David Moyes celebrates ten years in charge of Everton this week. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
After being tipped off that Brian McDermott was about be appointed Wolves manager, I placed a decent wager on it at odds of 8/1. But football's a funny old game - he apparently accepted the job at Wolves and then told Reading he was leaving.....until Reading matched what Wolves were offering except over a longer time period. New contract at Reading agreed. Money had spoken. Everyone had an interview for the Wolves job, no one wanted it. The England job is vacant and manager elect Harry Redknapp doesn't seem to be budging just yet but it's clear to me that he wants it. When he does take it, the next Spurs manager will apparently be David Moyes. And then what?
I like everyone thought Andre Villas Boas would be the next manager to bite the bullet after we beat them 2-0 at home. They didn't really trouble us and seemed to give up. It was obvious to me personally that the players weren't playing for him, they were playing for themselves. That's the beginning of the end for a manager, especially a high profile manager such as AVB. The Portuguese was relieved of his duties yesterday and the only surprise element was that he hadn't gone sooner. And who's name is there, alongside Benitez, Mourinho, Capello and Sven? Yes, at 16/1, the next Chelsea Manager - David Moyes.
He was even linked with Sunderland, Aston Villa, Newcastle etc.
This article isn't suggesting Moyes is about to jump ship. Well, it isn't meant to anyway. But there is an increasing possibility that it just may happen sometime soon, given the recent stagnation of the club, the selling to keep afloat transfer policy of the board and the "If you want new players you will have to find the money yourself" attitude of "support" towards the manager.
It seems to me that it would be no surprise were a good opportunity to come along for Moyes then he would take it. The sort of opportunity that Tottenham Hotspur could present to him - a young, elitist squad full of internationals, a fair share of world class players and a chairman with plenty of money to support his manager in the transfer market. See also Chelsea, although given Moyes' public statements of affection for his relationship with his chairman I don't think I'll be lumping on the odds of 16/1 for him to go there.
It got me thinking. What has Moyes done for Everton? (Hang on, don't start just yet!) What does he mean to this club? Could Moyes take us any further? Do I enjoy watching David Moyes' Everton play football? And so on....
When David Moyes took over nearly nine years and fifty one weeks ago, Everton couldn't go the full ninety minutes at 100%, we played very average football, had an old squad, didn't do anything in the league, the cups, languished around mid to middle-bottom table for a good few seasons. Moyes came in and the transformation was instant. Out went the old guard. In came newer, fresher, younger faces and up through the ranks came a few Academy graduates.
Everton had only finished in the top half of the Premier League once since 1992-93 before Moyes' arrival. Since 2002, we have had seven top ten finish, and it's touch and go for another this season. Primarily, that's what David Moyes has done for Everton. Secondarily, we have earned our place in Europe again three times, reached quarter finals and a semi final of the best cup competition in the world and finished runners up two seasons ago. We also have the very real possibility of emulating that again this season.
David Moyes played as a defender. His coaching staff are all mainly defenders. Sometimes that shows. Many people have passed comment about how the gaffer chooses hard graft over flair. Fine. but you need some unpredictability to score goals to achieve results. Royston Drenthe is prime example of a "non-Moyes" player. On the ball he is exciting, quick, takes risks, creates space and opportunities and has weighed in with some decent goals. So why doesn't David Moyes like to start him every game? Well, bedding in period aside, he doesn't have that work ethic about him. When he loses the ball he tends to stop.
On the other hand, Tim Cahill. Very much a Moyes player. No flair at all. No step overs. No drag backs. Quick, but not the quickest. But hes horrible to play against. He bites. He niggles. He gets stuck in. He has scored some very important goals for the club and is the best header of a ball I've seen since Duncan Ferguson. And even though he hasn't really done it for me this season, the reason Moyes continues to stick with the Aussie is because he never stops running, working hard, mucks in with defensive duties and causes problems for the opposition.
David Moyes' philosophy is to work hard and reap the rewards. There's nothing wrong with that. Even now, though, I still find myself questioning some of his decisions. On Saturday, for example, Denis Stracqualursi was woeful. I dont think he touched the ball. Yet Moyes left him on and took Cahill, who had a decent game, off. In contrast, Drenthe faded out once he scored and Moyes rightly replaced him.
David Moyes' teams consist of players who graft, tackle, don't do anything fancy and grind out results. The annoying thing is when we come up against similar teams we drop points. Looking at February we played Fulham in the cup and ground out a 2-1 win. We then played City and beat them. We also played Chelsea and beat them well. Sandwiched in there though, we went away to Wigan and drew one all. Blackpool came to town in the cup and we put them to bed in the first ten or so minutes. Blackpool like to play football though. If it was a lower league team who were more rugged we would have struggled; won - but struggled.
So. If opportunity knocked for Moyes I wouldn't blame him one bit for taking it. Why would I? He's the third longest serving manager in the Premier League. His loyalty is unquestionable. He's had no backing from the board recently, had to generate his own transfer kitty, and continues to work miracles with the smallest squad in the division. But, where as Moyes will go, Everton won't. So what for us?
Plenty of names have been talked about. "Oh I'd love Brendan Rogers. Swansea play lovely, patient football and we have better players than them blah blah blah" "What about McDermott?" "Would you have Curbishley?" "Martinez has been unlucky at Wigan, he could do a decent job with better players."
Not for me.
To carry on the excellent job David Moyes has done over the past (almost) ten years, we need a manager with a similar philosophy. Someone who gets the best out of slightly above average players. Someone who has at his disposal mainly hard workers with a few creative players to top it off. Someone who organises the team well, prepares for games with a fine toothed comb and gets results - especially at home.
Paul Lambert, anyone?
I can safely say that David Moyes will never be sacked by Everton a) because there will be a mutiny at the hands of the board, and b) we couldn't afford the rightly due severance payment. I also don't think he will walk; well not without having something lined up. I hope he can top off the excellent work he has done by bringing home a trophy this season, his tenth season in charge. And then I hope he can build on it and propel us back to European football on a consistent basis. I hope the board find the resources to back him or step aside and let someone else do it. Hope, though, can be a fragile thing to rely on.
What do you think? Comments always welcome below.
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