x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Before David Moyes takes over, plenty of comings and goings at Old Trafford

As a new coaching reign takes over at Manchester United, many assistants and staff members remain in limbo until new manager David Moyes officially takes the helm in July, writes Andy Mitten.

Even though he has not officially taken over at Manchester United just yet, David Moyes has been meeting with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and questions still remain about his coaching staff. Matthew Lewis / Getty Images
Even though he has not officially taken over at Manchester United just yet, David Moyes has been meeting with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and questions still remain about his coaching staff. Matthew Lewis / Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson used to send his kitman to meet new Manchester United signings at Manchester Airport.

Norman Davies, who retired in 1995 and died in 2008, would be dispatched to the airport armed with a picture of the player he was looking out for.

If the player was not famous, he would hold a board out with his name on.

Davies, a former taxi driver, would wait with a cigarette – and then admonish any players on the dangers of smoking if they asked for one. Because the media were not aware of the club's intentions, the big name signings would arrive incognito.

Ferguson even met one or two himself, like the Norwegian defender Ronnie Johnsen.

Football's profile has risen irrevocably to the extent that Davies' replacement, former mechanic Albert Morgan, is semi-famous himself. So United now send unknown members of staff to meet players while Morgan gets the bigger gigs.

On Monday, he was charged with taking David Moyes to Carrington, 41 days before he officially takes charge of Manchester United. Everton gave Moyes permission and he met Ferguson and some staff at United's training ground.

Ferguson wants to be on hand to help Moyes if needed, but he does not want the shadow of his significant presence to hamper his replacement.

When he told his players that he was leaving two weeks ago, he added that they would not see him for a while. He also told them never to call him "boss" again because they would have a new boss who would be afforded that privilege.

He does not want a repeat of the mistake of United's other great, long-serving manager, Sir Matt Busby, who retained his office at Old Trafford after his departure in 1970, remained very close to senior players and was viewed as having power without a position. Subsequent managers claimed it was impossible to manage with him there.

Many of Ferguson's staff, the coaches and fitness staff, are concerned about their futures. Their former boss was unable to guarantee them jobs, though he said that he hoped they could be accommodated.

Even his able lieutenants – the senior coaching staff – had no idea that he was leaving the day before his announcement.

They have gone from evaluating summer signings to wondering whether they will be taken on by Moyes, who has built his own staff whom he trusts and respects at Everton. Several are under the impression that they are following him to Manchester.

There are further changes at United, with several long-serving staff departing and chief executive David Gill also leaving to make way for Ed Woodward, 40.

Woodward needs to get up to speed with dealing with Gill's key areas: liaising with his manager (Woodward conducted the interview for Moyes), agents and transfer negotiations.

United were sure that Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to return to Old Trafford in time for next season and work under Ferguson. Ronaldo does not know Moyes.

Kitman Morgan drove both Ferguson and his friend Moyes, 50, from Carrington for more talks.

Moyes is fortunate that that the changeover is a friendly one and he will absorb as much information as he can from Ferguson.

But once he returns at the end of next month ahead of United's extended July pre-season tour to Australia, Japan and Hong Kong, he will be his own man trying to fill some enormous shoes.

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