Moyes set to succeed Ferguson as Manchester United manager on July 1st

Former Everton boss identified months ago as the successor to celebrated compatriot


David Moyes was identified months ago by Manchester United as their ideal candidate to replace Alex Ferguson, who confirmed his retirement on Wednesday.

The champions moved quickly to replace British football’s most highly decorated manager once a tearful Ferguson told executives two days ago that he would be stepping down. Confirmation regarding a July 1st appointment of Moyes is expected within the next 24 hours, with a source close to the Everton manager not denying he will take over from Ferguson, who guided United to a 20th title this season.

United’s desire to secure Moyes took Everton by surprise with the Merseyside club feeling aggrieved that they did not receive the courtesy of an official approach from the champions. However, as Moyes’s contract with Everton expires on June 30th United were not required to do so.

The news had been so unexpected at Goodison Park that until 2pm on Wednesday, four hours after Ferguson made his decision public, Everton’s chairman, Bill Kenwright, had no idea that Moyes was wanted by United.

Everton play West Ham United on Sunday and Moyes took training with his players as normal at the club’s Finch Farm training ground on Wednesday morning, before saying to the squad only, “I’m off to Chelsea”. He then took a car with his brother and agent to London planning to watch Wednesday evening’s match between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Before the match Moyes met Kenwright at the chairman’s London offices where he informed him of his decision, and the Scot is expected back on Merseyside on Thursday morning. There he will have a meeting with his backroom staff and players during which Moyes should tell them he will join United.

As things stand, the 50-year-old’s normal press duties on Friday have not been cancelled and he is still expected to lead Everton for the visit of West Ham, the same day that Ferguson oversees his last home game for United, against Swansea City, with huge tributes expected.

Moyes can expect a good reception from the Goodison Park crowd before he ends 11 years in charge of Everton at Chelsea on the season’s final day on May 19th.

David Gill, United’s chief executive, outlined the desired criteria for Ferguson’s successor. “The qualities are the ones that have been inherent in Manchester United for many years,” he told MUTV. “If you look at what happened in our two most successful eras, with Sir Matt Busby and then Sir Alex, we had managers there who sort of got involved with the whole aspects of the club, whether it be from the youth team aspects, obviously up to the first team, all the aspects of it. And that degree of loyalty – understanding the football club is not just what happens on the first team pitch – is crucial to the success of Manchester United.

“Clearly he’s got to have the requisite football experience in terms of domestic and European experience. It’s a small pool, but we’ll move forward.”

These criteria could be viewed as a hint towards the qualities of Moyes, who has built Everton from the bottom up during more than a decade at the club. While he has never won a trophy, the Scot has experience of managing in the Uefa Cup (now the Europa League) and one attempt at guiding Everton in the Champions League during the 2005-6 season, though the club failed to qualify for the group stages. Ferguson, a key voice in selecting a successor, also admires Moyes.

An emotional Ferguson broke the news of his retirement to players and staff at the club’s training complex, Carrington, early on Wednesday morning, having arrived there just before 7am. His squad were informed to report an hour early for a meeting that took place at 8.50am during which Ferguson told them he would be stepping down from the job he took in 1986.

The 71-year-old then spoke with his backroom team before his final meeting with the rest of the club staff during which some broke down as the Scot thanked them for their commitment to United.

In a statement, Ferguson said: “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.

“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”

The squad Moyes is set to inherit contains Wayne Rooney, whom he sold to United and subsequently sued over comments in the striker’s autobiography, although the pair have made their peace. Rooney and Robin van Persie led a group of players at Chester Races on Wednesday afternoon where they saw Ferguson’s horse Butterfly McQueen placed second in the 3.50pm and collect winnings of £2,310. Yet until 6pm, when Rio Ferdinand became the first player to react publicly to Ferguson’s decision, the squad had remained tight-lipped.

In a tweet the defender said: “The bosses work ethic, his desire to win + to make us better players were unrivalled. Thanks boss.”