Mancs: do you really want David Moyes as a manager? Do you?
As a long admirer of the way in which Utd have caused Liverpudlians to become bitter, angst-ridden, and consumed with jealousy over the course of the past seventeen years, I feel that I owe it to the club’s fans to warn them that Moyes is not the manager for you.
Not only is he tactically naive, unable to sign decent players and a pr disaster but I’ve also heard that he likes to experiment on animals, that he picks his nose and wipes it on your sofa and that he is also the kind of person who steals the last biscuit and then blames it on someone else- where possible a nearby child.
Has that worked? Will you all now lead a mass protest against the club and demand the appointment of someone more in keeping with Utd’s place in football?
I doubt it.
When Ferguson announced his decision to retire yesterday, like many people who hate Liverpool I was filled with dismay. Since the dawn of the Premiership, Ferguson has been a reassuring presence for me, a constant bulwark against any possibility that Liverpool could ever restore their hegemony over domestic football. So, his departure left me feeling slightly gloomy.
But despite this I could still take comfort from the fact that at least Everton were in decent shape. In my naivety I didn’t even consider for a moment the fact that Utd might sweep in and steal our manager, therefore compounding my sense of distress.
And yet that’s just what they look like doing. But then who can blame them? Moyes is a magnificent manager. His time at Goodison might not have yielded any silverware but they can still be seen as extremely successful years. The decade before he arrived was a dark time for supporters of the club. With the exception of the all-too-brief Joe Royle years, from the dawn of the Premiership until Moyes’ appointment in 2002, Everton were a side in crisis. Two ‘last-minute’ relegation reprieves, a succession of dreadful final league positions and the coming-and-going of a cavalcade of underwhelming players, made being an Evertonian a relatively joyless experience.
Moyes changed all that. We might still be off the pace of the really big clubs, but it would be fair to say that the manager has restored confidence and stability at Goodison and positioned us close to where a club of our stature and history should be in the league.
And he has managed to do this on a shoestring. With relatively little money to play with, Moyes has consistently found bargains. His Everton sides are proof that you don’t have to spend big to get good players; as the following list illustrates:
Tim Cahill (£1.5 million), Mikel Arteta (£2million), Tim Howard (£3 million), Leighton Baines (£5million), John Heitinga (£6million), Joleon Lescott (£4 million) and Phil Jagielka (£4 million).
That’s seven class players for a total cost of just over £30 million; less than it cost to buy one well known Liverpool outcast.
Moyes is also adept at getting the most out of every individual player. Whether it’s a class act like Fellaini or ‘second-tier’ players such as Darron Gibson or Tony Hibbert, when they take to the pitch you know that every man is going to give his all for the team, which is a rare quality in the modern game.
But that isn’t to say that Moyes is flawless. He’s often criticised for not taking the game to other teams and instead shaping Everton’s style of play to thwart rather than out-class opponents. While this can pay dividends against the big clubs, it often means that we do less well against clubs lower down the league; teams that we should have no problem overcoming.
It also can produce football that is not always pleasing to the eye. If you like long balls and an over-reliance on set-pieces then Moyes is your man. If you like the ball knocked around the park and an emphasis on the passing game then he probably isn’t.
When it comes to buying players, although adept at finding bargains in the transfer market, his rare examples of big spending have not always borne fruit. The £8.9 million Everton spent on Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and £11.25 million on Yakubu was money down the drain. Utd have both more money than Everton and an expectation that this should be used to buy quality names. I’m not so sure that Moyes is the right man to trust to do this.
And lastly we come to his European experience, something that perhaps might be paramount in the minds of Utd fans. Unlike a lot of managers working in the Premiership, Moyes does have experience in Europe. Unfortunately, this is largely confined to experience at failing miserably in Europe. It’s fair to say that under Moyes, Everton hardly set Europe alight. Our one foray into the Champions League is probably best forgotten and our Europa adventures merely served to illustrate how ill-equipped the club was to compete at that level.
All in all, Moyes represents a big risk for Utd. Although he certainly has the potential to fill the big shoes left by Ferguson, there are also plenty of question marks hanging over his managerial qualities. He is not a safe pair of hands, something that Utd fans must appreciate.
A lot is made of his similarities to the departing Ferguson, the fact that he’s a Scot, that he’s got a good eye for a player and that he’s thrived at a smaller club. It’s these similarities that must give Utd fans hope. However, this is not 1986. When Ferguson was appointed all those years ago football was a different game. In the high pressure environment of the Premiership, Moyes will have to ensure success quickly. If he doesn’t then he might one day realise that life in the big league isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.