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Chosen one forged from same steel as master

The mentor is finally united with the apprentice.

It is no surprise Alex Ferguson sees a little of his younger self in his prodigy David Moyes.

There is the plain speaking, the occasional presence of a Glaswegian scowl, the fixed glare that could scorch Govan steel and, of course, that same Scotch twang.

More significantly, Moyes is the natural successor to Ferguson because they speak the same language about what makes a winning team.

Application combined with pragmatism with the necessary hint of despotism; understanding what is at your disposal and maximising it. Running the football club in your own image, whether you are in charge of St Mirren or Preston; Manchester United or Everton.

Ferguson – and let us not kid ourselves that anyone else at Old Trafford is behind this appointment – believes what Moyes has achieved at Goodison Park is as impressive as anything below the upper echelons of the Premier League.

This is how Ferguson paid tribute to Moyes' 10th anniversary at Everton last season.


"Some managers are doing great jobs with the resources they have and David Moyes has been unbelievable," said Ferguson. "I put him in the top six because what he's done at Everton has been quite miraculous."

The relationship between the two Glaswegians has always had a paternal quality. In moving to Old Trafford, Moyes simply replaces the speed dial with a dash upstairs to the directors' box.

Moyes is affable away from the pressure of matchday but, like Ferguson, he does not suffer fools or prima donnas. He is tuned in to every facet of modern footballing trends while harbouring a healthy contempt for anyone carrying the menace of being patronising of either him or his team's attributes.

In an era when football managers can increasingly sound like gurus who could be life-coaches at a health spa if they had not earned their Uefa badges, Moyes, like Ferguson, marries traditional with contemporary.

This is a destiny fulfilled. He began his coaching courses at the age of 22. By the 1998 World Cup he was shadowing international managers equipped with his notepad. Having initially been an assistant at Preston, that was also the year he was promoted to his first managerial position.

He could have joined Ferguson after one season at Deepdale. The United manager interviewed him in 1999 for the assistant's job he gave to Steve McClaren, Moyes later said he may have appeared too intense during interview.

Preston thrived, winning promotion to the old Division One – now the Championship – before missing out on the Premier League via the play-offs in 2001.

When he left Preston, supporters lamented the departure of a coach who had played a brand of slick, attractive football – another testimony to a manager who should not be connected to particular tactics. This is significant.

Throughout his Everton career Moyes has won in different ways. Initially through organisation and grit, then with a little more technique – lately playing with far more flair and adventure than some have given him credit for.

He knows how to build a team and shift formations as and when is necessary. Arriving at Everton, a club fighting relegation, Moyes assembled a side to scrap.

Ask Moyes to define his playing style now and he will be suspicious of the question. He admitted as much at a coaching seminar in Gleneagles five years ago, with Ferguson and former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier sitting alongside him.

"What is your football philosophy?" the trio were asked.

Ferguson spoke about his preference for two speedy wingers. Houllier emphasised the need for power and pace. Moyes shuffled uncomfortably for a moment before keeping it simple.

"I just want to win," he said.

There is no Moyes dogma as such, other than to adapt to whatever circumstances are thrust upon you. He has never had the resources of Manchester United before.

Moyes' credentials in youth development have also been emphasised by his new employers. Wayne Rooney and Jack Rodwell have been Everton's headline revenue-makers, but look out for Kieran Dowell and Ryan Ledson soon.

United want Moyes to sprinkle magic dust over their Academy. Moyes lost a key recruiting scout Mick Doherty to Chelsea last year, so expect him to try and get him back north.

In Martin Waldron, Everton also possess one of the most coveted schoolboy development chiefs in the Premier League.

He leaves behind a solid infrastructure at Goodison and will enhance what exists at the same level at Old Trafford.

In truth, the apprenticeship ended years ago for Moyes, but in becoming Manchester United manager his full graduation is complete. Now he must add the honours. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent