Did 'upset' Ferguson try to save Moyes from Man United exit?
Differing accounts of Fergie's role in the execution of Moyes, as Giggs rallies troops for Norwich
MANCHESTER UNITED kingmaker Alex Ferguson tried to save his protoge David Moyes from the Old Trafford chop and has described his sacking as "upsetting". Speaking at a charity lunch in Manchester on Thursday, and in his first public utterance on the affair, Ferguson was asked, during a question-and-answer session with his fellow diners, what he thought of Moyes' dismissal. "It's upsetting the way it came out," was all Ferguson would say on the matter, though according to a report in today's Sun he did his best to save Moyes.
Ferguson it was who advised the United board to appoint his fellow Scot his successor last summer and the Sun says he "stayed loyal to Moyes until the very end, pleading his case as the rest of the Manchester United board prepared to sack him".
Whether that was out of affection for Moyes or to save face given it was he who anointed the former Everton manager is a moot point. But Ferguson's pleas fell on deaf ears and Moyes was dismissed on Tuesday morning after the Glazer family, which owns the club, insisted "that a change had to be made in the Old Trafford hotseat".
While the Sun claims Moyes has "recognised" Ferguson's efforts to save his job, the Daily Mirror paints a different picture of the relationship between the pair. It says Moyes feels "let down" by a lack of support from Ferguson in the final few weeks of his reign at Old Trafford and that his predecessor "deliberately distanced himself from him" as the club lurched from one defeat to another and supporters became more vocal in their demands for change at the top.
The Mirror alleges that far from supporting Moyes until the bitter end, Ferguson's loyalty "ebbed away" as United's form disintegrated and it became apparent they would not qualify for next season's Champions League.
Whatever the truth of the final weeks of Moyes' ill-fated spell in charge of United, the reality is that, even as he celebrates his 51st birthday, the Scot is already being airbrushed out of the club's history. The Mirror notes that visitors who toured Old Trafford on Thursday spotted that the large banner proclaiming Moyes to be "The Chosen One" had been removed, while Moyes's message played to fans at the end of the stadium tour "has been hastily replaced by a talk from caretaker boss Ryan Giggs".
Meanwhile Nicky Butt, one of the assistants brought in by Giggs to help train the first-team squad for the rest of the season, has spoken of his pride in the role. Butt was one of United's famed Class of 1992 along with Giggs and fellow coaches Paul Scholes and Phil Neville, and has they now have the job of ensuring United finish the season strongly. "We're here to try to help the club and get the results we want from now until the end of the season," said Butt, who made nearly 400 appearances for the club between 1992 and 2004. "We've got some amazing players at this club, good lads who care about the club, who are really positive about United and want the best for the club."
United host Norwich on Saturday evening in Giggs's first game as caretaker manager and Butt says he's aware what a "massive occasion" that will be. "We've underachieved as a club this year. The players in that changing room know how good they are. They look round, look left and look right at the players next to them and know that they're very proud, hard-working lads. I'm sure we'll see that on Saturday."