Who is David Moyes? What has he actually done with his team and his club? Is he a reactive coach or a planner? Both? How does he handle his players? Who does he sign? I wanted to make a piece on how I think he is going to do the job as a Manchester United manager by looking at what he has done at Everton.
David Moyes’ career
Starting out as a young player at Celtic, Moyes played professional football for 19 years in clubs like Preston, Cambridge and Bristol. He played as a centre back, which always reflects his teams’ solid defensive structure and ability to sign good defenders. After managing Preston for 4 seasons (1998-2002), he’s stayed put at Everton until he joins Manchester United in July.
The thing that stands out with his career so far, is how he’s done the natural progression from being a player, becoming a manager and by being given time and support, he’s kept on developing his skills and improved Everton FC by a lot since he came. He has made a point out of making smart signings (bargains), helping youth players coming through and investing in the clubs’ structures rather than spending the cash on players. Everton has spent most of their money on academy facilities, signing young and local lads for the future of Everton in mind. Making the step to Manchester United is going to be really exciting, both for David Moyes, for the club and for us fans. The magnitude of the club, the history and the expectations are very different compared to Everton and Preston. He has Sir Alexander Fergusons’ support and trust, and I think that even if you back him with statistics or show to his personality traits, the fact that Fergie backs him is enough for us to follow that thought.
Some of the players, like Distin and Jagielka has gotten a huge upward curve in performance after joining from Portsmouth and Sheffield United. Some might argue that Joleon Lescott for 2 mill £ from Wolverhampton, sold for 22 mill £ to Man City three years later, was one of the best deals done in the Premier League by a manager in the period 2000-2010. The idea of handpicking players that fit the club profile and has the ability to fill positions that they are needed for, is a very basic thing as a football manager, yet a lot of coaches do not manage to do it as brilliantly as Moyes has. Every single time he has lost one of his best players, he has found a solution to the challenge and Everton remained a contender for the UEFA Europa Cup tournament spots on the league table.
He comes off as a manager that is very reactive on the transfer market, as we saw when he signed Jelavic from a troubled Rangers, or being quick to bring Pienaar back to the club when he didn’t make it at Spurs. Important Everton players, coming to the club as a result of Moyes acting when the opportunity rose, rather than sitting back and dwelling on decisions.
My favorite five Moyes signings would be Phil Neville, Sylvain Distin, Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill.
Players like Baines, Gravesen, Tim Howard, Joseph Yobo and Louis Saha deserves a mention as well though. All very good signings, considering price and performance.
If you analyse the five first signings I mentioned individually, you can clearly find that the players were very well researched before they were signed, and all of them were players you would expect to make an impact at a club like Everton. Phil Neville deserved more playing time than he did get at Man United, and to get a shot at playing for England again, a transfer had to happen. Getting an important role in midfield after the Gravesen sale, and working as a player who has played RB, LB, CM and CDM for Everton. More importantly is the professionality a former United player can bring to a developing club like Everton. There is reason to believe he was given the captaincy armband because he was a great role model for the other players, and having someone like that is always going to have a big impact at a club.
In Distin, you got a quick centre back with a lot of Premier League experience and no-nonsense play style. Very much needed after the sale of Lescott. He has been one of the most solid CBs in the league since his arrival at Everton, and has recently signed another 1-year contract with the club. The importance of having experience and pace in the back four with an offensive LB like Leighton Baines is invaluable. The pairing with Heitinga/Jagielka has been phenomenal, and one of the main reasons Everton has conceded only 38 goals (the same as Man United) in 37 games this season. A brilliant signing that looks to end his career at Everton.
The South-African midfielder is always running and working hard for the team. In many ways a Ji-Sung Park for Everton, with his work rate and ability to make space with his offensive runs. Coming through the ranks of Ajax, Pienaar was always concidered a decent talent. He was sold off to Dortmund (who were nowhere near as good as today) and played a decent amount of games without ever really claming a spot in the team. Moyes made a brilliant loan deal for Pienaar with the option to sign him after the season, and after a good season in 2007/2008, Moyes signed Pienaar.
The Pienaar and Baines relation on Evertons left hand side is where most of the goals come from. Their co-operation is fantastic to watch, and if you’re interested in how they got so good together, take a look at this clip. Moyes seem to be a very important factor in their good team work, and that is really, really promising considering our own wingers and their performances this season.
