The immediate tests facing David Moyes at Manchester United
It may be the most coveted position in football but the Manchester United manager's job is also among the most demanding. When David Moyes arrives at Old Trafford, his in-tray will be packed. These are the key issues to address.
Winning over fans
For two decades, Manchester United supporters' position has been simple: they have backed the manager. It has been easy for them. While other fan bases have been divided by managers who polarised opinion, United's have had an easy ride.
They knew Sir Alex Ferguson was a guarantee of success. Moyes, whose only trophy came with Preston North End in England's third flight 13 years ago, is not.
Many United fans would have expected Jose Mourinho, winner of seven league titles and two Champions League, not Moyes. There has long been the sense that United's most important championship is the first after Ferguson's departure. It is even more significant now.
Moyes should believe it isn't personal. Wayne Rooney asked to leave two weeks ago when Ferguson was not expected to retire.
Yet although the Liverpudlian played for Moyes at Everton, the Scot sued the striker over allegations in his autobiography. They have since buried the hatchet but if Moyes is to persuade Rooney to stay, he may need to outline where a player fits in when he has lost his status as the top dog to Robin van Persie. It will be a test of man-management.
Besides smashing United's transfer record, securing Cristiano Ronaldo's return would be their boldest statement of intent ever. The winger averages better than a goal a game for Real Madrid, and he would catapult United back into the group of favourites to win the Champions League.
Yet part of the appeal for Ronaldo was his relationship with Ferguson, the man he called "boss" long after they were employer and employee. It is a test of the pulling power of Moyes, a manager who has never previously competed at that end of the transfer market.
Dealing with Fergie
Four decades ago, Wilf McGuinness and Frank O'Farrell, Sir Matt Busby's successors, were undermined by the interference of United's managerial knight. Now Ferguson is set to stay on as a director and an ambassador.
David Gill, the chief executive, said: "Alex will not make that mistake. Everyone can rest assured the new manager will get the necessary space and necessary opportunity to do his job without interference."
Yet men accustomed to wielding as much power as Ferguson has do not blend into the background easily. While he would be foolish to ignore his predecessor's advice, Moyes has to use the most successful manager in the business as a sounding board, but to do things his way.
Managing United, not Everton
It may sound an obvious statement, but while the two clubs have similar values, there are huge differences in the jobs. Moyes lacks Champions League experience and that is one area where he will have to learn quickly. Unaccustomed to having a large transfer budget, he will have to show he can sign world-class players.
While man-management has been a forte of his, sometimes the best footballers have the biggest egos, so that represents another test. And going from one of the smallest pools of players in the division to perhaps the largest, he needs to master the art of squad rotation.
It is as simple as that. This is Manchester United. Ferguson realised that and, by winning a trophy almost every year, he cemented his position and quietened critics. But as Moyes knows after 11 trophy-less years at Everton, it is easier said than done.
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Published: May 9, 2013 04:00 AM