Sir Alex Ferguson is contemplating staying away from David Moyes's first run of matches at Manchester United out of concerns his presence may undermine his successor and potentially increase the pressure on the club's new manager.
While Ferguson's natural desire is to see the start of a new era in which Ryan Giggs takes on a player-coach role, the former United manager has confided to friends that he is unsure whether he should take a visible role out of respect to Moyes.
Instead, he is exploring the possibilities of whether there is an executive box at Old Trafford where he will be able to watch in privacy, or even whether it would be better to keep away from fixtures such as Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford on 24 August, Moyes's first home game in charge.
Uppermost in his thoughts is that there will be television cameras on him throughout every game, looking for a reaction to how United are doing under the new regime. Ferguson is aware that photographers will have their lenses trained on him and that he could still unwittingly form part of the story, especially if the team do not get off to a good start in their defence of the Premier League title.
One example he has cited is if the opposition score and the likelihood then that television cameras will cut straight to him in the directors' box. Pictures of him looking displeased, he knows, would make Moyes's job even more difficult when the former Everton manager already has enough challenges ahead of him.
Moyes will hold his first press conference as United's manager on Friday and will be braced for questions about whether Wayne Rooney has a future at the club, as well as the proposed signing of Thiago Alcântara from Barcelona and the failed bid for the Everton left-back Leighton Baines.
Giggs's promotion signals Moyes's desire to tap into the experience of someone who has spent his entire working life at Old Trafford. Phil Neville, who has been made a coach, joined Giggs on the training ground and Nicky Butt, another former player who understands the club well, was also involved in Moyes's first session with the players, in keeping with Ferguson's desire to emulate the Bayern Munich model and find positions for former club servants.
Giggs, who has been busily accumulating his coaching badges and hopes to be Uefa Pro Licence-level within the next year, is viewed by many at Old Trafford as a future United manager. "It's no secret that I have been taking my qualifications and I see this as the first step in my future career," he said. "I'm really looking forward to working alongside David Moyes and the team."
Moyes said: "I'm delighted Ryan has accepted the chance to become player-coach. His success and ability to adapt his game over a number of years gives him an unrivalled perspective on the modern game. His career is an example to any aspiring young player and I'm sure that both he and the players will benefit from his new role."
Moyes also moved quickly to bring Neville back to Old Trafford, the pair having been together at Everton for the past eight years after. Moyes made Neville his captain at Goodison Park and the pair have huge respect for one another.
"I gave my all when I played for Everton but it is no secret that this club is in my heart," said Neville. "When David called to give me this opportunity, I couldn't resist."
He added: "I've really enjoyed working with David and his staff as a player and I think that, together with Ryan, we can make a real contribution to Manchester United."
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