The transfer looks very much alike the Pienaar transfer when looking in to it. Arteta, considered Rangers best midfielder in his time there, in a league where Moyes always looks to find players for a decent price, came on a loan in 2005 before he signed for Everton in 2006. He cost them 2 (!) mill and stayed for 6 seasons before signing for Arsenal in 2011. Being an important part of Tim Cahills’ success, Moyes seem to have a good eye when it comes to finding players who work well together in the key positions in team. The Arteta-Cahill partnership was frightening every time we played them, and I assume they worked with the relation the same way Moyes worked with Pienaar and Baines.
Which leads me to Tim Cahill
The Australian goalscoring midfielder was signed from Milwall after their impressive run in the FA Cup 2004. We beat them in the final with goals from Ronaldo and Nistelrooy, but Cahill was very impressive throughout the entire tournament. A lot of media people were surprised when he signed for Everton and not a “bigger club”, and for only 1,5 mill £. His time as Everton was the best period of his career in English football, and he was a fantastic player for them. Scoring 56 goals in 226 games is impressive for a midfielder in a club like Everton, and staying there for 8 seasons is a testiment to Moyes handling star players in my opinion. A brilliant signing for Moyes, that actually was nominated for the Ballon d’or in 2006. The first Everton player in 18 years to get that nomination.
What can we draw out from this?
Moyes knows what he’s doing on the transfer market. He has never (except Fellaini) made transfers making the headlines in the newspaper. He has always signed cheap players, and taking a look this list you find an impressive amount of players that made it and did well for him. The key point for me though, is the fact that all the players mentioned above, got BETTER under Moyes management. The players were okay in the clubs they played for, but became vital parts of the Everton team because of his leadership and work with them. It is a testiment to his ability to handle players in development and is going to be very important at Man United. Especially the younger players coming through.
In addition to that, the work with partnership relations on the pitch, with movement patterns and tasks given to the players, can be part of what can revitalise the form and performances of players like Nani, Valencia and Rooney.
Working with youngsters
In addition to getting Wayne Rooney through the ranks and selling Jack Rodwell for good price (for Everton), there are a lot of exciting youngsters about to break through at Everton. Some of the most promising ones are Ross Barkley, Jose Baxter and Jake Bidwell. One of the similarities between Ferguson and Moyes, is the willingness to let these youngsters play at the top level as soon as they are ready for it. Depending on who is managing Everton next year, expect to see the fruits of Moyes’ work with Barkley, Baxter and Bidwell with all of them getting playing time with the team.
For players that arrived in their twenties, like Pienaar, Baines, Cahill, Arteta, Jagielka, Fellaini and Mirallas there is one thing they all have in common. All of them have improved by playing under Moyes. And you could argue that many players didnt, but take a look at the list I linked above. He has a very high % of his players improve and become a lot better under him. The future is looking very bright for the likes of Powell, Jones, Zaha, Welbeck, Cleverley, Fabio, Januzaj and Thorpe. They are going to be given chances, and they are going to improve. Hopefully enough to make it in the long run.
What does he do with money?
He invests in youngsters, in smart signings as mentioned above and let’s the board make smart decisions. They invested a lot in “Finch Farm”, which is their training area in Liverpool. It was opened in 2007, after selling Andy Johnson and James McFadden for 10 and 4 mill £. Basically financing the training ground with the sales of two players. At United, we don’t need to do that. We have world class facilities, a great staff and plenty of youngsters to work with. Moyes can focus more on the day to day work than the clubs finances and economy. Let’s leave that to Ed Woodward and the board. That means more time to develop youngsters, work with strategy and mange players.
As mentioned above, Moyes can pretty much ignore the financial aspect. He is going to be given money to put his mark on the team. He is being given support by Ferguson and Charlton. The fans will stand by him, at the very least for a while. We are different than the clubs that keep changing mangers twice a year. We now have the Ferguson legacy to lean on if Moyes gets off to slow start. He will be given time and opportunity to make it happen the way he wants. He will be able to keep his key players, and to actually keep the team he builds. While at Everton, he had to sell whenever someone put a very good bid on a player. Seeing how he built team after team that remained in the top 6/8 in the Premier League, it is going to be very exciting to see how he will manage when he actually gets to keep the players. Another big difference is of course expectations. For the first season, I expect a top-3 placement, but I am hopeful for a league title actually. We have a team on the rise, players with experience, staff with experience, the backing of two certain Sirs. Everything is lined up for success, all he has to do is continue doing the right things.
1. Do you expect any big changes in Manchester United? If so, what is going to change?
2. Will Moyes bring any Everton players with him to Old Trafford?
3. Are there aspects of Moyes as a coach that I didn’t mention that you feel is important? What?