MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Everton confirmed Thursday that manager David Moyes is leaving the club at the end of the season and wants to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
While United has not yet made an announcement on who will succeed Ferguson at Old Trafford, the statement from Everton clears the way for Moyes to be hired. Moyes' contract with Everton expires at the end of this season, and Everton said he won't be renewing the deal.
"The manager met chairman Bill Kenwright early yesterday evening and confirmed his desire to join Manchester United," Everton said in a statement.
Everton, which has two games left under Moyes, has already started the search for a replacement.
Moyes, despite never winning a major trophy in his coaching career, will be a hard act to follow at Goodison Park, having impressed by keeping Everton near the top of the standings on a modest budget.
The 50-year-old Moyes has shown loyalty and staying power in his 11 years with Everton — attributes that should go down well at United which is trying to maintain stability at the club an avoid any radical changes to the structure after Ferguson steps up to the boardroom when the season ends.
Moyes' arrival would help to ensure a smooth transition between Glaswegian managers, with Ferguson previously appearing to anoint the three-time manager of the year as his successor.
The former Celtic player made the transition into management at Preston North End in 1998 and gained promotion to the League Championship two years later.
He moved to Everton in 2002 and turned the Merseyside club from a relegation contender into a regular qualifier for Europe. In 2005, he even guided the club into the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
Ferociously ambitious with a keen eye for emerging talent, Moyes has maintained Everton as a force near the top of the Premier League despite struggling with a lack of cash to invest in the squad.
That's why, according to Ferguson, Moyes should not be judged on his inability to turn Everton into a force in England or Europe.
"David has had to contend with not having a strong financial structure," Ferguson said last year. "He has to get the best out of the players he has had available."
Ferguson has been a source of inspiration to Moyes as well.
"I look upon Sir Alex, I suppose, as a role model, but mainly I look at him and wonder, 'How can you have stayed in this job so long,'" Moyes has said.
The simple task for Ferguson's successor, according to former United captain Gary Neville, is to "play attractive football, bring young players through and win a championship."
As such, Neville believes the potential hiring of Moyes as United's 20th manager "makes sense."
"They want someone to respect the history and tradition of the club, someone who is there for the long-term," Neville said. "The club does not go for quick-fixes."
But Wall Street investors could be spooked by the appointment of Moyes, whose modest achievements contrast with those of Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who was linked with the United job but has long been a lightning rod for controversy.
Before United was listed on the NYSE last year, the club warned that Ferguson's successor "may not be as successful as our current manager" and could "adversely affect our ability to attract and retain coaches and players."
It won't take long for United to discover if that is the case.
Even before Ferguson announced his retirement plans, striker Wayne Rooney told the manager in recent weeks that he wanted to seek a fresh challenge away from the club, a person familiar with the situation said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm British media reports because he was not authorized to discuss the talks publicly.
If the 27-year-old Rooney was to stay at United he is likely to be reunited with Moyes for the first time since his acrimonious departure from Everton in 2004.
Rooney's United future has been clouded in uncertainty since Robin van Persie was signed from Arsenal last year, and he was left out of the starting line-up for the second leg of the Champions League loss to Real Madrid in March.
But with two years remaining on the player's contract, United issued a statement late Wednesday to stress: "Rooney is not for sale."