Reliable Moyes trusted with keys to United machine
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Reliable Moyes trusted with keys to United machine

David Moyes, who spent 11 years keeping a reliable old family saloon roadworthy with spare parts and loose change, is poised to get the keys to a huge red Rolls Royce loaded with cash.

sports Updated: May 09, 2013 21:21 IST

David Moyes, who spent 11 years keeping a reliable old family saloon roadworthy with spare parts and loose change, is poised to get the keys to a huge red Rolls Royce loaded with cash.

The 50-year-old's imminent appointment as Alex Ferguson's successor as Manchester United manager represents a gargantuan step for the plain-talking Scot who failed to win any silverware for Everton in more than a decade of hard graft on Merseyside.

While his record at Everton, who he steered to fourth in 2005, to the 2009 FA Cup final and regular top-eight placings is solid rather than spectacular, merely finishing above Liverpool will not cut the mustard at United where failure to win at least one trophy each season became almost unthinkable under Ferguson.

Despite the obvious lack of tangible success on his CV, however, everything about Moyes's persona from a fierce work ethic to a brooding air of authority and his fixed Glaswegian stare mark him out as manager straight from the Ferguson mould.

Ferguson himself has kept close tabs on the work being done by Moyes and is clearly comfortable handing over the wheel of arguably the world's biggest soccer club to a manager he rates highly.

"What he's done at Everton has been miraculous," Ferguson once said of the man he tried to lure to Old Trafford as his assistant in 1999 when Moyes was player-coach with Preston North End for whom he made nearly 150 appearances.

The fact Moyes turned down Ferguson's offer speaks volumes about his determination to forge his own identity.

Tempting as it must have been to join the country's biggest club, Moyes decided to learn his trade with Preston, taking them to within a playoff final of reaching the top flight in 2001.

When relegation-threatened Everton came calling in March 2002, Moyes accepted the challenge and quickly steered them away from trouble. Then, in his first full season, took them to seventh having briefly challenged for a top-four place.

Moyes suffered a crisis in the 2003-04 season when a fractured dressing room caused Everton to flirt with relegation but he survived and the following season they cracked the top-four cartel at the expense of Liverpool, only to lose in a Champions League qualifiying tie to Spain's Villarreal.

Since then Everton, despite the financial strait-jacket imposed on Moyes, have finished an average of seventh in the Premier League and this season should finish sixth, above Liverpool.

New role
So, 14 years after passing up the opportunity to work alongside Ferguson, Moyes will now find the 71-year-old Scot watching him closely from an upstairs boardroom in his new role as a club ambassador.

The ambitious Moyes gives the impression of a man confident in his own ability and prepared to do things his own way, but stamping his own authority on a squad full of serial title winners assembled by Ferguson will test his mettle.

Odds of 9-1 are being offered for Ferguson to appear in the dugout next season to lend Moyes a hand and while that scenario is unlikely, there is little doubt the old master will be keeping a close eye on his countryman.

Former United manager Wilf McGuiness can relate to the task faced by Moyes, having stepped into Matt Busby's shoes in 1969 when Busby moved upstairs to become a director.

"Following great people is a bit difficult," McGuiness, who lasted only a year, told BBC Radio Five.

"I was very inexperienced and it didn't work, although we did reach three cup semi-finals. There is no reason why it shouldn't work this time and if it is David Moyes I'll be well pleased. He has the experience and he is a Scot, who seem to do well at Manchester United."

The face of the English game has changed almost beyond recognition since 1986 when former Aberdeen boss Ferguson walked into Old Trafford to replace Ron Atkinson.

With the club still in the doldrums and fans all misty-eyed about the Busby days, Ferguson was given time to bed in and begin building an empire.

It was four years before he won any silverware but Moyes will be expected to deliver immediately - a daunting challenge with Manchester City expected to beef up their squad and Jose Mourinho likely to return as Chelsea manager having been briefly linked with the Old Trafford hot seat.

As well as trying to convince Wayne Rooney, who he gave his first-team debut as a 16-year-old at Everton, to remain at United, Moyes will also need to prove he can manage a large transfer budget - a 'problem' that was rarely a concern at Everton whose net spend on transfers from 2007 to 2012 was 5 million pounds.

Moyes may raid Goodison Park for left back Leighton Baines and Belgian midfield enforcer Marouane Fellaini while he will also have to decide whether the likes of Nani, Anderson and Antonio Valencia fit into his plans.

While some were surprised Real Madrid's charismatic boss Mourinho was not chosen as the new puppet master at The Theatre of Dreams, his abrasive personality and penchant for controversy may have sat uncomfortably with United's American owners.

Moyes, on the other hand, with likely input from United's old guard such as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and possibly even former Red Phil Neville, who he took to Everton and made club captain, offers continuity, stability and perspiration.

Whether he possesses the inspiration to fill the void left by Ferguson remains to be seen.

First Published: May 09, 2013 21:20 IST