David Moyes, Manchester United's new manager, has been quick to make his mark on the club's coaching infrastructure (Image | Sky)

David Moyes, Manchester United’s new manager, has been quick to make his mark on the club’s coaching infrastructure (Image | Sky)

As a Manchester United supporter, I was entirely pleased (and not surprised) when David Moyes was appointed the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson. What came as more of a surprise, however, was the subsequent overhaul of the Old Trafford coaching staff.

It is inevitable that any manager arriving at a new club will want to make their mark. Almost invariably, this involves bringing in one or two familiar members of staff. At United, however, the experience and authority of the likes of Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen, Eric Steele and Martin Ferguson presented Moyes with a very difficult decision.

Some of the staffing changes are logical. Chief scout Ferguson, Sir Alex’s brother, may long have planned to step down at the same time as his younger sibling; as Manchester United’s assistant manager of five years and coach since the turn of the century, Phelan may have seen this as the right time to move on, too.

Moyes’ desire to add familiar faces is equally logical. His most trusted lieutenants – assistant Steve Round, coach Jimmy Lumsden and goalkeeping coach Chris Woods – will be following Moyes to Old Trafford. Entering one of the most pressurised atmospheres in world sport, and with almost unprecedented expectation sure to be on his shoulders this season, Moyes will need some friendly faces around the dressing room.

Steve Round (left) and Jimmy Lumsden, who have worked with Moyes at Everton, will join him in Manchester (Image | Mirror)

Steve Round (left) and Jimmy Lumsden, who have worked with Moyes at Everton, will join him in Manchester (Image | Mirror)

But the exits of goalkeeping coach Steele and first-team coach Meulensteen are a little more concerning. A hugely respected and much coveted young coach, Dutchman Meulensteen has risen rapidly through the ranks to the mark of first-team coach. Now, after an unexplained departure, he’s off to work as Guus Hiddink’s assistant at rich Russians Anzhi Makhachkala, Steele, who has done so much over the past couple of years to develop the mentally fragile David De Gea, also departs at an awkward time.

Amid all this upheaval, then, undoubtedly the smartest of the new additions to Manchester United’s coaching team are the additions of Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville.

Giggs, who signed a one-year contract extension after the end of last season to take him into a remarkable 23rd year of professional football at United, has agreed to become a player-coach and will bring Moyes a coach with that all-important inside knowledge of the squad. Giggs has been there to greet every one of his current team-mates; he’ll know their personalities, likes and dislikes, and how Sir Alex made them tick.

Neville, Moyes’ captain at Everton since January 2007, bridges the gap between new regime and old. In a decade as the ultimate utility man in defence and midfield for the Red Devils, the versatile Neville won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the Champions’ League. It’s hard to believe that Neville left Manchester eight years ago, but in that time, he’s become a trusted colleague to another Scottish manager.

After fifteen years in youth and senior teams together at Old Trafford, Giggs and Neville are together again (Image | Daily Mail)

After fifteen years in youth and senior teams together at Old Trafford, Giggs and Neville are together again (Image | Daily Mail)

Both men, of course, are relatively untried as coaches. Neville travelled with Stuart Pearce’s England under-21s this summer – how much benefit he got from that train-wreck is up for debate – and it’s no secret that Giggs has been studying for his UEFA Pro License, which he is on track to complete within the next season.

Coaching, of course, is not the only part of the pair’s new roles. Giggs and Neville are idols for the club’s young stars in the making, and pastoral and advisory duties are bound to take up at least part of their time. Then there will be the media work – Giggs and Neville are two of the highest-profile coaches in the Premier League, and the transition from player in the media spotlight to coach in the backroom will not come instantly.

Moyes is building a new vision of longevity at Old Trafford, and the other noticeable part of his coaching appointments are the ages of the men coming in. Apart from Lumsden, the 65-year-old who has been with Moyes since his first day as Preston manager in 1998, the rest of the staff are all younger than their predecessors. Moyes is 50, Woods 53, Round 42, Neville and Giggs under 40.

It is unlikely the Premier League will ever see another manager hold down their job for over a quarter of a century. Moyes is just focusing for now on putting down some solid roots to begin with.

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