•Moyes speaks to chief sports reporter Matt Lawton in his first interview since his sacking by Manchester United on April 22
•The Scot lasted 10 months at Old Trafford after a successful 11-year spell in charge at Everton
•Moyes accepts that following Sir Alex Ferguson was ‘near enough the impossible job’
•He has spoken to Ferguson and accepts that his predecessor was in a tough position
•Moyes admits he wanted to sign Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo
•The 51-year-old is keen to find the right job, whether it be in England or abroad
In a distant corner of Manchester United’s training ground a lone figure is running. It is 4am, pitch black, the silence broken only by the sound of his breathing and his footsteps on the perfectly tended grass.
David Moyes is in the dark but he knows what is coming. Nobody from what is supposed to be the world’s greatest football club has told him. But he knows, as he circles the perimeter of Carrington’s pitches one last time, that it is over; knows that in a few hours his players will be training here but he will be gone, no longer their manager.
He knows because the story broke on a number of websites the day before. He didn’t believe it at first. Indeed, when I spoke to him within an hour of the story appearing, he was incredulous. ‘There’s no way you guys would know before me,’ he said in the first of two conversations we had that day. ‘This is Manchester United we’re talking about.’
Moyes was not being naive. Nobody could ever accuse this streetwise Glaswegian of that. But even after a crushing defeat at Everton two days earlier, he was struggling to come to terms with the fact it was ending like this; struggling to believe, having given up the stability he had enjoyed for 11 successful years at Goodison Park, that within barely 10 months his new employers would allow him to be utterly humiliated.
By the time he went to bed on that Easter Monday, he knew he had been. For a start people had not been answering their phones, and when he finally did make contact with Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman would only say that he would meet him at Carrington at 8am.
Moyes had no intention of driving in at that time — not when the cameras would be waiting. So he got there four hours early, went for a run, took a shower and then, alone in an empty, eerie building, began to clear his desk. ‘I hadn’t slept a wink,’ he says. ‘But the run gave me a chance to clear my head. A bit of time to think before I started to pack up my stuff.’
He has done an awful lot of thinking since April 22, and now he is reflecting on his brief but difficult tenure in the first interview he has given since his brutal dismissal. Foremost in his mind is a desire to communicate how determined he is to return to work. His powers have not been diminished, he insists. On the contrary, he feels the next club to employ him will be hiring a David Moyes more focused and determined than ever.
But he will be choosing his next job very carefully, and understandably so. ‘I would never have left a job,’ he says before pausing. ‘The job at Everton was so good. I worked for a great chairman, great people at the club.
‘It was not easy to begin with at Everton either. We had a couple of tough years before we had the club the way we wanted it. But the reason I went to United was because I thought I was joining a club that would give me time. That was the big thing. I didn’t want to change anything immediately. I wanted to take my time working out what I thought was needed.
‘I saw what I thought were important similarities between United and Everton. Like the focus on developing young players. Look at the players we brought through at Everton. As well as the ones we brought in. You go back to Wayne Rooney and all the other lads. Ross Barkley, Pienaar, Coleman, Jagielka, Baines and Lescott. We signed John Stones. We had a really good club at Everton who gave me the opportunity to do the job the way I felt it needed to be done.’
By accident I met Moyes in London the night he got the United job. He had travelled down to complete the formalities with Bill Kenwright, the Everton chairman he admired so much. Moyes was with his brother and adviser, Kenny, and was clearly excited by the prospect of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson. It was the job he had always craved.
Now, however, he accepts that following the finest British manager in history was no easy task. ‘It was a step into the unknown and, looking back now, it was near enough the impossible job,’ he says. ‘But it was the right job for me. I’d been at Everton for more than 11 years. We’d qualified for the Champions League, got to an FA Cup final, I’d been voted manager of the season three times. I was among the most experienced managers in the Premier League. United had always had British managers.
‘I was devastated to lose the job because it was something I felt I could make a real success of. We knew it was going to take time to make the necessary changes. It was going to take time to evolve. But we were in the process of making other important changes. In the end, I don’t feel I was given time to succeed or fail.’