A six year contract: that is quite a statement of faith in David Moyes by Manchester United. Never mind that he has managed no more than two matches in the Champions League, never mind that he has added not a single piece of silverware to the Goodison Park trophy room during his decade at Everton, United clearly believe he is the man for the long haul. That is why they appointed him to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, rather than a quick fixer like Jose Mourinho: they want him to hang around for a while.
Ferguson's fingerprints are all over the decision to appoint Moyes. Most managers are quickly bundled out the back door of a football club, their P45 chucked after them in the shape of a paper dart. Ferguson, who, it appears, made his decision to go as long ago as the defeat to Real Madrid, has been able to fashion his legacy in the most significant way of all: by choosing his successor. And he has picked someone to replace him who shares his values, has the same outlook, comes from the same background.
He and Moyes are cut from the same cloth all right. Here's how close their upbringing is: as kids, they played for the same amateur team in Glasgow – Drumchapel Amateurs – where they were coached by the same coach, the late founder of the club Douglas Smith. Ferguson wanted someone to look after the things he had nurtured at Old Trafford, like the youth development system, the scouting network and most particularly the backroom staff. He did not want someone to come in and clear the decks. Many of his staff have been there almost as long as he has, he feels a duty of care for them. He wants Moyes to behave just like he did.
And in that, the new United manager has to be careful. It will be hard enough to follow a living legend, to attempt to replace the irreplaceable. But it would be much harder if he started off as a tartan mini me. If he is to succeed he must be his own man. Sure, Ferguson will be there to offer advice and Moyes would be foolish not to take it. Who is there around that better knows how to manage Manchester United, who better knows how to prepare for a Champions League away leg, who better knows how to time a run at the title? But he must filter the advice through his own belief system and not simply act as if on instruction from above. Everyone can see through a puppet.
I have had the rare opportunity to spend some time with Moyes and he is a really interesting, personable man. Driven too. The press in Merseyside have always found him approachable and decent, if not necessarily effusive. Even as the scale of the United operation dazzles him, he needs to maintain that character in his new job, rather than taking on board his predecessor's often prickly demeanour. He needs, in short, to be himself.
He knows that. One thing about Moyes is that, like the man he replaces, he is not remotely stupid. Which is just as well as he faces some immediate issues. A man of integrity and honesty, he will have to confront his own principles on a couple of players. Everyone with two eyes knows that an early signing should be Leighton Baines. Of course, that is Everton fans' worst nightmare, losing their manager and their best player to United. But in football, all is fair in love and war. If he wants him, he must ensure he gets him.
He then has to take on the matter of Wayne Rooney. The pair fell out when the player left Goodison and now Rooney seems to have already decided he wants to leave Old Trafford. This is an area where authority needs immediately to be demonstrated. Moyes has to ensure he has adequate replacement – a marquee name - and United fans would love it to be in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo – before he countenances such a sale. Rooney may have to go. But it must be under the new boss's timetable, not his. Or that of his agent.
And then there is the most pressing requirement. He has to win. It seems obvious, but he really has no alternative. His employers have so leveraged the organisation financially that they absolutely require continued success to maintain the cash flow. Those commercial partnerships with Malaysian potato snack manufacturers don't arrive without a winning team.
Moyes has the wherewithal to do that. He is a pragmatic coach, able to produce success from limited resources. Once challenged to define his coaching philosophy he simply said "win". On the training ground he is an obsessive, ensuring every ball is pumped up before a session.
But there's winning and winning. It took even the great Sir Alex time to find his rhythm at United. In his first five seasons at the club they finished 11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, 6th and 2nd. With the modern United, Moyes does not have that sort of luxury of time at his disposal. Even as he puts his feet under the desk, he knows unless he wins something almost from the very start of his tenure, the long haul will not be anything approaching the length of his first contract.