David Moyes will become the Manchester United manager within the next 24 hours following Alex Ferguson's recommendation to the club's hierarchy that his fellow Scot succeed him at Old Trafford.
Moyes, whose £4m-a-year contract at Goodison Park expires at the end of the season, was in London yesterday evening to discuss his departure from Everton with the club chairman Bill Kenwright, who last night said that a deal had yet to be concluded.
But with United earlier confirming that Ferguson will end his 27-year reign as manager following the Premier League fixture against West Brom at The Hawthorns on May 19, Moyes' arrival at Old Trafford is understood to be a formality, with the champions hoping to conclude negotiations today.
Despite long-term speculation linking Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho with the United job in the wake of Ferguson's retirement, the Portuguese was not considered by the club's American owners, the Glazer family, after being informed by Ferguson in late February that this season would be his last.
With Ferguson making his intentions clear, no effort was made by Gill or the Glazers to trigger a change of mind.
The Glazers and United's outgoing chief executive David Gill sought Ferguson's advice on the man best suited to succeed him and, having nominated Moyes, senior figures at the club have confirmed that the 71-year-old's contribution was fundamental to the decision to pursue Moyes.
Although Moyes' lack of Champions League experience has been raised as a potential handicap to his ability to build on Ferguson's legacy of two European Cups, United are confident that the 50-year-old will thrive in Europe's elite.
Leading figures in the game, including Ferguson, have made it clear to Gill and the Glazers that Moyes' tactical acumen is the equal of Europe's leading coaches, while his commitment to building teams and his longevity at Everton have also been cited as crucial factors in United's decision to recruit him.
It remains to be seen how Moyes will deal with Wayne Rooney whose future at the club remains in doubt despite Ferguson's insistence last month that he would not be sold.
Ferguson and Moyes have formed a strong relationship since the then-Preston North End manager rejected the opportunity to become Ferguson's assistant in 1999 and their shared principles have created a sense within United that they have hired a man who bears a close resemblance to the 44-year-old enticed from Aberdeen as Ron Atkinson's successor in 1986.
Ferguson's decision to retire is understood to be based on his belief that the time is right to leave the club having restored United to a position of dominance both locally and nationally.
Plans to undergo hip surgery later this summer have been dismissed by United sources as not influencing a retirement decision that had been finalised as much as three months ago.
"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly," Ferguson said. "It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
"The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.
"Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both director and ambassador for the club.
"With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future.
Although Ferguson has accepted the role of non-executive director, he will not have an office at Old Trafford or Carrington, with his retirement described by sources as being a "clean break", therefore sparing Moyes the prospect of his predecessor's presence in a similar manner to Matt Busby's following his retirement in 1969.
And Martin Edwards, the chairman who appointed Ferguson as manager in 1986, insists he will not present a distraction for Moyes.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)