As initially broken by the Daily Mail here, David Moyes is finally the front-runner for the Aston Villa job. A man of an immense wealth of experience, the fan’s choice and with connections to our rumoured new board, it seems the stars are finally aligning in our favour. The question is, is he right for us now?
Moyes’ managerial career began with his most relevant experience to our current predicament, as he finished a playing career that took him from Celtic to Bristol City and finally to Preston North End, amongst others.
There, he took the manager’s job after years of preparation, having taken his coaching badges early on in his playing career, with ambitions to go right to the very top.
And boy, was he a success at Deepdale. After keeping the side up in his first year, in the second despite getting to the play-offs his side were beaten in the semis. The following year, the Division Two (now League One) title came and somehow the season after that, in spite of little transfer activity he took his side all the way to the Division One Playoff Final, where they lost 3-0 to Bolton. Undeterred, the next season saw another push to the playoffs, curtailed only when, on the 14th March 2002, Everton came calling.
Moyes’ record at Everton speaks for itself, with its biggest compliment being it won him the Manchester United job.
In 518 league games, from the distant reaches of March 2002 to June of 2013 Moyes presided over 218 wins, 139 draws and 161 losses, with an overall win ratio of 42.08%.
Winning LMA Manager of the Year following a 7th place finish in his first full season, the following year was somewhat of a failure, with his side only just staying up on 39 points.
The Glaswegian’s finest season was subsequent to that, which culminated in qualification for the UEFA Champions League in the 2004-05 season. Whilst the club could never build on such success due to some dodgy refereeing in the playoff round (thanks to the unprecedented case of Liverpool winning the tournament itself) Moyes continued to consistently impress, with his solidly set-up Everton sides always outplaying expectations. Generally, his sides would start slowly as they recover from selling last season’s star in the summer but by the end of the season they’d be the fixture all the other clubs would hope to avoid. A date with Moyes’ Everton was the death of a number of title challenges, including some spectacular games- who can forget the 4-4 against United at Goodison Park?
Assisted until 2007 by Alan Irvine, in the 2008-09 season David Moyes appointed Steve Round as his Number 2, and thanks to this, the following, and last, 4 years of the Scotsman’s reign were the most consistent, despite regularly having to offload his better players when the “bigger” clubs came calling. This though in turn helped keep Everton afloat, with Lescott and Rooney particularly of note.
Hugely successful in the transfer market, Moyes brought in the likes of Tim Cahill, Leighton Baines, Joleon Lescott (before he became an imbecile), Marouane Fellaini (before he became inept) and many others and not one of them for over £15m.
Moyes’ consistent defying of the odds and all round excellency saw him linked to many jobs over his tenure at Everton, most notably in the summer of 2010, after a certain Ulsterman walked out of Aston Villa, but it wasn’t until 2013 and the retirement of another Glasgow-born Premier League manager that David Moyes finally left Everton.
David Moyes and Manchester United were never meant to be. A super-club and an ultimately mid-table manager, the mind-sets never matched up. Everything that made Everton great under Moyes was a stick to beat him with at United. United weren’t meant to be hard to beat, they were meant to beat the hard to beat teams. Moyes’ brand of solid defence and dangerous counterattack simply weren’t the right United. History; however, will judge him slightly more kindly than the immediate aftermath – whoever took over from Ferguson with that aging, jaded squad was on a hiding to nowhere. As evidenced by Louis van Gaal’s struggles, despite spending far greater sums than the Scotsman was ever allowed, this United nut was a far harder one to crack than anyone would have though in the summer of 2013.
In spite of all this, his time at United can only be considered a failure, and after being removed of his duties on the 22nd April 2014, he took some time out of the game to take stock and revaluate.
Moyes returned to management away from the prying eyes of the British fans and media at Real Sociedad of La Liga in Spain. This tenure too, much also be considered a failure, given the squad Real possessed at that moment, with stars such as Asier Illarramendi, Inigo Martinez and Carlos Vela (who underwent a quite astonishing decline) on their roster (amongst others).
Appointed in November of 2014, Moyes inherited a side without a win in 10 games, in 19th place. Following his appointment, Sociedad never again entered the relegation zone, slowing climbing the table and levelling out at 12th by the end of the season, with 46 points, 44 goals and 51 concessions. A busy summer saw the quite excellent Brazilian striker, Jonathas, Asier Illaramendi and Bruma arrive. Despite this, after a start featuring only 2 wins from 11, Moyes was let go by the club. Again, his style really didn’t suit the environment in which he was purveying it. His sides were considered overly defensive and lacking in composure in attack, as he tried to implement his tried and tested English counter-attacking style in a Spanish environment.
The change in culture also proved difficult for the Scot, and although he started to try and learn the language, perhaps the intransigence of his role got to him, and he never really settled, still living in the Hotel he stayed in when he arrived when he was sacked, 364 days following his initial appointment
One must not forget, he did manage a sensational 1-0 win against the mighty Barcelona at Anoeta, and unlike his previous jobs, he was working under a Sporting Director, as is often the case on the continent, and found himself with players he possibly did not rate personally, typified by Bruma, who barely saw the pitch under Moyes’ stewardship.
Arguably the man the Villa have needed ever since Martin O’Neil left, David Moyes certainly fits the bill in terms of what the club needs right now: proven track record in the Premier League, experience of managing a big old club, comfortable working with a small budget, experience and relative success in the lower divisions and most importantly of all, he knows how to organise a defence. When one looks at the Championship upper echelons, it is plain to see that a porous back-line gets you nowhere.
Whilst his last two jobs are impossible to ignore, with both there were serious mitigating circumstances, and 2 seasons of relative failure vs a decade of success at Everton? Only one winner there.
Furthermore, he has experience of working under Keith Wyness, our CEO-elect, with the pair of them working together for 6 years, and as such would grease a few cogs in terms of getting the club moving and back onto its feet again.
One concern is the rumoured involvement of Damien Comolli, and the continuing presence of Paddy R[eill/ile]y, with whom Moyes likely would not want to work, having turned his nose at the idea of working with him once before, when he rejected the Villa’s advances last winter, after the former Liverpool scout was said to have audaciously walked into a Sociedad training session and attempted to offer him the job there and then. Paddy was send packing.
Of note in his favour, is Steve Round’s relative availability to follow Moyes to the Villa, given his current position of part-time coach at Derby. With much having been mentioned over the relative significance of the role of Assistant Manager, having his preferred Number 2 able to join him is a real boon to Moyes’ prospects, given his greatest period of success at Everton came with Round by his side.
Also worth considering is the fact that Moyes is the only of the preferred 3 (himself, Di Matteo and Nigel Pearson) to have any significant track-record in the Premier League. Di Matteo only has a few months at Chelsea and West Brom behind him before getting sacked from both, and Pearson almost managed to relegate this season’s Premier League champions.
Moyes’ record at that level will also possibly garner interest from other top division clubs, so should Dr X really want him, now is the time to act.
Finally, Moyes is the one name who truly unites the fans, with by far the smallest minority of naysayers of all the contenders. With them onside, he is instantly granted a lease of life to perform without the shackles of having to win the 12th man over first, and hopefully would dampen the somewhat toxic atmosphere that at times envelops Villa Park.
Hopefully, the coming weeks will see the Villa welcoming their 9th Scot to take the reins at the club, and ideally the first to bring in some silverware since George Ramsey, back between 1884 and 1926, when he won 6 FA Cups and 6 Division One championships.
If Moyes can have but the tiniest fraction of that success, we Villa fans will be most grateful indeed.