New United boss Moyes in his own words: Why Rooney is still the main man, his plea to clamp down on divers… and how he handled Gazza and Big Dunc at Everton
While the Manchester United squad were dancing on an open-top bus in front of 100,000 supporters, David Moyes addressed the Cambridge University Union on Monday night in one of his first public appearances since being unveiled as the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Moyes was asked a series of questions that offer a fascinating insight into his vision for United’s academy, his philosophy of football and his ambition for his time at Old Trafford.
He describes Wayne Rooney as an ‘outstanding talent’, insists that longevity is the secret to success, and demands retrospective action to punish cheats that dive in the game.
Here are his words..
Speech: David Moyes arrives at Cambridge Union on Monday night for his talk
Chosen one: Moyes will take over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United next season
On walking into Everton
‘They teach you a lot of things on these coaching courses but they don’t tell you what to do when you stroll into a dressing room to see Paul Gascoigne, Duncan Ferguson and David Ginola waiting for you as I did when I took over at Everton in 2002. And I’m thinking “Oh no! What am I going to say? – They probably don’t even know who I am”. It was tough but we worked hard and I had support from an excellent team of staff.’
On dealing with Paul Gascoigne on his first day
‘Paul Gascoigne was crying, in tears, when I walked in. And I am thinking “What am I supposed to do here?” I joined when Paul was about to sign for Burnley. I had just left Preston and they were set to play Burnley in their next game but I couldn’t let my old team Preston play against Paul Gascoigne – could you imagine?’
‘The fans would have gone mad! I managed to delay the move just long enough but it was a real carry on! Paul was a great guy, everyone in the game is trying to help him and I’m glad to hear he is doing better now.’
On Wayne Rooney
‘When we sold him at Everton, Wayne was an outstanding talent and a really good player. We would watch him in training and say “Wow, did he really just do that?” You could see the staff looking across at each other shaking their heads in disbelief. He was football mad – heading the ball and volleying the ball here, there and everywhere. He was just a really good 16-year-old footballer.
‘He would just leave the training ground and play football with his pals on the street and think nothing of it. A lot of people use the term “street footballers” and I think Wayne was the last of the street footballers, hitting the balls off the wall, playing with his mates. Part of that culture has gone from football. He reminded me of my days growing up in Glasgow where you would be playing on the streets but I do think he was the last of those great street players.’
On whether Rooney has fulfilled his potential or stagnated…
(Laughs) ‘I don’t watch all the Manchester United games! I have had my own job. But I do see international games and you are talking about one of the best players in the world. If you are an England supporter, you are thinking what a great player you have. If you are from Scotland, you’re saying ‘Oh no!’ – but he is a brilliant player. He has had a very good career.’
On whether his experience of inheriting Paul Gascoigne at Everton has prepared him for taking on Wayne Rooney
‘I hope that I may have matured a little bit myself since I was dealing with Paul Gascoigne and that I will be able to deal with that kind of situation a bit better. It’s great working with the big players but I can’t answer your question fully – I couldn’t quite hear the end of your question (laughs). Like Arsene Wenger would say – “I didn’t see it!”’
On diving and cheating
‘I would be in favour of retrospective action on diving. I referee the small-sided games in training and you can’t tell whether the players are diving or not – they’re so good at it! In fairness, the referees are very good on that and get it right more often than not.
‘We should look at the offences, though, and show up the divers. I have always told my players not to dive or cheat in any way. If it went to a panel and they find the player dived, I’d be the first to say the player deserves any punishment coming their way.’
On the importance of longevity
‘Chelsea have had a level of success and have won a lot of trophies but I can’t see how continually sacking and changing managers, especially when you have to pay so much in compensation, is helpful. I think the best clubs are those with longevity.
‘Sir Alex at Man United, when you look at everything he has achieved there. Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – you can see how the club has grown and the way he has developed players. Even at Everton, they gave me a chance and believed that I would get it right.
‘The owners and chairmen must be stable. They shouldn’t be too high when you win or too low when you lose. You really need to work for good people. I have worked for excellent people at Preston, including Bryan Gray and then a wonderful chairman in Bill Kenwright at Everton.’
‘The refereeing job is very difficult but if you ask me truthfully, I think it has been a hard year for referees. I don’t think they have had the best season.’
On continuing United’s tradition of academy players
‘Manchester United have always relied hugely on young players and my priority will always be to promote these talents. It is the right way to go. We need to be producing better English players and we are working to find the solutions. My aim would be to develop these young English players and get more and more coming through.
‘There are issues to resolve: How do we get them more games at a competitive level? I like the Spanish model where there is a ‘B’ team playing in the lower divisions. Could we implement the same here? That would be a starting point. Three years ago, I wanted to get the young Everton team into the conference, as it would be a good place to compete. The FA told us we would have to start from the bottom – in division 27 or something!’
On Mancini’s sacking (Moyes was speaking before Mancini’s sacking was confirmed)
‘It is difficult to say on Mancini because I am not on the inside there but I look at a club that has won a title and FA Cup recently, been in another FA Cup final and finished second in the league. That’s not too shabby and I think it is harsh if the rumours are true about Mancini.’
On the Champions League (Everton were knocked out in the qualifying round by Villarreal in 2005)
‘The experience was incredible. I decided for the Champions League that we needed to do something different. We normally wore club suits but I wanted something else and felt it should be special. I got the boys blue blazers and cream slacks. The biggest mistake of my life! We lost but the referee on the night disallowed Duncan Ferguson’s header that should have taken us through. It was a goal!’
On the most talented players he’s worked with
‘Thomas Gravesen was an excellent player and he ended up at Real Madrid. Wayne Rooney is an incredible player. For us at Everton though, it has rarely been about individuals – it has been about team spirit and commitment with a sprinkle of quality. Tim Cahill came back for my final game yesterday and he was a great team player for me.’
