MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Embarking on the daunting task of replacing Alex Ferguson in the Manchester United dugout, David Moyes said he won't be intimidated by the presence of his illustrious predecessor at Old Trafford.
Far from dreading replacing Ferguson, Moyes is starting out at United knowing he will never be able to match the achievements of British football's most successful manager. "Impossible," Moyes said Friday. "To manage at this level for 26 years, and have his success, I don't think there will be any other manager that does for 26 years at a club like Manchester United at this level (again)."
Between 1986 and 2013, Ferguson won 13 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, the Champions League twice, the European Cup Winners' Cup, the European Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.
The 50-year-old Moyes arrives at United having never won a major trophy as a manager, although during 11 years at Everton he impressed on a comparatively meager budget. "I've come to a club where success is tattooed across badge — this club is about winning trophies and I've come to continue that," Moyes said as he faced reporters for the first time as United manager.
"I'm determined to try to get the first one on the board. I am inexperienced in a lot of those things, some brilliant managers who could have taken this role." Rather than hiring a heavyweight like Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, United replaced the 71-year-old Ferguson with a younger version cut from the same Glaswegian cloth.
How Moyes replaced Ferguson is intriguing: there was no interview by the owning Glazer family, and the job was presented to him as a done deal in late April. "I knew nothing at all until Sir Alex gave me a call and asked me to come to his house," Moyes recalled. "I was expecting him to say he was going to take one of my players. 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?' ... 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."
Sitting inside Ferguson's home, south of Manchester, Moyes remembers the "blood drained from my face." "I was really shocked, more shocked that Sir Alex had chosen to retire," Moyes said. "But inside I was incredibly thrilled that I was going to get the opportunity to manage Manchester United."
Ferguson will remain at United as a director, and Moyes is happy for his fellow Scotsman to watch over him at matches. "I hope he is sitting in the directors' box because he has been so good," Moyes said when asked if he would be intimidated by Ferguson's continued presence. "I have already called him two or three times for some advice ... he's not there to pressure me."
The former Celtic defender will be hoping he lasts longer the manager who replaced Matt Busby after his 24-year reign ended in 1969. Wilf McGuinness was out by December of his first season in charge, with Busby returning from the directors' box to the dugout for the rest of the campaign.
Clubs showing managers patience still isn't a trait at clubs. "It is something that should happen throughout football," Moyes said. "There are a lot of managers getting sacked very quickly." Moyes is reassured by the fact Ferguson retained the United job, to achieve his unparalleled success, despite taking until 1990 to collect his first title — the FA Cup.
"He had some hard years initially, but he has left me a really strong team which I think gives me a great chance of retaining the title," Moyes said. "Sir Alex will never go away. You can see his stand, you can see his statute. He is always going to be here. And I've got to say, he's someone I will use for advice. But hopefully the supporters now realize it was his time to finish and that somebody else has to come in."
Moyes' first job is ensuring the dressing room copes with the unexpected managerial change. "The big thing for me has been the players and they have responded well," he said. While Ferguson's reign was defined not only by trophies but also his combative approach to the media, Moyes showed no sign of irritation on Friday.
Not even when fielding repeated questions about Wayne Rooney's future. The striker told Ferguson towards the end of last season that he wanted to leave, but Moyes said he won't be granted a transfer. "(Ferguson) said to me you have got a very, very good player ... a good player who over recent seasons has been a big player, made a big impact in games, scored a lot of goals," Moyes said.
Moyes sidestepped questions about possible transfer targets, including Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been linked with a return to United. "This club will always go for the best players ... and a big part of my job is to bring through the young players from the academy," Moyes said. "I think we tried to do that as well as we possibly could at Everton, introduce young players to the team. And it is sort of in the DNA here."
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris