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Phil Jones Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson

Why I'm happy David Moyes will now lead the Manchester United brand - Phil Jones

By Phil Jones

May 13, 2013 | 7 min read

Yesterday, Old Trafford said goodbye to a legend in the form of its manager Sir Alex Ferguson who oversaw his last match in charge of the club at home during yesterday’s victory over Swansea. But his departure has already dented the influence of one of the world’s most celebrated football brands according to some reports, with his successor David Moyes not anything near as successful. Die-hard Man Utd fan Phil Jones (the founder of Digital Podge and chairman of the Dadi Awards, not the current Man Utd defender) discusses why Moyes can be a success on-and-off the pitch for his new club.

Phil Jones with hero and Manchester United legend Denis Law

I am really happy Man U chose Moyes over Mourhino. Why?

It’s a personal thing really. I loved watching yesterday’s FA Cup Final watching Callum McManaman running rings around Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City’s player of the year. Callum joined Wigan from Blackpool and terrorised the Man City defence for 90 minutes and lit up Wembley. Watching his 77 year old Wigan raised chairman jumping up in the air was a joy for all the neutrals and I am sure even some of the City fans were chuffed for the underdogs.

I grew up on a North Manchester council estate that was pretty evenly split between reds and blues. Man U were managed by Sir Matt Busby (although he wasn’t a sir then) and the blue half of Manchester by Joe Mercer and a talented gobby coach named Malcolm Allison. My heroes were Denis Law, Georgie Best and Bobby Charlton and my dad was more of a Francis Lee, Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee fan, but we both loved being involved in watching great derby matches full of passion and the odd rough and tumble between the likes of Crerand and Doyle or Nobby Stiles and anybody who tried to get past him. My regular spot was behind the goal in the Stretford End and capacity was 63,000 and it was mainly standing in those days. In the sixties it was even stevens and great to watch either team with so many entertainers on display.

So this brings me to my choice of Moyes over Mourhino (weirdly an anagram of moyes and mourhino is “Inhumane or sodomy”). I need to whizz back the clock to 1968 and I was behind the goal at Wembley and Manchester United were lined up against a Benfica team that included the amazing Eusebio and the lanky Torres and they looked awesome. My hero Denis Law was out of the United team through injury and watching the match from his hospital bed. We fielded Stepney, Brennan, Foulkes, Sadler, Dunne, Crerand, Charlton, Stiles, Best, Kidd and surprise man of the match Johnny Aston. 2 irishmen, one scot and eight Englishmen. But more importantly for me two of those Englishmen lived within a few miles of where I lived and were local heroes. One of them, Brian Kidd was celebrating his 19th birthday that day and I was 18 and behind the goal where he scored and that was ME scoring that goal. The other local lad, Nobby Stiles was famous for running around Wembley holding the World Cup two years earlier with no front teeth and his socks rolled down around his ankles.

So here’s my point. I served a 5 year apprenticeship in the sixties typesetting and printing the Manchester United football programmes and I got great pleasure out of knowing who was in the A team, the reserves and of course the first team. Watching some of the names in the reserves suddenly break through and become great players and there was a genuine excitement and always the feeling that there was a progression path through the club’s junior teams into the first team. Alex Ferguson had the same mentality as Sir Matt Busby and despite having the funds to buy world class players like Ronaldo, Van Nistleroy, Van Persie etc much of the success in the premiership years has come through an amazing pipeline of passionate local boys who grew up together and understood the mentality and traditions of the club. Giggs was playing for Salford Boys, Scholes grew up on my council estate Langley, Gary and Phil Neville were two miles up the road from Bury, and Nicky Butt in Gorton and so on and so on. And for many of those years Brian Kidd was the local boy turned coach and now does the same job at Man City, and still only one year older than me.

The feeling I get when I see a team that has a good selection of home grown talent amongst the squad is vastly different to seeing a team sheet full of world famous foreign stars whose names I can’t pronounce. I also love to see footballers having a bit of a smile on their face when playing and watching the Wigan boys turn over City yesterday kept me smiling all day.

For a club the size of Manchester United to give a six year contract to David Moyes is staggering but I genuinely think that Sir Alex has seen in him somebody that will continue to nurture the pipeline of talent that has made the team the most successful ever. Manchester United have won the youth cup 10 times, more than any other club. Sir Matt managed the club from the 1940s, 50s and 60s and Sir Alex managed it for 27 years and in between despite being relegated to the second division I still wanted to pay good money to watch Tommy Docherty bring Buchan, McIlroy, Coppell, Greenhoff, Macari, Hill, Pearson out every week to entertain and bring smiles to our faces. We were a cup team in those days rather than a league winning team but I would personally pay more to watch a team like that run out than some of the top premiership league teams today.

I have no idea whether Moyes will be a success, but I truly LOVE the fact that he is being given his chance and if the fans get behind him he could bring us more of the same in the years to come. In the meantime today it’s all about saying goodbye to the great man himself against Swansea where the mood at Old Trafford was amazing.

Phil Jones Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson

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