Perhaps the greatest insight came away from the cameras, in one of the main conference rooms at Manchester United's training ground, when David Moyes invited the staff to his opening address as manager and reflected on that meeting, in the first week of May, when Sir Alex Ferguson looked him in the eye and informed him matter-of-factly that life was about to change forever.
Moyes went through the same story at his first press conference, of how Ferguson had invited him to his house and he had driven to Wilmslow without any real clue of what was to come. "I was expecting him to say: 'I'm going to take one of your players' or something. I went in and the first thing he said was: 'I'm retiring.' I said: 'When?' because he was never retiring! He said: 'Next week.' And his next words were: 'You're the next Manchester United manager.' I didn't get the chance to say yes or no. I was told that I was the next Manchester United manager and that was enough."
Moyes was still shaking his head as he went through the details. "As you can imagine, the blood drained from my face. I was shocked. More shocked that Sir Alex had chosen to retire. But inside, incredibly thrilled." Yet at Carrington – or the "Aon Training Centre" as the former Everton manager, already versing himself in the corporate speak of his new employers, obediently called it – he was even more candid. "I don't think I slept a minute that night," he told his new colleagues.
By his own admission, there is an element of trepidation. There was the odd flicker of nerves as well as he sat in the position where many had envisaged Pep Guardiola or José Mourinho might end up. The moment, for example, during that strategically rehearsed speech about Rooney when he talked of detecting a "chink" in the player's eye, then had to correct himself to make it "glint". Yet overall this was a confident display. Moyes talked like someone in awe of the place but Ferguson used to do the same into his 70s after a quarter of a century at the club.
The key is not being overawed. "I've come to a club where success is tattooed across the badge," Moyes said. "This club is about winning trophies and I've come here to continue that. It's something I'm looking forward to doing." Ferguson, one imagines, would have liked that statement, just as he would have approved of Moyes's spiky analysis of facing Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in his first five Premier League games. "It's a tough start and I'm not convinced that's the way the balls have come out of the hat when that was being done," he volunteered, without any flicker of humour. "I look back over the last five years and I've never seen Manchester United get a tougher start in any season."
The man who spent an average £803,000 net on transfers during his 11 years at Goodison Park now found himself being asked whether United could stump up £80m or so on one player in Cristiano Ronaldo. He would not discuss any transfer targets individually, sparing himself questions about Thiago Alcântara and Leighton Baines, but there was a considerable clue during his reply on the Ronaldo issue. "The club is always interested in the best players," he said.
United would "play the same way, the same traditions of entertaining, exciting football" and that patently will involve Rooney unless the player has other ideas and is prepared to take on the club. That was the one thing, amid all the talk about Rooney not being for sale and having the potential to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton as United's record scorer, that Moyes could not confirm. Had Rooney categorically stated he wanted to stay? "I can tell you categorically that Wayne Rooney is training fantastically well. That's all I can categorically tell you."
Within half an hour of that first meeting with Ferguson, the man who won 38 major trophies for the club was already drilling Moyes about the squad he was going to inherit. "I've not got all of them back yet as a lot of them are coming back from different tournaments," Moyes said. "But the biggest thing I've been really impressed with is their attitude and the way they have gone about their work. Total professionals."
Ferguson, it has since transpired, is unsure whether his presence at Old Trafford next season, certainly in the opening few months, might increase the pressure on Moyes. "I hope he is sitting in the directors' box," the new manager countered. "He has been so good to me. I have already called him two or three times for some advice. He's not there to pressure me."
Rather than all the talk about what happened to Wilf McGuinness and Frank O'Farrell in United's past, Moyes clearly wants to tap into Ferguson in the same way his predecessor used to with Sir Matt Busby. Moyes, after all, has never managed in the Champions League proper or won a trophy, but here he was talking about going for every piece of silverware available.
"When you are at Manchester United, my thinking is that you go for everything, you attempt to win everything. I have done it everywhere else I've been and I will certainly do it here because I have a bigger squad, [better] quality players and a club with the tradition of winning things."
"I'm inexperienced in a lot of things and there were some brilliant managers who could have quite easily taken this role. But the biggest confidence I could have is that Sir Alex Ferguson said to me: 'You're the next Manchester United manager.'"
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