Moyes' time may have come
Published 08/05/2013 | 17:11
Steve McClaren got the job instead, a decision Moyes says he was "fine with" as he was enjoying his first managerial job at Preston. Perhaps Ferguson had worried that Moyes was almost too similar, too much a chip off the same block?
"When I went to speak to him about becoming his assistant years ago he thought me a little too intense," Moyes said last year. "But I remember sitting on the bench at Celtic and watching him at Aberdeen with his veins bulging out of his neck!"
Certainly, Ferguson kept tabs on the up-and-coming North End manager and soon became a keen fan of a man who achieved remarkable success on extremely limited resources at Everton.
Born in Glasgow, and like Ferguson earning a living as a moderate professional footballer, Moyes realised that his forte was going to be in management. Moyes and Ferguson both had less than successful spells at the Old Firm clubs - Moyes at Celtic, Ferguson at Rangers. Both had spells at Dunfermline but while Ferguson spent his playing career in Scotland, Moyes headed south of the border.
He played for Cambridge, Bristol City and Shrewsbury, before returning to Scotland - Dunfermline and Hamilton Academical - and then finally settling down in Preston where he ended his career as player-manager. His first full season saw Preston reach the Division Two play-offs, and in his second North End won the title, and a year after that were in the Division One play-off final.
That swift transformation caught the eye of Everton, and it was to Moyes the Merseysiders turned in March 2002 after Walter Smith was sacked. His first full season saw Everton finish seventh, a remarkable achievement that earned him the first of three League Managers' Association manager-of-the-year awards.
Moyes also showed he had bravery - it was he who decided to unleash a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney on to the Premier League. It was also Moyes who showed that Everton could survive and even flourish without their star player - for the first season without Rooney, 2004-5, was the one they finished highest: fourth place and another LMA award for Moyes.
In 2009, Everton were beaten FA Cup finalists - having beaten United in the semi-final - finished fifth in the league to secure a fourth European qualification in five seasons and Moyes picked up a third manager-of-the-year award.
To many it seemed just a question of when rather than if that those piercing blue eyes would be occupying the manager's dug-out at Old Trafford. Now, it appears, that time has finally come.