In the wake of Moyes’ appointment as Manchester United manager, PNE.Com speaks to Sean Gregan, Jon Macken and the North End fans.
As one Glaswegian passes the managerial torch on to another at Old Trafford, players, staff and fans alike at Deepdale are in reflective mood, reminiscing over where it all started for David Moyes.
Before taking over the reins as North End manager following the departure of Gary Peters back in 1998, Moyes helped steer the Club towards the old Third Division championship during the course of the 1995/96 season.
And with the hunger for more silverware now flowing through his veins, he went on to achieve even greater success as a manager, winning the Division Two title in 2000, before taking an almost identical squad to the Division One Play-Offs the following season, where the Lilywhites came within one game of the Premier League.
“You could see from an early age that he was built for management,” said fellow North End legend Sean Gregan when asked about Moyes and his time as Preston manager.
“No disrespect to David, he was wholehearted, but he wasn’t the best player in the world and he would be the first to admit that, but he was always talking to me and giving me advice and when he got the manager’s job he just stuck out a mile.
“You knew he was going to go on and do something big in the game.
“He is very, very good at getting the best out of the players that he has got.
“It was mainly Gary Peters’ team, Gary had bought all the players and Moyesy went and got, ten, 15, 20 per cent more out of the players and I think he has gone on and done that at Everton.
“I think he was ahead of his time, video analysis and sports psychologists and no stone unturned, his preparation for games was first class and he was all about how you conduct yourself away from the training ground and off the pitch and trying to get you to be a better person and I think that rubbed off on a lot of us.
“You could see early on at Preston that he got us playing and more or less had instant success and he then went on to Everton and the rest is history.
“He will have had job offers over the years but I think he has been sort of waiting for the United job.
“I think it is no secret that he had an interview for the number two job which went to Steve McClaren while he was at Preston and I think Sir Alex has watched him from afar and he is one of the longest serving manager’s in the Premier League.
“I think his time is right and he deserves his opportunity.
“He has got 11, 12 years’ experience in the Premier League, I remember when I was a player and he was the manager and I walked down to the front of the bus and he was sitting there with the Alex Ferguson autobiography open and he was highlighting pieces of it, so from then he was studying Sir Alex.”
Another man remembered fondly around Deepdale way is striker Jon Macken who made over 200 appearances for the Club and he echoes the sentiments of Gregan.
“He was a very strong character and a very strong personality on the pitch when he was playing,” added Macken.
“When he became manager he certainly knew what he wanted his players to do and the people around him to do and he was very focused.
“He had a goal in mind and he was successful in achieving that really.
“David first came into a job from playing, it was his first job and you could just tell straight away how hard he was working and how focused he was and how determined he was to success and how determined he was to help players to succeed, that is a big thing sometimes.
“Personally, he kind of mentored me which was a big thing, because when I left Preston I didn’t really have that anywhere else.
“There wasn’t many managers or coaches that tended to do that.
“Even when you are 30, you might be old in a professional sense but you still need help and you still need mentoring and there wasn’t many of them people like David Moyes who was willing to do that and push you along and really make you a better player.
“I suppose when you do play football, a lot of people tend to kind of leave it up to yourself rather than try to make you a better player which David did and that is why he was so focused and very successful I suppose.
“You knew straight away he was destined for a top job, like I said before, how focused he was and how determined he was to succeed and you knew straight away.
“His will to win was second to none really and if you didn’t perform he certainly let you know and when you was performing he also let you know about that.
“He wasn’t just one for screaming and shouting all the time, when you played well, he let you know that you played well, but he would let you know that in a way which made you want to go and play even better in the next game which I suppose is a fantastic trait to have as a manager.”
With Moyes facing the almost impossible mission of following in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson, many from the outside looking in could be forgiven for thinking that his lack of experience in a European arena could prove a stumbling block along with various other holes that will no doubt be picked at.
But the people who have worked with him and know him best see no other outcome other than the continuation of a successful time for the Red Devils.
Macken continued: “I think he will be very successful, I have said for a very long time now to people that he is more or less destined for the United job, he is suited for it perfectly and I have got no doubt that he will be very successful in it and will walk into it with the full backing of all the players and everyone who is there because I am sure he will get the respect in the first few days and weeks of them seeing how good he is and how determined and how focused he is on certain things,” with Gregan just as convinced as his former teammate.
“Generally, when you get a manager’s job the Club needs restructuring, but he is walking in to the English champions and will just take over the reins and I think he will be a success, “stated Gregan.
Meanwhile, North End fans have been contacting the Club to tell us about their highlights of the Moyes era at Deepdale.
On Twitter @ingolwhite said: “Turning round and saluting 7,000 travelling whites after a dramatic 1-0 win at Wigan,” as his highlight, while @pnemad went with” “Cambridge away peering in the dressing room seeing the players chuck him in the showers after winning promotion,” as his.
On Facebook, Ross Hunt went with: “ Going down to top of the league Bournemouth away not expecting anything, I was four, and I think we won 2-0, it was Moyes' first win, I don’t remember much of the match but my dad says that was turning point and from then on PNE never looked back.”
And Stuart Dagger chose: “Seeing the pride on his face as he walked out onto the ground at the Millennium Stadium. The pride was felt in each and every one of us that had the chance to experience it.”
But the undoubted highlight for the North End fans was that magical night at Deepdale against Birmingham City in the Play-Offs which culminated in a 4-2 win on penalties.
“That night against Birmingham!!”, summed it up perfectly for Stu Johnson on Facebook, while Ian Bamber said: “Got to be Play-Offs vs Birmingham when in last minute Birmingham hit the post, Preston storm up the field needing to score and Mark Rankine stabs the ball home to take it into extra time, I'll never forget it!”
And on Twitter @DClarkson93 said: “Play-Off semi v Birmingham! #rankine”, while @NigeKS went with: “Birmingham in the Play-Off semi-final at Deepdale in 2001. What a night. Mark Rankine!!!”
On behalf of everyone at Preston North End we would like to take this opportunity to wish David Moyes all the very best at Manchester United.