When Sir Alex Ferguson brought the curtain down on his glorious 26 year reign at Old Trafford, a new era for the club beckoned. The appointment of David Moyes promised departures aplenty and in that regard, it is hardly surprising to see a complete revamp of the coaching staff of the club.
Assistant Mike Phelan, goalkeeping coach Eric Steele and chief scout Martin Ferguson have already left the club despite Moyes not officially taking up his position until July and first-team coach Rene Meulensteen looks set to be on his way out soon too.
In some ways, it is good to see the 50-year-old implementing change at the club. He needs to create an environment he is comfortable working in and if he didn’t make any changes, he wouldn’t be able to stamp his own identity on the team.
Steve Round is looking likely to take up the position of assistant manager and he worked under Steve McLaren during his spells at Middlesborough and England prior to becoming Moyes assistant in 2008. Meanwhile, Chris Woods and Robbie Cooke are expected to be named as goalkeeping coaches and chief scout respectively.
Although it is sad to see Ferguson’s era truly over, those changes were expected but most fans had hoped that the highly rated first-team coach Rene Meulensteen would remain at the club with many feeling that the Dutchman could provide some continuity during a period of instability.
But rumours have been fired around this week that Phil Neville is set to take up the position of first team coach following Meulensteen’s expected departure amid links to the managers post at FC Twente.
Phil made nearly 400 appearances as a player for United before leaving the club for Everton in 2004 and he went on to become a firm favourite in Merseyside as club captain and stalwart under Moyes. The Scotsman obviously trusts Neville greatly with the experienced 37-year-old apparently recommended by Moyes as the man to replace him at the helm at Goodison Park. Neville has also worked with the England U21 setup and holds a UEFA ‘B’ license but from a coaching point of view, he is still relatively inexperienced.
Reaction from the fans has been mixed given Meulensteen’s brilliant work at the club over the past 12 years but it has been reported that the club only wants to offer him a position back with the youth teams, so his desire to move onto pastures new is understandable.
Neville, while being a greenhorn is a close confidant of Moyes and is certainly a promising prospect from a coaching point of view. The fact that he knows the club inside out must also be seen as a major plus point too. He understands what is expected of the players and it would help him if he were to take up the role. Let’s just hope that Neville won’t be teaching the lads step overs if he is offered the position.
Moyes obviously wants to put a stamp on the club and by removing any remnants of the previous regime, he is surrounding himself with people he can trust and works well with. It is incredible that many see this as such a huge problem when in fact the great Sir Alex Ferguson did similar when he took up the post as manager in 1986.
Change breeds change and as it turned out, Ferguson’s widespread changes all those years ago ended up being a little bit alright didn’t they?