Sir Alex Ferguson, love him or hate him (and people are divided on the Manchester United Don as much as they are on Margaret Thatcher), has been a great football manager. So successful has he been, and not many people have statues erected in their honour in their lifetime, that few would want to follow him. David Moyes, clearly relishes the challenge.
But Moyes may have more than expectation to deal with when he takes over at Old Trafford. Sir Alex has moved upstairs to become a board member and he’s an ambassador at the club. It’s likely that the Govan Godfather will be roaming the corridors of power at Old Traford for a while yet.
Following Ferguson is going to be every bit as difficult as succeeding Sir Matt Busby, the second most successful manager in United’s history. That task, surprisingly, fell to Wilf McGuinness, a Busby protégé and some say, hand-picked by the great man himself. He was too young and inexperienced to manage a United team that included the holy trinity of Best, Law and Charlton.
The task of managing United was challenging enough, but McGuinness also had to deal with the United doyen sitting along the corridor in his office, attending board meetings and making decisions around players. In short, he was on to a loser from the very start.
McGuinness didn’t last long and Busby took the reins again (as if he ever let go of them) and eventually, Frank O’Farrell was appointed. It wasn’t really until Ferguson’s arrival in 1986 that the ghost of Busby’s managerial reign was laid to rest.
Moyes is operating in a different age, but one that is more unforgiving. Ferguson is every bit as daunting as Busby, but Moyes is an experienced manager. There’s no doubt that there will be momentoes and monuments to the Ferguson era all over Old Trafford. He will be reminded of a glorious chapter every day he arrives at the stadium and the training ground.
Moyes will not be able to take the sort of approach that Brian Clough tried to adopt when he took over from Don Revie at Leeds – the man who created the legend will still be present at Old Trafford. And that is bound to make his job that much harder.