Moyes recalls lessons learnt from the master

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The Independent Football

It is hardly a revelation that the manager of Manchester United for the past two decades boasts an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game but just how deep Sir Alex Ferguson's interest runs was illustrated by David Moyes yesterday, when the Everton manager revealed how they once argued over the price of a promising youth player at Preston North End.

Ferguson's fellow Glaswegian, who once resisted the offer to join the United manager as his assistant at Old Trafford, recalled: "I had just taken over at Preston and was preparing to take training before a game at Norwich when my phone went off in my pocket. It was Fergie, and he was raging at me because of a 14-year-old boy we had in our Academy. I'd heard he wanted the lad at Manchester United, but to be honest I'd put it in the distance and forgotten about it until he rang me to complain about the price we wanted.

"I didn't know the clubs had even opened talks, I wasn't up to date with the goings-on inside my own club, yet he knew everything about this boy at Preston. Of course, I then had a go at my staff for not informing me but that phone call made me realise how involved you have to be in every aspect of your club. He has always been knowledgeable about everything that's going on."

Ferguson's greatest adversary of the Premiership era, the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, acknowledged the 64-year-old's feat as unique in European football and admitted there is now respect between the pair after so many years, pre-Roman Abramovich, spent fighting for the title.

"I have seen half of those years from very close up," said Wenger. "When you think that the average life of a manager is one year and seven days, and somebody has done 20, it is remarkable consistency. It is a remarkable achievement, a unique one. A unique one in Europe at the top level. No one could say the opposite. It needs tremendous motivation, tremendous stamina, and he has done that."

The Arsenal manager added: "With us two it was more about competitiveness than composure. We have had some heated times, but time will settle things and there is a respect there now."