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Let’s hear it for the Moyes


“I am from a city (Glasgow) that is not unlike Liverpool. I am joining the people’s football club. The majority of people you meet on the street are Everton fans. It is a fantastic opportunity, something you dream about. I said ‘yes’ right away as it is such a big club.”

A lot of people ask me if I have a team I support in English football. I don’t really, but I do have a number of English clubs that I’m reasonably fond of. Of those, the one I’m perhaps most fond of, while I’d stop short of calling myself a ‘supporter’, is Everton. And David Moyes is a big part of why.

Moyes has long been touted as the natural successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and it’s easy to see the logic of it. Ferguson and Moyes are similar sorts of figures and it’s not surprising that they are good friends off the pitch. Both from Glasgow with working class roots. Both fairly dour in some ways, neither suffers fools lightly. They are both what I would call “no frills” type managers. Honest toilers, not too flashy. They are both dogged at times yet neither is scared to admit the failings of their teams when the situation requires it. Both have been known to whinge about refereeing when they lose but I believe always from a position of principle rather than simply making excuses. For those reasons I admire both men. The only major difference I see between them is Moyes doesn’t play the sort of mind games Sir Alex does with his opposition, which is why I respect him all the more. He just gets on and does his job and he does it well having overachieved at a club with an illustrious history but a pretty modest contemporary budget.

The fact that Moyes has been tipped as the heir apparent to such a successful legacy as that of Ferguson’s so many times over the years by so many respected football people is a huge vote of confidence in him. But when just last week, ahead of Everton’s clash with Manchester United, the Red Devils’ hierarchy poo-pooed any suggestion this might actually be the case, citing a lack of Champions League experience as their reasoning, in my view their loss is his gain.

While he won the Scottish Premier League with Celtic as a player, he’s arguably not a proven winner as a coach, something many big clubs look for in a manager. His only real ‘trophy’ came shortly after he transitioned from a player at Preston North End to become their manager and his team managed to win promotion from Division 2 to Division 1 (now the Championship). But the truth is his true successes are there for all to see. In his last 8 years in charge of Everton, his teams have finished 4th, 11th 6th, 5th, 5th, 8th, 7th and 7th. For Everton, qualifying for Europe four times out of eight is surely the equivalent of winning the league four times in eight seasons with Chelsea.

On top of that, there’s the talent he’s uncovered and nurtured without the luxury of paying big money for established stars in their prime. He’s unearthed some wonderfully exciting players like Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta, Leighton Baines and *cough* Wayne Rooney. All bought for a song.

If you are going to sell out and go to a big club, Manchester United isn’t a bad choice. They showed faith in Sir Alex through some initial rough patches in his tenure. And look at the rewards.

But while managing a big club has its perks, Moyes has shown how repaying loyalty with loyalty works out in your favour in the end. Now that United seems to be off the table, he’s reportedly being chased by Manchester City and Chelsea, but why would he offer himself up to that kind of lack of job security? In his 12th season at Everton, he’s the third longest serving manager at any Premier League club behind only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. Would the owners of Manchester City have kept him on when his team came 15th in his first year at Everton? Not bloody likely. Would Chelsea have kept him on when his team came 17th in his third year at Everton with the lowest points total in the club’s history? ROFLcopters!

Many a manager has thought they’re the shizzle at a relatively small club (Sam Allardyce at Bolton, Brendan Rodgers at Swansea and Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth spring to mind) and gone off to a big club to win trophies and wield big budgets, only to find themselves sacked faster than they can say Pavlyuchenko.

Moyes still has plenty of opportunities to win silverware at Everton. An FA Cup is more than possible and I would say a Europa League trophy is a realistic aim too. Either of those at Everton is a much better achievement than a Champions League trophy at a club with a budget roughly equivalent to the GDP of Canada. There’s more to life than cups and trinkets too though. David Moyes has the opportunity to attain a vastly loftier chapter in the history books than “one of the 89,943 guys who only lasted five minutes at Chelsea through no fault of their own.” He can sit alongside Howard Kendall as one of the greatest managers in the history of a grand old football club. A similar legacy to that of his good friend at Manchester United. Some might see it as a sign of weakness to stay put as a big fish in a small pond. I believe it’s actually a sign of strength and wisdom.

“Davey Moyes! Davey Moyes! He’s got red hair but we don’t care DA-VY MOYES!”

Categories: English/UK Football

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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