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Phuket Sport: David Moyes - the man for Man U

Phuket Sport: David Moyes - the man for Man U

FOOTBALL: For all the goodwill amassed as he fought to keep Everton punching above their weight in the Premier League, David Moyes will be entering alien territory when he succeeds Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager on July 1.


Monday 20 May 2013, 05:47PM

At Everton, Moyes had to show the skill of an alchemist to squeeze every last ounce out of the club’s modest budget, occasionally dredging the lower leagues for players that his club’s wealthier rivals had overlooked.

His eye for a bargain has helped him lead Everton to six consecutive top-eight finishes, but he has no experience of operating at the very top end of the transfer market and he will now have the resources of one of the world’s richest clubs at his fingertips.

Ferguson personally recommended Moyes to the United board, but he will also be keenly aware of the 50-year-old’s near total lack of Champions League experience.

In his 11 years at Everton, Moyes presided over just two games in Europe’s elite competition – a two-legged defeat by Villarreal in the qualifying rounds of the 2005-06 tournament.

He led Everton into battle in the Europa League four times, reaching the last 16 in 2008, but he has never pitted his wits against teams like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan, against whom United measure themselves.

United made a statement by awarding Moyes a six-year contract, with club director Bobby Charlton trumpeting the arrival of “a man who will build teams for the future.”

By granting a relatively untested manager such a long contract, United appear to hope that Ferguson’s legacy will let the new man slip into the driving seat without sending the juggernaut off the road.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely Moyes will be granted four years to find his feet, as Ferguson was when he succeeded Ron Atkinson in 1986.

Ferguson has elevated the club to such heights that it cannot afford the breaking-in that a newcomer might be granted elsewhere.

United have not finished outside the top three since 1991. They have not failed to qualify for the Champions League since 1995. Since 1990, they have finished without at least one piece of silverware on only three occasions.

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Then there is the shock factor. By the time Moyes arrives, United will have played 1,500 games under their old manager, and Ferguson’s shadow is destined to linger since he was granted a directorial role.

Moyes, though, is no callow newcomer, and he could not wish to inherit a better calibrated winning machine.

A modern manager, who employs three data analysts at Everton, Moyes will find United geared to success, right down to the height of the grass at the club’s Carrington training facility.

He also inherits a team of champions, who romped to this season’s Premier League title with almost disdainful ease.

The current squad brims with young players such as Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck who are still to peak, and Ferguson is confident that “the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one”.

The new man’s first major dilemma concerns a familiar face: that of Wayne Rooney.
Rooney has confirmed he asked to leave United before Ferguson stepped down, amid reports that he was disillusioned by the way he had slipped behind Robin van Persie in the pecking order.

It was Moyes who brought Rooney through at Everton aged just 16, but their relationship deteriorated after he was sold to United in 2004.

Rooney has since re-established his relationship with Moyes, who won damages in a libel case after the striker made disparaging comments about the latter in his 2006 autobiography.

Rooney still has two years to run on the contract he secured after his initial flirt with City, and United have insisted he is not for sale, notwithstanding media claims that offers topping 20 million pounds (B904 million) would be considered.

Moyes’ handling of the issue will give an early indication of his ability to deal with the intense scrutiny that accompanies every facet of life at Old Trafford. And Ferguson will be watching. 

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