Although I am not an Everton fan, I’m a huge admirer of the Merseyside club. The term “Everton enthusiast” may be a bit too far, but perhaps the phrase “Everton-phile” is better suited, or I would happily describe myself as being “Pro-Evertonian”.
It’s due to the fact that they appear to be ever-the-underdog, not just in terms of on the pitch, but the club have perpetually been up against it in terms of finance and resources ever since I took a serious interest in football. But furthermore, I find some of their players incredibly appealing, perhaps because of their flaws, and the likes of Leon Osman and Leighton Baines resemble the modern day equivalent of the old-fashioned cult hero.
And at the epitome of my liking for Everton stands David Moyes. He’s a no-nonsense man, who has taken the club from the brink of relegation to being Champions League contenders during his reign at Goodison Park, and although Everton’s success cannot be attributed to him single-handed, I am a firm believer that he’s an incredibly talented manager who has achieved feats that others, who are currently at better clubs with better resources, would not be able to match.
In some ways it breaks my heart to say this, but I think it’s time for the Scottish coach to give up on his Goodison dream. David Moyes has the strongest team he’s ever had at his disposal this year, with Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines in exceptional form, as well as Phil Jagielka defending like a man possessed at times this season, and new signing Kevin Mirallas has also added something to the team. This season more than ever, Everton are pushing for a Champions League place, but I fear timing will not be on their side.
Tottenham have finally got themselves into gear, bringing in a fresh crop of relatively young talent in the summer as well as appointing a new exotic and exciting manager in Andre Villas-Boas, not to mention Gareth Bale currently playing the best football of his career at the moment. Meanwhile, Arsenal are firmly focused towards finishing in fourth place as expectations to match or improve on last year’s feat of finishing in third seems rather unlikely.
But If they can’t do it this campaign, it seems that they never will. Fellaini is set to leave in the summer unless Everton do make it into the Champions League, and Moyes himself clearly has his doubts, hence why he’s still yet to extend his contract beyond the current season. If the Belgian midfielder were to move on in the summer, although the Toffees would receive something near £30million from the buying club, there would be a huge dent in the team that would arguably be irreparable. Furthermore, the size of the Everton squad means their only chance of qualifying for Europe’s most prestigious cup competition comes through their final standing in the Premier League. Moyes will never have a squad big enough to truly be a competitive force in the cup competitions.
If the Scottish gaffer leaves however, where should he go to next? You get the feeling the reason Moyes is holding out on signing a new contract at Goodison Park is to see if anyone else has an offer for him. It creates an interesting situation, that brings into the equation who you think will be coming and going in terms of managers at the end of the season.
There is little doubt Rafa Benitez and Chelsea will be parting company. The Spaniard is still intensely disliked by large sections of the Blues fan base, and his efforts to steady the ship have been found wanting to say the least. But will Moyes be happy conceding at least some of his managerial powers to Roman Abramovich? I don’t pretend to know the man well, but from what I’ve seen from him over the past eleven years suggests to me that he’s unwilling to be pushed around, especially by someone who views a football club as their favourite toy and has a knack of disregarding the fans.
Similarly, Roberto Mancini appears to be a lame duck at the moment and unless he can mount together a late bid for the Premier League title, Manchester City’s Sheik owners will surely relieve him of his duties. But their replacement will no doubt be a far more glamorous man than David Moyes, and preferrably someone who has Champions League experience and knows how to spend large transfer funds well.
Then comes in the long-existing theory that David Moyes is the natural successor to Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s their shared demeanor their mutual nationality and similar tactics and approach to the game that have lead to such a hypothesis. And indeed, I am a believer that Moyes, given time to settle, would prove to be a successful Manchester United manager.
But will Fergie announce his shock retirement at the end of this season? He is 71 years old, but I get the feeling the Scot would much rather die in office than put his feet up, and I believe he continues to be so driven based on a determination to run Manchester City and old foe Arsene Wenger into the ground before his career is over. So it seems an unlikely move, at least this season. But then again, should Man United go on to complete the treble this season (which is something I definitely wouldn’t bet on), Ferguson might decide it’s time to leave on a high.
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Therefore, unless Moyes would prefer a move abroad, which seems unlikely considering the Premier League matches his managerial attributes so well, the only possible alternative is Arsenal. He would certainly suit the Londoners in some ways. The club’s distain for spending big would be nothing new for Moyes, who’s rarely had anything resembling a large transfer kitty at his disposal. Furthermore, the former Preston man is arguably better than Wenger in picking out a good deal. But whether or not Arsene will get the axe at the end of the current campaign will depend on whether the Gunners end up finishing outside of the top four.
Arsenal fans quite rightly fear change, which is why so many have stuck with Wenger despite his shortcomings this season, however Moyes is a proven Premier League manager that should appease Gunners’ supporters’ concerns. But there are also problems with this hypothetical appointment. Arsenal play in a manner that is fundamentally adverse to Moyes’s honest and physical style of football, and furthermore, the Evertonian has no experience in the Champions League, which could prove to be a huge stumbling block.
As we have seen in the past, even the most solid of managerial appointments end up in complete disaster. But if I were on the Arsenal board, I would look at the current malaise at the club and sense the end of an era. Then I would look for a relatively young, experienced, hard working and financially tight-fisted manager who could usher in a new age at the Emirates. The obvious choice would of course be David Moyes.
Of course, there are ifs and buts, maybe’s, maybe not’s and hypothetical situations in everything I’ve discussed that could never materialise, and the Premier League is an unpredictable beast at the best of times. But I simply can’t see a future for David Moyes at Everton, and with his contract up at the end of the season, I believe he senses it’s time to move on. Where he goes depends on which club is prepared to take the opportunity to have such a consistent and astute manager at their disposal. If I were in charge of Arsenal football club, I’d offer him a bumper contract before someone else does.