Moyes leaves Blues for Man United job

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Sir Alex Ferguson © Wikipedia/Creative Commons; David Moyes © Trinity Mirror

Sir Alex Ferguson © Wikipedia/Creative Commons; David Moyes © Trinity Mirror

David Moyes is leaving Everton to take over as Manchester United manager, following   yesterday’s shock announcement that Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring after more than 26 years in charge at Old Trafford.

Moyes was confirmed as Ferguson’s successor after a statement by Everton revealed his desire to quit the club to join United, where he has agreed a six-year contract.

Sir Alex was instrumental in the decision to invite his fellow Scotsman to take the helm of the newly-crowned Premier League champions, as Moyes bids farewell to the side he has been building since March 2002.

Although Moyes did not deliver a trophy to Goodison Park during his 11-year reign, his track record of crafting a competitive, stable team with severe financial constraints in place has impressed many within the game.

David Moyes

“Everton’s fantastic fans have played a big part in making my years at Goodison so enjoyable and I thank them wholeheartedly for the support they have given me and the players. Everton will be close to me for the rest of my life.”

His admirers are known to include Ferguson, who was always going to be an influential voice in choosing an heir to his United empire.

On a day when English football and the media were left in a maelstrom of intense speculation and reflection upon Ferguson’s monumental achievements, reports that Moyes was expected to be the new Man United manager quickly became an integral part of the unfolding story.

He was installed as the hot favourite to succeed Ferguson and rapidly turned into the only name in the frame just hours after 71-year-old Sir Alex confirmed he will retire at the end of this season.

Moyes held talks with Blues Chairman Bill Kenwright in London on Wednesday evening and the club confirmed his departure on Thursday afternoon, saying he will see out the remainder of this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson

“We unanimously agreed on David Moyes. David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I’ve admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club.”

It seems far less clear-cut who will come in as the next Everton boss. Kenwright had established a close bond with Moyes, but the search is now on for the club’s new figurehead and Wigan Athletic’s Roberto Martinez – who was linked with Liverpool last year – is a front-runner with several leading bookmakers.

Swansea’s Michael Laudrup, Celtic’s Neil Lennon, former Sunderland chief Martin O’Neill and departing club skipper Phil Neville are among those on longer odds, while more controversial and unlikely outsiders include outgoing Chelsea and ex-Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez.

It appears Everton will not be compensated for the loss of Moyes as his contract was due to expire in July. The 50-year-old had previously said he was waiting until the summer before deciding whether to renew his Goodison deal, but the lure of one of the biggest jobs in world football at United was too much to resist.

Bill Kenwright

“We’ve had a good 11-year adventure with David and it is my job and the club’s job to get a worthy successor and build on what David has brought to the club and hopefully move on from there. We will be out there finding the right man for this football club.”

His new posting also renews an occasionally fractious relationship with former Everton hero, Wayne Rooney, who he sold to Manchester United in 2004. In a further twist, Rooney is reported to have told Ferguson two weeks ago that he wants to leave United but his request was denied.

Moyes is set to sign off by guiding Everton to finishing above Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the second season running, as five points separate the sixth and seventh-placed teams with just two games remaining.

His highest Premier League finish at Everton has been fourth in 2005, before the Blues were beaten by Villarreal in the Champions League qualifying stages in the following season. He also led the Toffees to the FA Cup Final in 2009, losing 2-1 to Chelsea at Wembley.

Moyes was named League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2009, having started his managerial career where his playing days ended, at Preston. He took the North End job in 1998 until Everton named him Walter Smith’s successor four years later.

Wigan's Roberto Martinez is the early favourite to replace Moyes at Everton © Wigan Athletic

Wigan’s Roberto Martinez is the bookies’ favourite to replace Moyes at Everton © Wigan Athletic

It has been widely quoted that Moyes has “huge shoes to fill” as he replaces Sir Alex Ferguson.

Whoever steps into the vacuum created by the exit of Everton’s popular and talented Scottish manager arguably has a much tougher task facing him, as he seeks to end the supporters’ 18-year wait for silverware.

Unless new investment accompanies a new managerial appointment at some stage, Everton’s next leader will be limited to the same spartan resources that left the Moyes era short of fulfilling its undoubted potential.

Moyes’ pedigree will now be put to the test by inheriting the riches at his disposal in Manchester, albeit working in the giant shadow cast by the towering figure of Sir Alex in the Old Trafford directors’ box.

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