David Moyes may never get another opportunity to manage one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs. The damage done to his reputation after his disastrous 10-month spell as Manchester United manager looks to be irreparable.
Moyes was the wrong man for Manchester United, something most couldn’t see from the off. His limitations as a manager were exposed, while his better traits that won him so much goodwill while at Everton were never given a solid platform to reveal themselves amid a group of apparently insubordinate players.
Moyes wasn’t the right fit for Manchester United because his footballing ideals didn’t go hand-in-hand with those of last season’s Premier League champions. Moyes has never been one for vibrant, attacking football. His principles lie in defending his own keep first, then worrying about turning a draw into a win. It’s not unfair to say those at United weren’t buying into that premise.
So how does Moyes go about rebuilding his career? Is a short trip into the studio on the cards? That probably wouldn’t be too wise. If Moyes is going to fight off the demons of his stint at Old Trafford, he’ll need to do it by being a manager, by doing some good at another club.
How about a page out of Steve McClaren’s books? The former England manager, previously admired for what he had achieved either as a head coach or as an assistant incidentally at United, moved abroad and found success in Dutch football with FC Twente. In his second season in the Netherlands, McClaren won the Eredivisie title, earning him a move to German side Wolfsburg, who had recently been crowned Bundesliga champions.
Interestingly, Moyes was touted as a possible option for Schalke in the recent past. A move to Germany and the Royal Blues would have given the Glaswegian the kind of tools to prepare him for life at a club of Manchester United’s size. Schalke are a team regularly in the race for a top four position in Germany, and though Moyes appeared surprisingly at home in the Champions League this season, the experience of doing it abroad away from the watch of the English press would have been invaluable.
Where Moyes failed at United was through his inability to shake the underdog mentality he had so proudly adopted at Everton. Schalke, at present, are not a match for Bayern Munich, while local rivals Borussia Dortmund have remained well ahead of them since Jurgen Klopp arrived. But Schalke are capable of beating the big teams, both domestically and in Europe.
Moyes is still a manager who can learn a lot, but he’s also a manager who can offer a lot if given the right environment to work. He hasn’t become a bad manager overnight – or over the course of a traumatic 10 months. Think of the good he did while at Everton: building them up as a regular for a Europa League finish while working to a budget that paled in comparison to those around him. And of course there’s the success he had in bringing through young players and making the most of a very good academy. Clubs around Europe who are in need of that managerial skill may just look to Moyes as a good candidate.
In England, Moyes has been linked with a couple of jobs this summer. Newcastle and Tottenham look set for a managerial shakeup come the end of the season, with the latter certain to move on Tim Sherwood and the former’s supporters disillusioned with life under Alan Pardew.
But Moyes needs an escape, not another reason for the knives to be sharpened. He’s one disastrous defeat away from falling back into the mire that was this season. Not only does Moyes need to allow the focus to be permanently switched onto something or someone else, he needs to repair and get his mind back on track, something that is extremely difficult to do under the pressures of English football.
There are sure to be opportunities for Moyes to reinvent himself around Europe – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at a club from one of the continents leading leagues.