Continuity also a priority for Moyes

Posted by Musa Okwonga

So it is official. David Moyes has been named as manager of Manchester United, being handed a six-year contract effective from the beginning of July. And now the inquisition begins, central to which is the issue of perhaps his greatest challenge.

Moyes has been handed this job upon the express recommendation of Sir Alex Ferguson, a man to whom he is particularly close; moreover, he has inherited a squad still rolling from the momentum of a championship.

The main question is when and whether Moyes will make this team his own: whether he will forge a title-winning side in his own image or merely appear to be holding the role in trust for his predecessor.

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Of course, the reality will be far from the case. Moyes is a proud man and is unafraid to ride roughshod over the opinions of those who oppose him. But if he does not win a trophy within the first two years, or if he does not do so with a distinctive style of football, then the perception that Moyes is a proxy will be almost inescapable.

But, but, but. The best parallel to draw here, if we are to be favourable to the unanimous intentions of Manchester United's board, is with the succession of Liverpool's Bob Paisley by Joe Fagan in the early 1980s. Fagan, unlike Moyes, did not have several years of experience of topflight management, but he had graduated from the Boot Room, Anfield's repository of coaching excellence.

A close friendship with Ferguson, it seems, is the modern version of the Boot Room, and Moyes is apparently its most promising graduate.

If Moyes accepts this parallel -- that he is there to provide not dazzling innovation but years of continuity and a steady hand on the tiller -- then his prospects are promising. After all, it didn't suit Fagan too badly, who went on to reach two European Cup finals in three years, winning one and losing the second.

Fans without success are fickle. Ultimately, if Moyes continues the flow of silverware then the current clamour of disapproval at his anointment will simmer. The charge that he is Ferguson's puppet is unfair, but it will persist; given his uncommon resolve, though, it would be unwise to bet against him swiftly hauling a trophy or two onto the Old Trafford mantelpiece.

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