Manchester United staff 'uneasy' ahead of Moyes' arrival

Both the former Everton boss and his new club have been at pains to portray his reign as a continuation of Sir Alex Ferguson's work but the prospect of change remains worrying
By Liam Twomey

Rio Ferdinand might be enjoying his summer safe in the knowledge he has at least one more year at Old Trafford, but many others at Manchester United do not have the same luxury.

For the backroom staff at Carrington in particular, the mood in the camp as they await the imminent arrival of David Moyes is best described as one of unease, with the new manager widely expected in-house to reshuffle the coaching staff with a view to bringing in his own men.

United could lose over 35 years' service
Mike Phelan - Twelve years' service
Eric Steele - five years' service
Rene Meulensteen - Eleven years' service
Warren Joyce - five years' service
Tony Strudwick - five years' service
And having visited Carrington less than 24 hours after the close of the 2012-13 season to personally introduce himself to everyone, from sports scientists to laundry ladies, Moyes is wasting little time in realising the current staff's worst fears.

Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson's right-hand man, has already gone. So too has goalkeeping coach Eric Steele. First-team coach Rene Meulensteen has been offered a reduced role, forcing him to consider his options – one of which is a return to the Netherlands.

It is precisely the cull Ferguson warned his staff of when he broke down announcing his retirement at Carrington. He knew big changes were afoot.

To replace them, United expect Moyes to bring in at least three new faces, although they have not discounted the possibility of many more.

Manchester United is not a club used to change. Of course, players and staff came and went over the past quarter of a century, but the overall picture was overseen and secured by the enduring figure of Ferguson. Now, while the future may be bright, for many it is also frighteningly uncertain.

Moyes was always likely to want to bring in his own men, but he is also taking steps to preserve United's culture of continuity.

Ferdinand's new contract represents just that ethos, while Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville are all in contention for a place on his new-look backroom team. Alongside those United stalwarts, though, ex-Norwich and QPR goalkeeper Chris Woods has been lined up to replace Steele.

A mix of the old and the new that will fit many outsiders' expectations. The ease with which Moyes has discarded years of loyal service on the coaching staff at Old Trafford already, though, only serves to underline and explain why so many of the Carrington staff feel at risk of being replaced by outsiders.

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Those with the biggest question marks hanging over them are Under-21 Premier League-winning boss Warren Joyce, and Tony Strudwick, United’s revered head of fitness and conditioning.

The man credited with helping Giggs become the club’s all-time leading appearance-maker, as well as getting Michael Carrick off the treatment table and back on the pitch, Strudwick is well-liked and immensely respected among the squad – so much so that their veneration for him was lampooned in the players' annual pantomime at a memorable Christmas party several years ago.

But while Moyes has moved quickly and impressively to tie down Ferdinand to a one-year extension which has required the 34-year-old to take a €47,000-a-week wage cut, he has been significantly less decisive when it comes to reassuring non-playing staff of their ongoing importance to the club.

And nor is the situation likely to improve anytime soon. The Scot is also currently mulling over the futures of unsettled squad members such as Nani and, of course, Wayne Rooney.

United, meanwhile, are preoccupied with finding a replacement for Martin Ferguson, Sir Alex's brother and the club's chief scout, who retires this summer. Their search will be exhaustive, and only candidates with a near-unrivalled knowledge of the European game will be considered.

Yet as the attentions of the new manager and the club’s hierarchy are diverted elsewhere, those who work tirelessly – and often anonymously – behind the scenes to maintain United's position of supremacy in English football will be left to wallow in uncertainty and fear.

Both Moyes and United have gone to great lengths to portray his reign as a continuation of Ferguson’s work. Recent events, however, underline that this will nonetheless be a time of great change at Old Trafford.

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