David Moyes’ first Manchester United press conference on Friday was dominated by the talk of a certain scouse striker who’s name is wet soil with many fans. While the former Everton boss fielded countless questions about the former Everton striker becoming a former Manchester United one, there was also the matter of how he ended up with the biggest job in the history of club football.
Speaking of the day he was offered the United job Moyes noted:
“I can still recall the day it all happened quite vividly. It was the Thursday before we played Liverpool on the Sunday. I was out with my wife. The phone rang and it was Sir Alex. He asked whether I could drop by at his house. I assumed he might ask me to take someone on loan or want to buy one of my players but I didn’t care about that as much as the fact that I had my jeans on. I was just in jeans and a T-shirt, so I thought I’d drive home and get changed but my wife said there wouldn’t be time. So I dropped her at a shopping centre and set off on my own feeling uncomfortable, because ordinarily I would never, ever, go to a meeting with Sir Alex with a pair of jeans on. Had I known what was coming I would have felt even worse, but I had no idea.
“I got to the house and Sir Alex took me up the stairs, made a cup of tea, then told me what was happening. I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. He said he was retiring, in a week’s time, and I was the next United manager. My wife knew something was up the minute I picked her up again; I must have been acting strangely. She asked me what was the matter and I told her I was the Manchester United manager. I’m afraid I can’t repeat what she said. We both agreed not to say anything to the kids, although I did let them in on the secret the following Tuesday, when the story began to break. They were made up, as was my dad, who follows me everywhere. It was a big thing for the whole family, because it is a great honour to be the manager of this club.”
Moyes’ words are very interesting in the wider context of Sir Alex’s ultimate decision to retire from management.
I’ve long been of the opinion that contrary to what some might say- you get what you’ve been given- Sir Alex’s decision wasn’t made until maybe a couple of weeks before the actual announcement. The former United manager- it hurts to say that- has claimed that he knew for months and that the death of his wife’s sister in October made his mind up to retire.
While I’ve no doubt his sister-in-law’s death sowed the seed that became the tree of inevitability there’s still many reasons to think Sir Alex didn’t make the final decision until the weeks preceding the end of the season. The game against Chelsea had always troubled me somewhat, why pick such a weak side for what would be your penultimate home match, the final one against a really top side and the last time you’ll face one of you old adversaries in the dugout? Then there’s the fact not one person leaked it, no one, none of the coaching staff knew, none of the players, no one associated with the club had any inkling- not even Sikh wannabe journalists from Leicester.
Moyes’s comments at the press conference simply add to the air that Sir Alex didn’t make a final decision until towards the end of the season. Why, if Sir Alex knew by the turn of the year as has been suggested, did he suddenly call his successor one day and hastily arrange a meeting? Why not speak to Moyes much sooner, making sure he didn’t sign any form of extension with Everton or even make a deal with another club? Perhaps as has been suggested Sir Alex wanted to make sure the title was wrapped up, but that still wouldn’t explain the weakened side for the Chelsea game. Maybe we’ll never know the full ins and outs of the great man’s decision but the main thing is Moyes seemed happy to acknowledge that with Sir Alex still at the club, that’s a positive not a negative that should be embraced and even harnessed. Let the new era begin….