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Will the real David Moyes please step forward?


Filed: Tuesday, 14th November 2017
By: Paul Walker


I know David Moyes is a good manager. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, week after week. This guy knows what he is doing.

Trouble is that was a while ago. That old angry red hair has been replaced by white--not surprising with what he has been through with Manchester United and Sunderland-- and the doubts over whether he can still hack it at the top have been well voiced by many.

The dust has settled now on Slaven Bilic’s sad demise and Moyes finding himself rescued from the ashes of Sunderland’s shambolic relegation to be put in charge of West Ham, and charged with making sure that doesn’t happen to us. We are all going to see how he starts at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

So far he has been spot on. He’s made all the right noises, made our slackers run around a bit more, and brought in an experienced backroom team. Now the matches start and regardless of your view about the man, surely we all want him to succeed because if that happens, so do the Irons.

Now’s the point where I have to declare an interest. For the final ten years of my working life I met Moyes two/three/four times a week depending on how often Everton played. I feel that maybe, amongst our 50,000 plus fans, that I have had a unique insight into our new manager.

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I am not daft enough to suggest we were friends, or even acquaintances. Managers switch into media mode very quickly when they have to go through the sometimes tiring, tedious interview rituals that go with their job. Radio, TV, national papers, locals, agencies, Sunday papers, they all have their own press conferences these days and the poor manager finds himself answering the same questions all morning.

I doubt he remembers my name, or face, despite folk claiming I have an unforgettable mug more fitting to radio. I was just one of a group of people who stood in front of him every week for ten years holding a hand mike and hanging on his every word.

And I know what I know. This guy may have slipped from a pedestal of late following his very public humiliation and career shredding experiences at Old Trafford, and then with the basket case that was Sunderland, where he found he didn’t have any money and had to keep his predecessors backroom staff. Never gong to work, that.

But at Everton, in his pomp, he was exceptional. The perfect template for West Ham, whose owners have long coveted such a manager. One who could work on a shoestring, one who can find journeymen players and turn them into stars, one who could forge a tremendous team-spirit. One who didn’t lose much.

Moyes stood up to the intense pressure of being across Stanley Park from a rather patronising, arrogant Liverpool who, while he looked on from Goodison, won two European trophies and every trophy available apart from the league title under first Gerard Houllier and then Rafa Benitez.

Moyes had none of their riches, but in the end he matched them in league performances, took Everton into the Champions League and turned Goodison Park into a bear pit, where angels and Arsenal feared to tread.

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I mention Arsenal because Arsene Wenger once told the Liverpool press crew that he knew he had a problem when he listening to his players discussion what evils Everton would inflict upon them as they sat on the team coach heading for the match.

That’s how many teams felt facing Moyes’ Everton. They were scared stiff because they knew they were in for a kicking, and that was only from a ferocious crowd! Every one of the big clubs struggled against Moyes teams--Manchester United, Chelsea, the lot.

Oh that the 54 year-old Glaswegian could produce that sort of team for us at the London Stadium. I want to believe that he can, because I won’t forget just how good he was in that decade at Everton. He had brushes with relegation but in the end was a consistent top six/seven club with resources that should not have made that possible.

Then he was clear-eyed, confident, utterly sure of himself and he instilled those virtues into a his teams. I never once saw self doubt in his eyes. And that is what Alex Ferguson liked. He wanted Moyes as his assistant while he was at Preston, but Everton was a bigger job in Moyes view.

From then on everyone in north west football and beyond knew that Moyes would be the ’chosen one’ to take over from Fergie. How all that went so badly wrong has been dissected at length these past weeks.

My view is that he was left with an aging team, and Fergie’s backroom staff that he eliminated too quickly for any steady transition. Then he ran into multi-millionaire footballers who didn’t like their little groups and cliques being disrupted by a man with no top level CV as a player. Show us your medals... yeah, right.

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People I have spoken to at Old Trafford suggest he ran into a wall of indifference from players who had seen things run their way for too long. And he found that you can make the odd daft remark or decision at Goodison, but not at Old Trafford where your every word and decision is minutely examined.