On the legacy of Scottish managers
‘We developed everything, us Scots! I grew up looking up to Jock Stein. Sir Matt Busby was before my time, Bill Shankly was another – and they were great Scottish managers. Sir Alex Ferguson, of course. There has been a trend of brilliant Scottish leaders and managers.
‘Scottish football is renowned for its coaching courses and the managers it produces. There is a bit of Scottish grit in there, too. We have always been a nation that has had to fight back and it is ingrained into our personality. I hope I don’t lose that and change at all. It is a wonderful heritage.’
On the emotion of leaving Everton
‘Not many as a manager are given eleven years in charge. You need a good chairman, strong staff and brilliant supporters who will give you a chance. The sad thing is that I brought all these players together and it is hard to walk away from that.
‘All the players have been excellent and understand why I have to move on. Everton are back on track, competing in the top half and I can leave in the knowledge that I am leaving the club in a better shape than when I joined.’
‘I would be in favour of retrospective action on diving. We should look at the offences, though, and show up the divers.’
‘Over the last few years, we have closed the gap on Liverpool and finished above them – that is a big turnaround. There are very few managers who have the opportunity to be cheered off in your last game as manager – I have to thank everybody at Everton and the supporters for that – it showed real class. The atmosphere was incredible. I didn’t expect it. I have one more game to go, if we win then it will be our highest points total during my time there. Who knows, I may be back one day.’
On his potential successor as Everton manager
‘The chairman will make the decision and I do think that a few people within the club could easily step into the role. There are also candidates outside the club. That’s everybody!’ (laughs)
On refereeing standards
‘The refereeing job is very difficult but if you ask me truthfully, I think it has been a hard year for referees. I don’t think they have had the best season. Goal-line technology will help but only in a small way.
‘Each and every one of them tries to do their job fairly, honestly and with integrity. It has been a hard year for them and the scrutiny has been on the referees as much as the players. I actually think the referees don’t train often enough. I think they physically train every day but they don’t come together often enough to practice on their skills of being a referee. They come together once a fortnight, but for me, if you are a professional and full-time, you should come together more often and they should be invited into the clubs to educate the players, and particularly the young players.’
On Financial Fair Play
‘I think we are all still trying to come to terms with it. You now can only use a small amount of the television money on your wages. There is more emphasis on the club doing its job well in terms of the marketing and commercial side – selling more season tickets and corporate boxes. If you are a club that is good at that, FFP will help you.
‘If you are a smaller club, with poorer attendances, then it will affect you. It could make the rich richer and the poor poorer, increasing the gulf in the Premier League. It has been brought in with good intentions but we could end up concluding that it is restricting trading. For example, if you want to buy a football club and spend money, then it would be more difficult to do that now.’
On Scottish teams in the Premier League
‘My best experience for Celtic was playing against Juventus in the European Cup in Turin. That was incredible. We played against Ajax, in a team featuring Johan Cruyff and it was a fantastic team. We won and went through, that was my best memory. I didn’t play all the games but to be a part was great. Celtic is a fantastic football club and I learned more from those players and that dressing room than anywhere else in my career. Scottish football needs a strong Celtic and a strong Rangers – it is a shame what’s happened at Rangers.’
‘We developed everything, us Scots! I grew up looking up to Jock Stein. Sir Matt Busby was before my time, Bill Shankly was another – and they were great Scottish managers. Sir Alex Ferguson, of course. There has been a trend of brilliant Scottish leaders and managers.’
‘However, Scottish football is now bringing through young players and in the moment, it may not look good but I hope once these players develop, the future could be bright. I’d like to see Celtic and Rangers in the English Premier League. I used to say “It won’t be long till we’re down in England”. Both clubs would enhance English football with their fabulous support and brilliant stadiums.’
‘I followed Scotland everywhere when I was younger and still do now. We are a very proud nation. We don’t like anybody talking about us. At the moment, they are all having a good laugh at us. But we’ll rise again, don’t worry about that! I’m too young to manage my country at the moment. I’m ambitious to win trophies and be successful. In time maybe, if I got offered the job, I would think about it.’
On Callum McManaman (The star of Wigan’s FA Cup triumph who Everton released at the age of 16)
‘Since we let him go, Callum has had six years to go and develop. He played so well in the FA Cup Final and was rightly awarded Man Of The Match. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out and you get released. When you are young, released and you feel unwanted, it is so hard but you must persevere and hope that the day will come when you are picked up. Callum is the perfect example of that.’
On Duncan Ferguson
‘Duncan was an awesome centre forward. I played against him when he was at Dundee United as a youngster and eventually he was playing under me at Everton. We beat Manchester United 1-0 in 2005 and Duncan scored the goal and he was fantastic around that time.
‘Sir Alex used to say “Uch, not Duncan Ferguson again”. Duncan and I fell out at the end and he chose not to shake my hand when he left. The story goes that Duncan went away into exile for five years. We’d seen each other the odd time but there were no pleasantries.
‘I then got a phone call from him and he asked to come and see me. He walked in and said that he regretted every day for five years that he didn’t shake my hand so we made up. He is a changed man, works at Everton, day and night and has become a Pro License coach. I will always remember the change in the man: I have always admired the player but as a man he has turned himself around and is now fantastic.’
On German football
‘It was only a few years ago that two English teams were in the final in Moscow – Manchester United and Chelsea – and maybe the world was asking what we can learn from the English league. It changes and it is so hard to defend the Champions League.
‘The Germans have been the best teams this year. Their national team is fantastic, they continue to produce young players and the stadiums are fantastic. They keep the prices down and it is much easier for people to get to the games and afford the tickets. There is a lot to learn from that side of it but the British teams are very good still, even though it is the Germans’ year.’
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