New Manchester United manager David Moyes has revealed he was thinking of extending his stay at Everton before the Premier League champions came calling.
Moyes, 50, was confirmed as the man to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at United on Thursday - meaning an 11-year spell at Goodison Park will come to an end following the conclusion of the current campaign.
Speaking ahead of the Toffees' game against West Ham on Sunday, Moyes asked for no questions about his move to United "out of respect" for Everton. However, he did suggest that he was considering putting pen to paper on a new contract at the club.
"It was very difficult [to leave]," Moyes said at a press conference. "I've got great respect for the chairman [Bill Kenwright], and we've had a great relationship. He's a real good guy and he's been great to me. It was a difficult meeting, but one he totally understood. He knew that this was just the way it was going.
"I wasn't planning to leave Everton, my contract was running out but if you pushed me my mind was swaying towards staying at Everton. I had everything in place for next season, all the preparation ready and pre-season underway.
"All we've ever done here is keep planning and preparing for what's next, and that's what we've done.
"I want to thank the fans for the support they've given me. It's not normal now that a manager stays in a job 11 years these days, so I have to thank them for their backing.
"I took over from a great guy, Walter Smith ... he made the job easier for me. I had the chance for some stability, and to build the team up. I do think there has been a big change. I think this is a club that, tomorrow, will still be competing for Europe. That is the most important thing."
United opted to appoint Moyes based primarily on the recommendation of Ferguson, who believes his fellow Scot is the perfect man to succeed him. Moyes revealed that he has also spoken with the Everton board about who might come in to fill his vacancy, with Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martinez, Cardiff City's Malky Mackay and Swansea's Michael Laudrup linked with the post.
"The chairman asked me [about who should succeed him as boss]," he confirmed. "I will help Everton as much as I possibly can. If there is anything I can do to help Everton Football Club and Bill Kenwright towards what's next then I am happy to do so."
Following Moyes' appointment at Old Trafford, there has been speculation that he will raid his old club for star players - particularly Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. While not responding to the rumours directly, he expressed his hope that the current squad on Merseyside will not be broken up over the summer.
"Everton's a great club. I see no reason why [players might leave]," he said. "I do think Everton have made progress and we're quite regularly competing to be around fifth, sixth, seventh most years."