David Moyes to step into United hotseat

David Moyes will become the Manchester United manager on Thursday following Sir Alex Ferguson’s recommendation to the club’s hierarchy that his fellow Scot succeed him at Old Trafford.

Moyes, whose £4 million-a-year contract at Goodison Park expires at the end of the season, was in London on Wednesday evening to discuss his departure from Everton with the club chairman Bill Kenwright.

But with United confirming that Ferguson will end his 27-year reign as manager following the Premier League fixture against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on May 19, Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford is understood to be a formality, with the champions hoping to conclude negotiations today.

Despite long-term speculation linking Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho with the United job, the Portuguese was not considered by the club’s American owners, the Glazer family. Ferguson informed them in late February that this season would be his last. Neither United chief -executive David Gill nor the Glazers tried to change his mind.

The Glazers and Gill sought Ferguson’s advice on the man best suited to succeed him and he nominated Moyes. Senior figures at the club confirmed that the 71-year-old’s -contribution was fundamental to the decision to pursue Moyes.

Although Moyes’s lack of Champions League experience has been raised as a potential handicap to his ability to build on Ferguson’s legacy of two European Cups, United are confident that the 50-year-old will thrive among Europe’s elite.

Leading figures in the game, including Ferguson, have made it clear to Gill and the Glazers that Moyes’ tactical acumen is the equal of Europe’s leading coaches. His commitment to building teams and his longevity at Everton have also been cited as crucial factors in -United’s decision to recruit him.

Ferguson and Moyes have formed a strong relationship since the then-Preston North End manager rejected the opportunity to become Ferguson’s assistant in 1999. Their shared principles have created a sense within United that they have hired a man who bears a close resemblance to the 44-year-old enticed from Aberdeen as Ron Atkinson’s successor in November 1986.

Ferguson is understood to believe that the time is right to leave the club because United have reasserted their dominance both locally and nationally. United sources denied that the hip surgery later he has planned for the summer influenced the retirement decision.

‘‘The decision is one that I have thought a great deal about and that I have not taken lightly,’’ Ferguson said. ‘‘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.

‘‘I am delighted to take on the roles of both director and ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future.

‘‘In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team.’’

Although Ferguson has accepted the role of non-executive director, he will not have an office at Old Trafford or Carrington, with his retirement described by sources as a ‘‘clean break’’. That will spare Moyes the prospect of his predecessor retaining a presence similar to Sir Matt Busby’s following his retirement in 1969.

Martin Edwards, the chairman who appointed Ferguson as manager in 1986, insists he will not present a distraction for Moyes. ‘‘Alex is aware of what happened when Sir Matt stepped down,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘Any new manager would be happy to have him in the background and imparting his knowledge to them. I don’t see the problem arising again.’’

Charlton, who has worked closely with Ferguson, echoed those comments. ‘‘Alex Ferguson doesn’t work like that,’’ Charlton said. ‘‘He won’t interfere. It would be to the detriment of the club. He’s famed for his -decision-making and this will just be another decision.’’

Former United captain Gary Neville, whose brother Phil has spent eight years working under Moyes at Everton, believes he will be an ideal successor to Ferguson. ‘‘I would welcome it and it makes sense in some ways,’’

Neville said. ‘‘They [United] want someone to respect the tradition and history of the club and somebody who is there for the long-term. This is not a club that will go for quick fixes. I see the appointment as a result for sanity in football.’’

The Daily Telegraph, London

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