He wilted under that pressure, should never have gone off to Real Sociedad with all the obvious language problems and then should equally never have set foot in Sunderland. Those decisions, with his desperation to get back into the big time, and quickly, have been obviously wrong and left his stock severely tarnished.

So now he has landed in east London at a club in need of just the attributes that made him so successful at Everton. And he knows he has six months to save us and save his own career, because another relegation would probably end any thoughts he had of managing in the Premier League.

It seems, too, that as many as ten managers rejected West Ham before David Sullivan and David Gold turned to a man they would have loved to have as manager a few years ago.

Ah yes, our wonderful leaders. Finally sacking Bilic and then telling him he was ‘worn out and lost interest in the job.’ What a sour way to let a man go who was respected by fans who never turned on him.

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Maybe our owners should look at their own style of management; Bilic was under intense pressure for a year, constantly two matches from the axe and forever finding himself discussed on social media or in the tabloids by Bermuda triangle ownership, where dreams and money seem to just disappear.

Can you wonder he was worn out? Interesting now is that many more people are taking up a theme I have long suggested, that our owners do not do social media, write for newspapers or even do big interviews. How long is it going to be before it sinks in? Even big Sam recently claimed that he tore his hair out at the constant stream of stuff coming from the boardroom that found its way into the papers.

I must admit to being really upset when news finally hit my phone as I walked through the Cristiano Ronaldo airport in Madeira. They’ve even got a statue of their most famous son on the key side at Funchal.

This past week on holiday I have carefully not got involved in the debate, wanting to see what Moyes did rather than rattle on about the perceptions of his character and management style like the rest of the twitter non-intelligencia.

Even though I expected Bilic to go after the Liverpool debacle, when it happened it felt a bit like the axing of John Lyall or the departure of Billy Bonds. Another piece of our club had gone. There has been so much of our legacy and history destroyed by the move from the Boleyn, so much of what we loved about the club gone. This was just another hammer blow.

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But the king is dead, long life the king. And Moyes has surrounded himself with a very decent backroom staff, almost an Everton all our yesterdays. With Chris Woods, Moyes’ goalkeeping coach at Goodison, the only one of Bilic’s staff kept on, there was a quick arrival too of Alan Irvine.

That’s another guy I have witnessed working for many years. A great support for Moyes, a man who has been in charge of Everton and Newcastle’s Academy and someone who has coached and managed at a decent level. It’s particularly interesting that he has done so well with young players. Nobody at West Ham in the youth and under 23 set-up will now not be closely monitored.

Moyes has also found his Everton chief scout, Tony Henry, working for the club as Sullivan’s right-hand man, a situation that Allardyce did not appreciate and seemingly neither did Slav. Now, though, that triangle of friction--Sullivan, Henry and Bilic is no more. Things should run a lot smother now!

Stuart Pearce, too, is someone I have felt still has much to offer. Good enough to manage England’s under 21s as well as Manchester City. He was a fearsome player with a soft spot for us as a former Hammer of the Year. I doubt he will stand for any slacking now.

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Then there’s Billy McKinley, who is a rarity. He’s a Scot who has actually played in a World Cup Finals, and they are thin on the ground. It was in France '98 and he was in the side who lost to Brazil. He was also in the UEFA finals squad in Portugal two years earlier.

As Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill’s assistant more recently, he has had a major input into their recent impressive improvement. And there’s also been several, varied, club football coaching jobs.

So Moyes has surrounded himself with a very experienced backroom - and he’s going to need one.

But it all comes down, in the end, to results. And we certainly need an upturn in fortune and form. And that is where Moyes will be judged. He has to hit the ground running, win at Watford and then make sure of a win at home to Leicester the following Friday. The old David Moyes would have no problems with that, I hope the newer Moyes is equally sound.

So, will the real David Moyes step forward. The man I watched operate for a decade on Merseyside with such clear-eyed determination. And so much success. Welcome to the Sullivan house of cards; best of luck pal, you‘ll need it.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







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