OUTGOING Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed David Moyes was the unanimous choice to succeed him after the Everton manager was officially anointed his heir yesterday.
Ferguson, who shocked football by announcing his retirement after 27 years at Old Trafford on Wednesday, said Moyes had “all the qualities” required to continue his unprecedented era of success.
Moyes, who has agreed a six-year contract starting on 1 July, called Ferguson “the best manager ever” and said he had felt unable to turn down the chance to succeed his fellow Glaswegian.
United confirmed the widely anticipated appointment yesterday afternoon, but only after prematurely revealing Moyes’s arrival on their Facebook page before they had made an official announcement.
The club, whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, hastily took down a Facebook post bearing the hashtag “United Continued” and the message “Send your personal welcome to our new manager David Moyes”.
One of Moyes’s first tasks is likely to involve deciding the future of unsettled striker Wayne Rooney, who asked to be sold last month and is believed to interest Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
“When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes we unanimously agreed on David Moyes,” said Ferguson, 71, who is to stay on as a director.
“David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club.”
United’s decision to hand Moyes such a lengthy contract, considering his lack of trophy-winning and Champions League experience, has been seen as a show of faith and an indication he will be given time.
“It’s a great honour to be asked to be 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 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.”
PEAS IN A POD: NEW MAN IS MORE OF SAME
Ferguson and Moyes similarities
■ Their fathers both worked for the same shipbuilding firm, while a young Sir Alex was coached by Moyes Sr at Drumchapel Amateurs FC, for whom David also played.
■ Ferguson’s love of racing is well known, and Moyes also owns a share in a horse, Desert Cry, trained by Grand National winner Donald McCain.
■ Both men are staunch Labour supporters. Sir Alex has donated to the party, while Moyes backed Merseyside MP Andy Burnham in the leadership election.
■ Like Ferguson, Moyes is no stranger to staring down the press and dismissing criticism from rival managers with a pithy put-down. Of a half-time player scuffle in the tunnel at Arsenal last month he quipped, with reference to rival boss Arsene Wenger: “I didn’t see it. And I know someone who says that quite a lot.”
MOYES EMPLOYS: WHO WILL STAY OR GO?
■ Everton stars Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini have been tipped to follow Moyes, though neither would be cheap. Toffees veteran Phil Neville could return to Old Trafford in a coaching role, possibly even as Moyes’s No2.
■ Wayne Rooney is the biggest-name possible departure, having asked to leave the club. His history of disputes with ex-boss Moyes is unlikely to dampen the rumours. Doubts over the futures of Nani, Danny Welbeck, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand also persist.