David Moyes could be forgiven on Monday morning for feeling as daunted as a five-year-old preparing for his first day at school and he will be greeted by a groaning in-tray on his inaugural morning as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United.
Top of the pile rests the Wayne Rooney question. The England forward has indicated he wants a fresh start at Old Trafford under his one-time Everton manager and is keen to discuss a new contract but Moyes must decide whether he wishes to keep Rooney or cash in now and use the funds for rebuilding.
Much may depend on whether Moyes believes Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernández and Shinji Kagawa might be better able to fulfil their potential – not to mention fill their preferred positions – were Rooney not around. Selling Rooney could conceivably facilitate a signing such as Cristiano Ronaldo.
A return from Real Madrid for Ronaldo would represent quite a coup for Moyes, as would the capture of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur, but he needs to ensure any import is compatible with Robin van Persie et al.
While Moyes is expected to encourage United to make another bid for the Everton left-back Leighton Baines he already appears secure in the knowledge that his backroom team of Steve Round, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden are following him east along the M62 from Merseyside. That trio replace Ferguson's United coaching cadre of Mike Phelan, René Meulensteen and Eric Steele.
Such wholesale change threatens to slow the development of a training-ground rapport with players, so Moyes may be keen to persuade Phil Neville to join his boot room and supply a reassuring link with the past.
The new coaches must work with a surprisingly threadbare midfield, desperately craving reinforcement. Kevin Strootman of PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona's Thiago Alcantara and Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye have been mentioned and Moyes can only hope that at least one new midfielder is settling in seven weeks hence, when United commence their Premier League campaign at Swansea City.
More immediately, players return for fitness assessments on Tuesday and Wednesday before training begins on Thursday. Then, on 10 July, the new manager – expected to give his first press conference in Ferguson's old chair this week – will start really bonding with his squad when they depart for Thailand and the first leg of a pre-season tour embracing the Far East and Australia.
Private conversations in hotel bedrooms and aircraft cabins could prove pivotal as Moyes strives to win hearts and minds.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Jason Gulledge