Before the start of the 2001-02 season, Sir Alex had insinuated that he planned to retire, and United had started seeking successors. However, a dismal run of form in that season perhaps changed Ferguson’s mind, and he decided to stick around.
It’s been 10 whole years since that date, and one cannot help but come to the conclusion that Ferguson cannot shelve his retirement plans forever, and the luminous day that he announces his retirement must be looming.
Plentiful options do remain as to who might be the successor to one of the greatest clubs of all time—from Jose Mourinho to “baby-faced assassin” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, in my opinion, I see one man more fit for the United job than the others, and that man is Everton’s manager David Moyes.
Here are 10 reasons why I consider him to be the best replacement for Ferguson.
David Moyes is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League.
He is the third-longest serving manager in England after Sir Alex and Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger. He is established, and United will know what kind of service they will be receiving from a manager like Moyes.
Former United manager Tommy Docherty had this to say. “Alec will probably move upstairs, but he will want a new manager who knows how the game is played, how the club should be run and keep in contact with him about what's going on.”
While candidates like Jose Mourinho and Josep "Pep" Guardiola might also be front-runners for such a prestigious position, they do have one major flaw. Neither manager is considered to be a "one-club man."
Mourinho left Porto to join Chelsea, which he left to join Inter Milan. After Inter won the UEFA Champions League in 2010, he left to join heavyweights Real Madrid. It hasn’t been more than two years, and he has already hinted at a return to the Premier League.
It's the same with Guardiola. He only signed one-year contract extensions, and he was exhausted from football after less than five years of managing at the highest level.
United have always been a stable club, managerially. Sure, managers have come and gone, but those that have led United to unprecedented heights were managers like Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.
David Moyes is a loyal manager. He has been at Everton for 10 years, and despite interest from other clubs, he has stuck with Everton.
Here's what ESPN Soccernet writer Richard Jolly has to say about David Moyes:
He walked into a relegation-threatened club, short of confidence and struggling for goals; one whose only wins in 11 games came against the lesser lights of Leyton Orient and Crewe. He was an untried manager at the highest level, a journeyman defender turned coach who was confronted by a dressing room of players only a few years his junior and with rather more concrete achievements in their careers. He flourished.
David Moyes is a successful manager. Sure, he does not have trophies to show for it, but silverware is not the only benchmark of success.
For an example, look at Roy Hodgson. He has not won any major trophies during his stupendous managerial reign, yet he was appointed as the manager of England after Fabio Capello's resignation.
Despite operating on a shoe-string budget, Moyes has led Everton to a strong finish every season, and precisely four top-six finishes in 10 years. Furthermore, his club represents a solid side against which no result is predictable—heavyweights do not simply come into Goodison Park expecting an easy fixture. It is always tight.
During Moyes’ reign, Everton have qualified for the UEFA Cup thrice, and qualified for the UEFA Champions League in 2004-05. He also led them to an FA Cup final in 2009 only to be defeated by Chelsea, and this season Liverpool stood in the way of another final.
In January 2012, Moyes became the fourth manager (after Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp) to record 150 wins in the Premier League.
David Moyes cares about his players. That cannot be said about all managers—the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas saw the Chelsea dressing room go into disarray and players throwing tantrums.
Can you imagine such a similar situation at Old Trafford? Certainly not.
At Everton, the manager is respected, and the manager respects his players.
Lee Carsley, former midfield player at Everton, stated about Moyes recently, "One of his greatest strengths is his man-management: his honesty and integrity. He had faith in me and he made me realise how good a player I could be."
David Moyes is one of the most respected managers in Premier League history. His management qualities are universally praised and his demeanour admired.
A testament to his talent is that he is a staggering three-time recipient of the LMA Manager of the Year (an award voted by fellow managers), tied with Sir Alex Ferguson himself.
David Moyes is the king of making astute transfers. He never breaks the bank, minimizes risk and knows exactly what kind of player is needed and brings them in.
He makes new signings on a regular basis, which not only boosts morale amongst the players and fans alike, but does so on a shoe-string budget. During this January transfer window, he made four signings—Nikica Jelavic, Steven Pienaar (loan), Landon Donovan (loan), and Darron Gibson.
All of these transfers have been fantastic, especially the acquisition of the Croatian Jelavic—who has already scored eight goals in 10 appearances in the Premier League.
Astute dealings over the years have included staple players like Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, and a host of others.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said, "The one thing he does know is he gets every single brass farthing available and he does know no-one takes any money out of this club."
Despite having stayed with Everton for the past decade, David Moyes will likely not end his managerial career there.
Everton is a great team with plenty of great supporters, a rich history and a wonderful heritage. However, the rise of other clubs has meant that it is difficult for Everton to win silverware.
Bill Kenwright, Everton's chairman, has hinted that there is a need to find a new owner, as he has stated that Moyes is ambitious and it is imperative that he be able to operate on a bigger budget.
At Everton, he has always sought that extra mile, and it his ambition that has guided Everton to such strong finishes. Such an attitude at United could and would work wonders. A stronger budget with a great potential to attract and breed talent would be a perfect combination for David Moyes to haul in the trophies.
One factor that also has to be taken into account about the possibility of David Moyes succeeding Ferguson is that Ferguson has been an ardent admirer of Moyes and his work at Everton, and he has reportedly tipped him to succeed as the manager at United himself.
Former United manager Tommy Docherty also believes that Moyes is the heir apparent for the job, stating, “I think it will be David Moyes because they are good friends. He's done a great job at Everton with no money ... If I was a gambling man I would say David Moyes. He's an ex-player, but not a great player, just as Sir Alex wasn't a great player, but their records as managers are fantastic.”
Alex Ferguson has accomplished what no other manager has. He has kept United at the pinnacle, despite being in transition between players, staff and board.
Time and again, from Eric Cantona to Nemanja Vidic, he has made astute dealings which have allowed him to form a blend of youth and experience who have, despite the harshest circumstances, claimed glory.
This is all down to long-term planning and exceptional vision.
If you look at David Moyes, he has done the same thing with Everton.
Andy Burham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, once said, "Mr. David Moyes is probably a fine example to everybody in government of stability and making the right decisions for the long term.”
Just as a recap, we see that David Moyes is a loyal, affable, resourceful manager who has been universally revered for his managerial astuteness.
He is a complete package, and one that would fare well with the United faithful and players.
In my opinion, he represents the most feasible heir apparent to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Follow me on Twitter: @BrenGoetze