In Depth

Ferguson still the key figure in Man United's Game of Thrones

Former manager anointed Moyes, then approved his sacking... now he will help find replacement

Alex Ferguson, Bobby Charlton

DAVID MOYES is gone but in the wake of his Man United exit it is clear that the influence of Alex Ferguson, the man who appointed him, remains undiminished at Old Trafford. Ferguson, who ruled Manchester for 27 years, anointed Moyes as his successor when he stood down last summer, but it has now been reported that he was also one of the executioners who brought the axe down on the former Everton boss after just ten months in the role. Having watched from the directors box as his protege failed, Ferguson will now be handed a key role in deciding who gets the next bite of the cherry in United's own Game of Thrones. Fergie is said to have been part of the group, also including chief executive Ed Woodward, his predecessor David Gill, and United legend Bobby Charlton, that approved the removal of Moyes. "The news that Ferguson had given up on Moyes so early will shock United fans," says the Daily Mail. "It is understood Sir Alex had developed doubts about his successor as long as two months ago, realising he had made a big mistake." Moyes may have feared the worst, says The Times, as Ferguson's support had "begun to dissipate" as results failed to improve. "Moyes's calamitous reign... is an embarrassment for Ferguson, but it will not prevent the club from seeking his counsel again," adds the paper. There have been claims in some quarters that Ferguson will even have the right of veto over the next manager, but The Guardian plays down his role in picking a successor for Moyes, and says that Woodward and the Glazer family will have the final say. "Ferguson will, however, still be an influential voice because the club consider it would be foolish to discount him, even though there is now an acceptance at boardroom level that he made a serious error of judgment choosing Moyes last year when Jose Mourinho was available," it reports. The leading contenders now appear to be Louis Van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti after the BBC revealed that caretaker boss Ryan Giggs was not being considered for the full-time role. "United now privately accept it was a mistake bringing in someone with Moyes' inexperience and believe it is mandatory the next manager has worked at the highest level," explains the Guardian. Whoever takes over will have a job on their hands escaping from the shadow of Ferguson and returning the clubs to its former position at the summit of the Premier League. BBC pundit Robbie Savage claims that as many as 12 current players need to be cut adrift and £200m spent on replacements.

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