Very rarely in the history of English football has a manager been seen as ‘the face’ of a club. In the presence of stars from all across the world in the team it is very difficult or rather impossible for a manager to hog the limelight and become a sort of symbol of recognition of a club. However, Sir Alex Ferguson is one man who gave as much identity to the club as the club gave him. For a generation of English football lovers it is difficult to think of Manchester United sans Sir Alex Ferguson.
Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager was a thought that many Manchester United fans considered sacrilegious. However, after 26 years at the helm of affairs at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson decided to step down as manager of the Red Devils. United fans were not given much time to ‘mourn’ the declaration as a replacement was declared very swiftly. Defying expectations of Manchester United replacing Ferguson with someone who had extensive European experience, the club and the management, led by Sir Alex Ferguson, shocked many with their decision to appoint Everton manager David Moyes.
With many big names like Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, and Manuel Pellegrini doing the rounds for the coveted position, the management’s decision to hand over reigns to David Moyes baffled many. However, a close examination of Moyes’ pedigree shows the pattern behind the apparent madness. It is no secret that Ferguson has been an admirer of Moyes and his work ethic. The fact that he spent 11 years in Everton and led a club on the verge of relegation to a succession of top ten finishes must have worked in his favour.
Manchester United’s desire to hire someone who would not desert the club after a short tenure may also have been a major factor behind the decision. This is probably where he edged out someone like Jose Mourinho, whose inability to stay in one club for more than three years goes against the tradition that Manchester United boasts of. Manchester United takes pride in their youth academy which has produced players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs to name a few and Moyes’ record at developing youth team players, like Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell among others, may have tilted the balance in his favour.
Replacing Sir Alex Ferguson is a herculean task and would have been so for any big name that had been doing the rounds. This leap from managing Everton to leading Manchester United will undoubtedly be a huge challenge for Moyes. He has the support of Ferguson himself, whose endorsement must have played a very big part in Moyes’ selection for the top job. Only time will tell if Moyes will be able to emulate Ferguson’s success and live up to the expectations of his admirers. However, one thing is for certain, Manchester United have gone for continuity in thought and Ferguson, who will become director and ambassador, will probably continue to have a big part in all the future decisions of the club.
On a positive note, Moyes, who succeeded with such limited resources in Everton has every chance of succeeding in a much bigger club with larger than life resources.