Moyes was tipped as the favourite to take over from 71-year-old Ferguson after his announcement this morning that he would retire at the end of the season – this is when 50-year-old Moyes’ contract with the Toffees expires.

While Jose Mourinho’s name was bandied about, The Guardian reports he was “never be in the running for the job”.

The Portuguese is unbackable to return to Chelsea, provided Real Madrid let him go.

In expressing his disappointment at the loss of Ferguson as manager, United CEO David Gill said Fergie’s replacement will need the “requisite football experience in terms of domestic and European experience” and be willing to be involved in more than just the first team.

“The qualities are the ones that have been inherent in Manchester United for many years,” he told MUTV.

“If you look at what happened in our two most successful years, with Sir Matt Busby and then Sir Alex, we had managers there who sort of got involved with the whole aspects of the club, whether it be from the youth team aspects, up to the first team, all the aspects of it. And that degree of loyalty, understanding [that] the football club is not just what happens on the first-team pitch is crucial to the success of Manchester United.

“Clearly he’s got to have the requisite football experience in terms of domestic and European experience. It’s a small pool [of candidates] but we’ll move forward.”

Moyes and Everton have said nothing on the predicted move, but former United players support it.

Michael Owen Tweeted: “What an act to follow. I guess only Mourinho would have the confidence to strut through the door. If it were me, I’d go for Moyes.”

Legendary United keeper Peter Schmeichel told Sky Sports News: “What we are looking for is, not someone to come in 10 months or three years, we want someone to come stay there and give stability. When we talk about Moyes, he has been a decade at Everton and done a fantastic job on limited funds.”

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