LONDON (AP) — It was when he was alone for the first time in the office vacated by Alex Ferguson that the magnitude of the daunting — but exhilarating — job became apparent to David Moyes.
Manchester United had a new manager for the first time since 1986, and the domain where Ferguson had presided over years of supremacy now belonged to Moyes.
"Sitting in the chair for the first time felt odd," Moyes recalled ahead of the champions' Premier League opener at Swansea on Saturday. "With nobody looking, I thought I would have to see how it feels in case anybody thought I looked stupid."
After 11 years at Everton, Moyes is still feeling his way into the United job and trying to prove a worthy successor to the greatest of British managers.
"I still go into the office and feel Sir Alex is still here," Moyes said. "And he will be."
Ferguson handpicked Moyes as his successor, calling the Everton manager to his house in April to let him in on the secret that he was retiring at the end of the season — and telling Moyes that he would be the new United manager. The succession began officially after United eased to a record-extending 20th English title.
As a manager who won 38 titles inside 27 years, the 71-year-old Ferguson became the face and symbol of the modern United, and escaping his shadow will be hard.
"It might take me 18 months to two years to get things changed around," Moyes said.
The 50-year-old Scotsman will continue to tap into the wisdom of his compatriot, who is swapping the dressing room for the boardroom at Old Trafford.
"I went to see him at home the other day, he was great," Moyes said. "He is recovering from his hip operation. I will use him for advice. He will be a great mentor."
He could also still play a part in shaping the team.
Moyes' biggest challenge since his first official day in Ferguson's office on July 1 has been strengthening the squad before the Sept. 2 transfer deadline. But the headline-grabbing signings have not transpired despite the club having pursued Barcelona midfielders Cesc Fabregas, who committed his future to the Spanish champions, and Thiago Alcantara, who chose Bayern Munich instead.
In the future, Moyes said could turn to Ferguson to help push deals over the line, using his standing in the game to reinforce the allure of United to hesitant transfer targets.
"This club has ways and means of attracting the top players to the club," Moyes said. "And if we needed to use Sir Alex he would be more than happy to help."
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