Everton midfielder Leon Osman has revealed that David Moyes did not expect to get the Manchester United job, and called for Toffees fans to forgive their former manager for trying to sign a number of his old players at Goodison Park.
The Express carries quotes from the 33-year-old's book 'Ossie: My Autobiography' which detailed the day senior members of the Merseyside club's squad were informed of the Scot's imminent departure to Old Trafford.
Moyes ended his 11-year spell at Everton in May 2013 to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as Red Devils boss, but lasted just ten months in the job before being sacked in April this year.
"Moyesy looked us straight in the eyes and told us he hadn't expected the offer."
Osman plays down accusations levelled at his ex-coach that he had intentionally run down his Everton contract because he'd already been made aware of Ferguson's planned exit at the end of the 2012/13 campaign, insisting that he believed Moyes when he stated the job offer had taken him by surprise.
"As the season carried on, David Moyes' contract was running down," he explained, with quotes originally published in the Liverpool Echo. "The talk was that he could well be off at the end of it. Other people were saying he was doing it to try to coax some transfer funds.
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"Eventually, with just two games remaining in the season, it was announced that he had been offered the Man United job, replacing the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson.
"After it was confirmed, Moyes called six of the senior players to meet him in the Thistle Hotel in Haydock – myself, Nev [Phil Neville], Jags [Phil Jagielka], Hibbo [Tony Hibbert], Bainesy [Leighton Baines] and Tim Howard.
"We all congratulated him and told him he had earned a move like that for all his effort and what he'd done for the club. He sat us down and told us it wasn't planned but that he'd received a phone call from Sir Alex, who asked to meet him and then told him he wanted him to be the next manager of Man United.
"Moyesy looked us straight in the eyes and told us he hadn't expected the offer. I absolutely believe what he told us."
No going back
Unfortunately for the 51-year-old his ill-fated spell lasted less than a year, before Manchester United officials opted to sack Moyes as a result of the club's disappointing Premier League form.
Ryan Giggs was placed in interim charge for the remainder of the previous campaign, which ended with the Red Devils recording a lowest ever seventh place finish, and with it failure to qualify for Europe the following season.
Louis van Gaal was the next man tasked with restoring the glory days, arriving in Manchester after guiding the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
However, despite the huge wave of renewed optimism that fuelled Manchester United supporters' lofty expectations again in pre-season, 2014/15 has proved to be just as difficult, with the club currently ranked eighth in the table with 13 points from the opening nine games, having recorded just three victories.
"I genuinely don't believe he had United on his mind."
Their struggles have at least helped restore Moyes's reputation a little, despite the fact he remains out of the game, waiting for his next opportunity to prove his coaching credentials all over again.
Unfortunately, his perception among many supporters will still be one of failure, though, even after the consistent overachievement he enjoyed at Everton, but Osman hopes that fans will learn to remember the better memories of a man that clearly made a positive impression on the veteran midfielder's career.
"For me, he ran his contract down so it was easier to get offers like that," he added. "But I genuinely don't believe he had United on his mind.
"We had a cup of tea together and chatted about stuff as a group. We wished him luck, he wished us luck, and he spoke to the rest of the players the following day and said: 'Let's finish the season in a positive way'."