For a reign as historic as Ferguson’s, supporters would have been right to demand a big name to come in and succeed it, but it remains remarkably short-sighted to refer to Moyes’s aerial as underwhelming based own his lack of success.
AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi took a gamble on Arrigo Sacchi, the European Cup winning pioneer of Italian football, whilst he managed Parma in first Serie C1 and then Serie B, Arsenal took Arsene Wenger from Grampus 8 in Japan, Antonio Conte arrived at Juventus from Siena and Pep Guardiola hadn’t managed at senior level before trampling all in his wake at Barcelona. Jurgen Klopp, now flavour of the month at Borussia Dortmund, was relegated with Mainz before he was allowed to turn the Champions League finalists into the envy of Europe.
Previous records become an irrelevance when the right character, not necessarily the right manager, becomes available. Manchester United have chosen to look at the person behind the man who is charged with delivering results and found somebody of trustworthiness, integrity and value in the same mould as the 71 year old coach many say can’t be replaced.
That could well be true, but Moyes deserves a mighty good shot at it.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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