Early Doors

United trust in traditional Scottish explorers continues under Moyes

Early Doors

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The term "Clydebuilt” harks back to the golden age of shipbuilding in the west of Scotland.

It refers to some of the durable and riveting vessels that were constructed on the River Clyde that runs through Glasgow, the country’s largest city. Some strapping ships, including the old Queen Mary, emerged from the Clyde in the pivotal period before and during World War II.

David Moyes is the son of a draughtsman who worked on such crafts. Like the boats his father helped to build, Moyes’s Everton teams over the past 11 years have tended to carry with them a trademark stamp of Premier quality.

A series of top 10 finishes in the world game’s richest league confirm such a belief. Moyes's teams have been constructed with care, time, thought and common sense.

Despite failing to win a trophy, there has been a consistency surrounding the work of Moyes at Everton that has always attracted admiring glances. It is the reason why Manchester United have turned to him to replace the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson, whose decision to depart some 27 years and 38 trophies later continues to cause tremors in the world of football. And beyond.

To illustrate United's growth under Fergie over this past quarter of a century, and what Moyes is taking on, a bloke in Calcutta could be heard on BBC Radio Five last night claiming "half of India were crying yesterday over Ferguson's retirement". However ludicrous that may sound, life goes on. And United need not go to Bombay to unearth their next coach.

With a role in the United boardroom looming, Fergie has endorsed the hiring of Moyes as a figure who can be trusted not to soil his legacy. But not everybody shares the confidence of the querulous Old Trafford martinet.

£35m was apparently wiped off the club’s share price on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday in reaction to Ferguson’s departure before recovering later in the day. It is not only the markets who have projected some uncertainty surrounding Moyes’s impending anointment.

Another Scottish manager in the form of Tommy Docherty, a figure who won an FA Cup at Old Trafford, had this to say about the new man. “If it is David Moyes, I congratulate him and feel sorry for him because how can you follow the impossible?"

Timing is everything. At least Moyes has timed his run for the line perfectly.

If Sir Alex Ferguson made good on his promise to retire in the early noughties, Martin O'Neill would have succeeded him.

At various points over the past decade, certainly around 2003 when he led Celtic to the UEFA Cup final and perhaps in 2007 when he was interviewed for the England manager's job during his time running a rejuvenated Aston Villa, O’Neill’s stock looked high enough to land the United post.

But Fergie hung around, and O’Neill’s touch turned lukewarm at Villa for various reasons before encountering frostbite at Sunderland. His prospects faded while Moyes’s lot has remained high with a staying power only surpassed in the Premier League by Fergie and Arsene Wenger.

But Moyes is only 50. And even Wenger has not picked up a trophy in eight years at Arsenal despite being doused with heavier funding. Everton consistently finish in the league’s top 10 with a wage bill well down on clubs like United.

This is the most appealing aspect of the move for Moyes ahead of Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. United are looking for a figure to continue a club, not a side. Mourinho comes armed with trophies from time spent in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, but would also have brought scenes of bedlam alongside trinkets.

United do not seek a manager larger than life, larger than the club. Mourinho is an adrenaline rush of a coach, prone to short-term binges of joy wherever he winds up. There is a lot less of the theatre about Moyes.

Like United have been touched by Ferguson’s restoration powers, Everton, or as Moyes once branded them “the people’s football club” in Liverpool, has similarly been forged by Clydeside hands.

After spending the majority of the past 11 years erecting Everton, perhaps with as much graft and gusto as a shipyard welder, Moyes is finally going to be granted the opportunity to manage a club with a budget to compete at the elite levels of the business.

Ferguson’s earthy outlook followed on from Sir Matt Busby, from Bellshill on the outskirts of Glasgow, in creating a natural bond between manager and fan.

Like Ferguson, Moyes had a fairly unremarkable career as a player. He played over 140 games for Preston North End before managing them for four years. A central defender who started out with Celtic, Moyes’s moments playing the game seem bland compared to time spent in management.

He led Preston from the English Third Division to the precipice of the Premier League. They were denied in the play-offs. He was rejected in favour of Steve McClaren to be Ferguson’s assistant at United in the late 1990s, but on the advice of Ferguson, shied away from Sheffield Wednesday’s advances when they were a Premier League club.

Ferguson is from Govan in Glasgow, Moyes was born in Bearsden, a salubrious suburb of the city far removed from Ferguson’s origins as an apprentice toolmaker in the shipyards. They are both Labour Party supporters.

It seems that Moyes found his soul mate when he and Everton found each other. But there has been limitations placed on his work simply because of the club’s lack of finances.

The sky is the limit at United. Ferguson has two European Cups to his name as United manager, Busby one amid a treasure trove of domestic trophies spanning decades. At least Moyes knows the gold standard.

Before Everton usurped United on a penalties in the 2009 FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley, Moyes pondered whether or not match referee Mike Riley had a leaning for United in comments akin to Ferguson’s fondness for high jinks.

It remains astonishing that United won nothing in Fergie's first four years until their FA Cup final replay win over Crystal Palace of 1990 ushered in a landslide of prizes.

The fans discovered that all good things come to those who wait, but Moyes will not be granted as much time as Ferguson to get it right. Not these days.

Under their latest Scottish manager and a side with a mighty work ethic, United supporters will hope Moyes's coronation leads to the palace of wisdom. There is talk of Cristiano Ronaldo returning and Wayne Rooney leaving.

There is suddenly an exciting uncertainty swirling around the British game's most decorated club.

Desmond Kane

QUOTE OF DAY

Amid the worldwide news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, there was some football breaking out. A typically feverish London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham ended 2-2 in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, a result that leaves Spurs toiling to qualify for the Champions League. But we will stick to the programme and have this one from United late last night. “Wayne Rooney is not for sale.”

COMING UP

Jan Molby will be penning his latest column relating to the goings on at United with David Moyes set to be appointed. We have live updates from the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-finals between Leicester City and Watford. A 7:45pm kick-off at the King Power Stadium.

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