Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The distance between New York City and Manchester, United Kingdom is approximately 3,337 miles. For two members of the New York Red Bulls, the news of Sir Alex Ferguson stepping down as Manchester United boss and David Moyes replacing him hits just as close to home as if they were at the epicenter.
Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill and club Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh both took time to talk about their reaction to the news and relationships with David Moyes, and Sir Alex Ferguson, respectively.
“Well I’m shocked, it’s been a lifestyle for (Ferguson), I’m sure he won’t stop his involvement in football, he just won’t take the reins of the first team,” Roxburgh told the New York Red Bulls on Thursday.
Cahill and Moyes were together for eight seasons at Everton, while Roxburgh and Ferguson played together in the youth system and professionally at Falkirk, and then continued a working relationship when Roxburgh was Scotland manager and UEFA Technical Director.
“I’m so happy for him, his family, I think for the whole of what he’s done in football in general, he deserves it,” Cahill said to the New York Red Bulls about Moyes.
“It’s amazing, he’s done so much in the game, to be rewarded, to have the opportunity for the start of his journey to go to one of the biggest clubs in the world and try and do something special, and continuing their level of success is the mark of the man he is and how much they respect him as a football manager.
“I’m a bit shocked, because it’s one of the biggest jobs in the world,” Cahill added.
Having known him personally for a long time, Roxburgh recounted how Ferguson changed the landscape of soccer in Europe during his time at United.
“It’s certainly the end of an era,” said the Glasgow, Scotland native Roxburgh. “I’ve known him for all of these years, he’s a top top level coach, and over the last 20 years he has been one of the reasons the Champions League has become the best competition on the planet.
“He has been fantastic at handling players. You just look what he has done with rebuilding team after team in Manchester. What some people forget is he was already performing before he even got there, because with Aberdeen he made the final of the cup winners cup, beating Real Madrid to get there.”
For Cahill, his former manager was more than just the man that ran training and chose the starting eleven each week.
“I think to players to the fans, he epitomizes the club [Everton],” the Sydney, Australia native said. “I don’t think there’s a time that he didn’t treat any player like a son, and the fans like his friends. He was so approachable, had time for everyone, made time for anyone, and it (mattered) so much to him that his job was a six-to-nine job.
“My relationship (with him) was like a father figure, it wasn’t someone that always needed to praise you, but got the best out of you on and off the park. Always concerned with the welfare of my family, the welfare of my livelihood, and also my football.”
Roxburgh recalled how at the most recent Champions League meetings, with many of the managers of clubs taking part in the competition in attendance, how much they viewed Ferguson as a leader.
“He was viewed by everybody as the leader of the coaches in Europe,” Roxburgh said. “He’s just been an incredible example for top-level coaching, not only in Scotland, in England, but in Europe and over the World.
“(Ferguson) is a role model for top-level coaching, and it will be very difficult for someone to replace him.”
Cahill isn’t under the illusion that it will be a walk in the park for Moyes at United, but to to the Red Bulls midfielder, Moyes was the perfect choice for the job.
“You look at any other manager in the world who is suited for the job,” Cahill commented. “I think other than Pep Guardiola, there’s only one man on the list and that’s David Moyes, (who) would suit a club like Manchester United.”