Questions over Wayne Rooney pushed David Moyes in a way Sir Alex Ferguson never was, but the new Manchester United manager stood up to them

The new man settles in with a quip, a Freudian slip and a tribute to his peerless predecessor

David Moyes was 16 words into his press conference when his predecessor’s name cropped up but it didn’t feel like an old man’s imposition. Moyes instead embarked on an anecdote imbued with the kind of small detail which made it one destined to become another small part of the storied history of this club; of how Ferguson had telephoned to ask him around to his Wilmslow home – ostensibly, as Moyes imagined it, to ask if he could pinch one of his players.

“And I was expecting him to say he was going to take one of my players,” Moyes said. “I wasn’t sure what he was going to say to me. I went in and the first thing he said to me was that he was retiring. And I said “Yes? When?” - because he was never retiring was he? And he says: ‘Next week.’ And his next words were: ‘And you are the next Manchester United manager…’ I didn’t get a chance to say yes or no I was told I was the next Manchester United manager by Sir Alex and for me that was enough. As you can imagine the blood drained from my face.”

The details of the anointment might sound like the words of a man who is in his predecessor’s thrall but Moyes looked his own man: not entirely free of nerves and not entirely word perfect. It was during the immeasurably tricky task of suggesting that all was rosy with Wayne Rooney whilst unable to confirm that the striker wanted to stay that Moyes described the ‘chink’ in Rooney’s eye in training, correcting himself to ‘glint.’ (A Freudian one, that: he chink of money will be the decider where Rooney’s future is concerned.)

All the sponsor references were rehearsed and duly delivered - the Aon Training Complex, which grates a bit, got several airings from the manager – and there was an immediate sense that this man has been drawn into the history. Sir Bobby Charlton’s arrival to see him at Carrington had thrilled him most of all. But this was a man comfortable in his own clothes – his own grey suit, not a jacket emblazoned with the crest across which, as Moyes put it, “success is tattooed.”

An elegant line that one, pre-prepared maybe but not obviously so, by an individual in enough control of his own proceedings to draw a very smart line under the Rooney issue when there had been one last attempt to nail him. “Has he categorically said ‘I don't want to leave’?” Moyes was asked. "I can tell you categorically that Wayne Rooney is training fantastically well. That's all I can categorically tell you,” he replied. Touche.

We were into waters which would never have been entered with Ferguson - a fifth Rooney question at a time when the conference had been discreetly told that the issue had been taken far enough. When Ferguson was pressed on the same subject in a press theatre 100 yards away in October 2010 he fired back with anger and then emotion.

You sensed that Moyes really did not want a fuss. A 4pm Friday press conference is a graveyard time and there were certainly empty seats in the house for what was introduced as United’s “the first new manager press conference Manchester United has held in 26 years.” And he didn’t make pretences about the task in hand. Asked was there a single piece of advice that Ferguson conveyed, Moyes simply related how the 71-year-old how “within half an hour” of that meeting “was talking about the squad and the players and the staff and it was a period for me.. I couldn’t believe it….” Because what advice can a United manager give another about how it will really when the talk has finished and the games start: Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City among the first five, in a four week spell. “I’m not convinced that’s the way the balls have come out of the hat when that was being done. I’ve never seen Man Utd get a tougher start in any Premier League season,” he remarked.

“Yes,” Moyes replied, to the question of whether he was feeling excitement or trepidation. Yes, “I’m inexperienced” he said when  his absence from all but the qualifiers of the Champions League was raised. He’d called Ferguson three or four times for advice already. “I hope he is sitting in the directors’ box.”

The presence of the man who has made him king is a mild challenge in the context of the enormous months ahead. “He is always going to be here,” Moyes said of Ferguson. “But hopefully the supporters now realise it was his time to finish and that somebody else has to come in?” It will be “impossible to do what Ferguson has done, Moyes admitted: “To manage at this level for 26 years and have his success. I don't think there will be any other manager that does that. All I can do is do what David Moyes has done before. I have to in my own way put my own stamp on the club.”

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on