When Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement three days ago after 26 years in charge of Manchester United, it ushered in an era that many at Old Trafford and beyond could never truly envisage: an era without Sir Alex Ferguson.
Rarely is it in life that we are endowed with the good fortune to appreciate an individual for his merits during his own lifetime. As all opposing fans whose collective hearts have been broken by the Govan native will attest: Ferguson's vision and drive are second to none.
And so it has always been vision that separates the good from the exceptional, none more evident than at Manchester United, both historically and presently. The manner in which the club conducts itself publicly and privately is as enviable as the revolving door of Premier League managers is revolting.
You can be sure then, if past pragmatism is to be believed, that the current Premier League champions have gone to lengthy means to ensure that the manager who replaces the greatest of them all, will fall in line with the values and core beliefs of the three-time European Champions.
For these reasons it is easy to understand why Manchester United have avoided the land mine that is the highly successful and immeasurably charismatic Jose Mourniho. It appears that a short stop solution to a long-term problem is not how you solve a problem like Ferguson retiring.
As has been widely documented, the man who will bequeath the riches of a lifetime of hard work by Ferguson will be another Scottish man; cut from the same cloth and in the prime position to extend a legacy that has seen Manchester United exceed all expectations ever thought possible within a 26-year period.
The former Preston North End player and manager David Moyes will take the reigns at one of the world's most prestigious and prolific clubs from July 1st. After 11 years in charge at Everton, many will argue that he has the subsequent pedigree and track record to take one of most football's most simultaneously enviable and impossible tasks: replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.
What many have been quick to focus on is the lack of trophies on Moyes' CV; something that is massively deceptive as to the worth of a manager. In the case of Moyes, it does him a disservice to extrapolate his worth based on the fact that Steven Gerrard has a better chance of gaining employment at Goodison than a trophy polisher does.
When a club—in this case Everton—have a net spend less than Fulham in the last 10 years, one has to question what exactly it is that was expected of Moyes during his tenure in Liverpool. If a top four finish, FA Cup final appearance and balanced books aren't enough to expect from a team that has no real right to be in the top four, then I'm not completely enlightened as to what is.
During his time at Everton, he achieved an average league position of eighth, which is commendable when one considers the influx of billionaire owners. The Premier League of the last decade has seen the ushering in of a time of unprecedented wealth and unscrupulous ambitions. Just look at QPR and ask yourself if money, ambition and colossal wage bills are a substitute for stability, familiarity and a team rather than individuals.
What's most important from a Manchester United fan stand point is the tempering of expectations over the coming years. For the last 26, Ferguson has provided a period of utter trophy excess that will have led many Manchester United fans into a period of unrealistic expectations.
For many supporters, they have never known another manager at Old Trafford, nor have they seen Manchester United finish outside the top three in the Premier League since it's inception in 1992. Naturally, there will be a level of disconcertion should the golden goose endeavor to stop laying the golden eggs.
There is no other club in world football at present that had a manager who controlled so many different aspects of one club. Moyes won't be expected to continue this in vein, meaning that there will be new people required to carry out roles that will impact the club as a whole. What may seem obvious, but is oft forgotten, is that there's more to a club than the squad and the manager.
A key cog in the United wheel is David Gill, who Ferguson has attested to as having been a keystone in the club's success during his time there. For Moyes, he will not have the luxury of Gill at his side, as the current Chief Executive will retire from his position at the end of the season to be replaced by Ed Woodward.
All the extraneous circumstances that are part of the new era are going to impact upon Moyes, and the six-year contract he has been given seems to reflect the cub's understanding of this. The transition cannot be expected to be smooth, but the fans need to adopt a level of realism that allows Moyes to acclimatize to his new position in the hottest of hot seats.
What's most important now is that Moyes continues the traditions of Manchester United: building teams with a blend of youth and experience; something he did comprehensively at Goodison Park. Whether trophies come along while doing this is not as consequential as the fans will undoubtedly believe.
Football is cyclical; you only need to look at Liverpool to see this. Now that there is more money in the game than ever before, there are no teams who are entitled—because of their history—to having their name carved on any piece of silverware.
Success takes time and patience, and Manchester United and their fans should be willing to give David Moyes both. Just remember it took Alex Ferguson four years to win his first trophy at United; and what came after that was mesmeric. Ferguson knows a gem when he sees one and fortunately has been highly involved in the recruitment of Moyes.
To that effect let the new banners at Old Trafford read:
''In Fergie we trust, in Moyes we must.''