David Moyes managed Everton for 11 years. It’s not quite the 26 years that Sir Alex Ferguson managed at Manchester United. But 11 years is a long time.
Long enough to see a generation of players come and go. Long enough to build a club in your image. And long enough for your identity, and that of the club’s, to become entwined.
David Moyes had become Everton for many people. Or perhaps more accurately, Everton had become David Moyes.
When you thought of the club, no player’s name sprang to mind. Because it wasn’t about the players. Everton always had good players, but they had a star manager.
You never worried about Everton under Moyes. You only worried about what would happen after he left. But as it’s transpired, there was no need for worry.
Everton’s finances have not crumbled, and they are nowhere near the abyss. If anything, they stand on the cusp of glory. Whether they reach the Champions League or not, Roberto Martinez has shown that succession need not be difficult.
No one likes change. Change is difficult. Change takes time. But sometimes, change is exactly what we need.
Everton didn’t appear in the need of change. If anything, it was the opposite that was required. More Moyes, and as much Moyes for as long as possible – that’s what the club wanted. A Moyesless future was the last thing they needed, and yet this is what was being planned by the man himself.
David Moyes had grown tired at Everton. He was tired of fighting chairman Bill Kenwright for money, tired contenting himself with challenging for Europe, tired of seeing his best players leave. He was just tired of the struggle.
And so Moyes cast his eye east. He had long been a scholar of German football, and having apparently reached the glass ceiling of the British manager in England, a move to the Bundesliga seemed like the next logical step. Of course, Alex Ferguson had other ideas in mind.
The flirtations of a fellow Scot left Everton Moyesless. With no manager, and no money to give a new manager, the future looked bleak on Merseyside. However, the diverging fortunes of Martinez and Moyes have proved that succession doesn’t always have to be difficult.
One of the reasons that Roberto Martinez has been so successful in taking over from David Moyes is that he’s nothing like his predecessor. Moyes is pragmatic man, who seeks to work as best as he possibly can within his limitations. His natural tendency is always to reduce the risk of the catastrophic rather than reach for the spectacular.
Martinez is the opposite of this. He’s the eternal optimist, the man who told Bill Kenwright ‘I’ll get you into the Champions League’. The Spaniard is always trying to win first, rather than simply avoid defeat.
And this positivity has rubbed off on his players. How could it not? Such absolute change can only be refreshing.
This is the trick that was missed at Old Trafford. Ferguson was given the responsibility to choose his successor, and in a great act of vanity, chose the man who most closely resembled himself.
However, when change is forced upon a club, it’s not always best practice to try and minimize its affect. This may be especially true when it concerns a manager who has been at a club as long as Moyes and Ferguson were. Although the natural reaction may be to go for ‘more of the same’, the potential refreshing benefits of going for something different are all the greater.