Ferguson backed the decision to axe Moyes
Alex Ferguson backed the decision to remove David Moyes as Manchester United manager and will have a key role in finding a successor, with Carlo Ancelotti leading a three-man shortlist of candidates to become the new manager at Old Trafford.
Ferguson, who hand-picked Moyes as the man to replace him last year, was part of a group of directors including Bobby Charlton and former chief exective David Gill who decided Moyes had run out of time on Sunday night.
With Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola and Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp ruling themselves out of contention for the position within hours of confirmation of Moyes' dismissal yesterday, United remain determined to recruit a proven manager with experience of winning major trophies.
Ryan Giggs, who has been appointed interim manager for the final four games of this season, will not be considered as a permanent successor to Moyes, but the 40-year-old is regarded as having a role to play under whoever is handed the job.
Real Madrid coach Ancelotti is understood to be the favoured candidate among senior figures at Old Trafford, however, with Holland coach Louis van Gaal and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone making up United's hit-list.
Although Ancelotti could yet guide Real – who face Bayern Munich in a Champions League semi-final tonight – to their 10th European Cup this season, the Italian has struggled to settle at the Bernabeu and has concerns over the security of his position, regardless of whether Real win the Champions League in Lisbon next month.
United are aware of Ancelotti's issues in Spain and while the former Chelsea coach would prove difficult to lure from Real if his employers resist attempts to prise him from his three-year contract, there is a determination at Old Trafford to aim high and land the best candidate.
United distanced themselves from claims by Ancelotti last year that Ferguson had approached him about the possibility of replacing him, but the 54-year-old is regarded as a proven winner at Old Trafford and there would be no concerns over the financial cost of matching his £6m-a-year Real salary.
Van Gaal remains a strong candidate, however, after making it clear to United that he would be keen to take charge at the club. The Dutchman is understood to have held conversations with United intermediaries and his close relationship with Robin van Persie, who struggled to hide his disdain with Moyes's regime, is a strong card in his favour. And while United are aware of the potential complication of Van Gaal being occupied by Holland at the World Cup until mid-July, it is not regarded as a deal-breaker.
Similarly, Simeone's inability to speak English is not viewed as an obstacle to the Argentinian being appointed at Old Trafford, although there are strong indications in Spain that the 43-year-old will commit himself to a new contract at Atletico, who could end the season with a La Liga and Champions League double.
Within the dressing-room, there is support for Giggs to be handed the job on a permanent basis, with some senior players concerned by the prospect of working under a man with the abrasive reputation of Van Gaal. The views of the squad will not be in a factor in the board's decision, however.
Moyes' departure was confirmed during a meeting involving Woodward, Ferguson and other senior figures following the 2-0 defeat against Everton on Sunday. And although the decision was not communicated to Moyes by Woodward until 7.40am at the Carrington training ground yesterday, the Scot and his coaching staff had been bracing themselves for the news prior to it breaking on Easter Monday. Moyes met with his players to confirm his departure at 9.30am.
He had arrived at Carrington at 4.30am to avoid media and clear his desk before meeting Woodward. With Moyes having been told of his dismissal Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the League Managers Association, was called to Carrington to finalise the manager's £4.5m settlement and wording of statements, which are likely to follow. Moyes is understood to have been upset by the apparent leaking of the news of his departure, but the 50-year-old was also aware that his position had been under threat since the 2-0 Champions League defeat against Olympiakos.
Moyes' coaches, Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden, were also informed that their employment had been terminated yesterday, but goalkeeper coach Chris Woods and first-team coach Phil Neville will remain on the staff until the summer alongside Giggs and Nicky Butt, who has been promoted from his reserve-team role to assist Giggs. A period of due diligence on all of the leading candidates will now take place over the next fortnight, with an appointment unlikely to be confirmed before the final game of the season at Southampton on May 11.
Previously identified transfer targets will continue to be pursued, with the club's scouting team having already fine-tuned the list put forward by Moyes. But with the focus now fixed on recruiting the right man, the blueprint laid out by the Glazers is to recruit a man who will get United 'winning again'. (© Daily Telegraph, London)