DAVID MOYES broke up a winning team when he got rid of Alex Ferguson’s backroom boys.
Former goalkeeping coach Eric Steele was gutted the new Manchester United chief disposed of him, assistant boss Mike Phelan and first-team coach Rene Meulensteen.
Ferguson advised against it — but Moyes wanted his own men.
Now he has presided over United’s worst start to a season for 24 years after three defeats and a draw in the opening six Premier League games.
Steele, 59, said: “He spoke to me, Mick and Rene. I told him I thought it was a brave decision.
“He listened to the manager’s advice but he wanted to be his own man.”
Steele said he was desperate to stay and clearly believes it was a mistake to dispense of all three of Ferguson’s trusted backroom staff.
He added: “I didn’t want to leave. Why would I? I knew that David was coming in and wondered who he’d bring.
“You had the United perspective — the manager saying, ‘Keep what we’ve got, keep the continuity, work with them and they’ll guide you through. You’re taking on a massive machine here. You’ve gone from Marks and Spencer’s to Harrods.’
“Then there’s David’s viewpoint, which I understand. I know him professionally. I know his work ethic, his hands-on approach.
“I don’t blame him for doing what he did. I’ve been in the game long enough to know how it is.
“But it’s ironic, isn’t it? You’ve just been part of a team that has had a great season and won the league. David De Gea’s had his best season. Does it make sense that you’re not retained to continue the good work? Sadly, that’s out of my hands.”
It was not just the manager and his staff going but Paul Scholes was also retiring — for good this time — and chief executive David Gill stepped aside.
In an interview with fanzine United We Stand, Steele said: “There were massive changes — the manager, chief executive, Scholes retiring and the coaches.
“But there are enough players in that dressing room to win when it really starts.
“My time was up, I’m proud of what I did at United and I have great memories.”
Steele, who spent five years at Old Trafford, went from United to helping out old friend Graham Turner at Shrewsbury.
Phelan has started doing a small amount of media work, while Meulensteen was quite bitter about his treatment.
He had a conversation with Moyes about staying on. But he quickly realised it was not workable as Moyes’ plan was for the Dutchman to operate more with the youth and reserve set-up than first team.
In the end, he had a protracted wrangle with the club about his pay-off.
Meulensteen has since had a short spell in charge of Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia but they could no longer afford to keep him.
He has most recently been linked with the Sunderland job.
Moyes brought in his team from Everton — Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden and Chris Woods.
He also gave coaching positions to both Phil Neville and Ryan Giggs to help with the United continuity factor.
But Giggs, 39, is still a player while, for Neville, 36, it is his first coaching post since hanging up his boots at the end of last season.
So far this season, United have struggled.
They lost 1-0 at Liverpool, were thumped 4-1 in the Manchester derby and, on Saturday, were beaten 2-1 by West Brom at Old Trafford.
Three league defeats and a draw in the opening six matches marks not only United’s worst start to a season in 24 years but the worst start of any defending champions since Blackburn in 1995.
It was always going to be a tough ask following Ferguson.
But the legendary Old Trafford chief was not immune to criticism when he was in charge — from his grandchildren.
Steele revealed: “It was great when he used to bring his grandkids in — his office was like playschool.
“They’d tell him off and ask him why he was playing certain players, ‘Why are you playing Nani, grandad? He’s rubbish’!
“He’d start laughing as they slaughtered his decisions.”
The final decision, of course, was to anoint Moyes as his successor.
Steele clearly believes it is just a shame he could not still be there to help him.