I've long been an admirer of David Moyes.
At the start of the season I waxed lyrical (The Moyes Masterplan) about the qualities of the man, and the outstanding job he did with Everton.
The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson obviously leaves a massive void in the dug out at Old Trafford. There's so much you can write about Ferguson and what he has achieved, but I think it's enough for me to simply say he has got Manchester United to the pinnacle of British football and kept them there for 20 years, evolving the team on the pitch so that they have never felt the pain that all other successful teams feel when they lose the nucleus of a great side.
Moyes has maintained a more modest level of success at Goodison Park on a much more modest budget, and has rarely failed to evolve the Everton team beyond the loss of key players. The development of Everton's players, fattened up for sale at a hefty premium - Rooney, Rodwell, Arteta, Lescott, Pienaar etc - has ensured that Bill Kenwright has been able to pay the bills during Moyes' tenure, but the loss of such players hasn't been followed by a slump in the team's fortunes.
So it would appear on the face of things that Moyes is well qualified to take over Fergie's mantle and sustain the relentless pursuit of trophies at Old Trafford. I certainly can't find reason to criticise the decision to appoint Moyes. But the brand that is Manchester United is very, very different to anything Moyes has experienced and perhaps more importantly, so too is the challenge that lies ahead on the pitch.
Moyes is an intelligent guy, and I believe he has the strength of character, intellect and most of all, ability to command respect, to adjust to becoming the flag bearer for arguably the biggest football business on the planet. Few, if any, other candidates for the role would be better for that role. Ok, he hasn't got the CV of a Mourinho or a Capello, but his character is one coveted by a club that believes in development, sustainability and the diligent pursuit of excellence. The shoe fits in terms of his profile.
It's the challenge on the pitch that presents a step into the unknown.
Moyes has achieved success at Everton by preparing his side meticulously and squeezing every last drop out of the orange - the team unit is always incredibly disciplined, motivated and efficient. Set pieces at both ends of the pitch are executed with a higher rate of success than probably any other side in the country. Anywhere that science and technical preparation can lend a hand, Everton benefit - Moyes is clearly outstanding at getting bang for his buck out of the players both individually and as a team unit. But the step up from trying to be best of the rest is a big one. To be the best of the best, the Champions League clubs and also in the Champions League itself, efficiency is simply not enough. Developing a team capable of creating chances in open play is not something we've seen Moyes achieve at Everton.
Nurturing a style that can unlock the door at the very highest level is not easy. The margins for error in the global elite are paper thin. The speed at which a pass is delivered or a chance is engineered is a split second quicker and Moyes will need to evolve as a manager and a coach to keep United at the very top. I would argue that despite their dominance in domestic football, Moyes inherits a side that is dropping further and further behind Europe's elite. The golden generation of Scholes, Giggs, Beckham and the Nevilles amongst others has been ever present during Ferguson's golden years. With Giggs and Scholes coming to the very end of their careers, Moyes has to rebuild the development path that has resulted in the brand of football United play - well balanced, attractive passing football.
I'm not for one minute suggesting he can't do that - he is after all one of the few managers at the very top who can do it all when it comes to management and coaching, and this is probably one of the reasons why he has been so successful, and certainly one of the reasons why he is so well respected by players and those in the game.
So how will Moyes fare in this, most high profile of roles? Who knows! Well qualified he most certainly is, but without the aid of a crystal ball, I certainly won't be making any predictions.Suggest a correction