After 26 years in charge at Old Trafford, 13 league titles, five FA Cup wins, two Champions League titles and an array of other competitions and individual honour, Sir Alex Ferguson retires as the most successful British manager in history from the most popular club in the world.
That’s a hard act to follow. David Moyes’ first and foremost battle is likely going to be one against himself and his own inferiority to the man he replaces. That’s not his fault and it’s not something the fans are going to intentionally bestow upon him but it’s the reality.
Until the day when David Moyes has been at Manchester United 26 years and achieved the success that Ferguson did, he is always going to be comparatively lesser.
In a way, his willingness to take on the position is admirable and certainly the mark of man with great sense of self and of little insecurity of his own ability. That he is happy to accept this natural comparison to his predecessor is, in itself, worthy of commendation and respect.
But you just know the media are not going to adhere themselves to this concept – people are not naturally going to pay him this respect and this admiration as a given. The issue will always be that he’ll have to earn it.
He deserves respect as a man and as a professional, regardless, but unfortunately that is not something the world of sport always and consistently upholds.
David Moyes will have to bear the burden of carrying this weight of Ferguson’s success with him until the day when he matches that success or surpasses it. The papers are already at it with the ‘it wouldn’t have happened in Fergie’s day’ slant, which, even as a joke, has an implied dig in it and is derisory in nature.
The new Manchester United manager undertakes task of proving himself as equal to the old Manchester United manager but his greatest feat will be remaining self-assured that is equal in competence, equal in ability and equal in autonomy. He must not allow himself to develop a complex of inferiority.
image: © Jason Gulledge