Reaching the FA Cup final was a long overdue reward for Everton manager David Moyes. As the Premierships’ third longest serving manager, Moyes has brought consistent performances for a low budget club. It is worth considering that at Everton he has been subject to budgetary constraints that perhaps much of his fellow managers at clubs of such stature do not have to endure. He has been lucky if given more than £20m in one season in much of his seven years to date at Everton.
The 2009 FA cup final will be an occasion as it may be the chance for a great, and potentially one day legendary manager to gain his first major trophy. In getting to the FA cup final maybe he has already achieved greatness. In that he has beaten what you could say was his target, what he is aiming for. What do you mean I ask?
Well Scottish managers have been a major force in the EPL, this victory for Moyes albeit it against a reservist Utd could be a metaphor. That the greatest Scottish manager of all time has been beaten by his successor in the line of great Scottish leaders; passing the torch onto the next generation. Sure it was an absolute dirge of a match, but it was perhaps symbolic in this way.
Maybe too much a big thing of this is being made? Well no I don’t think so, as if you really look at it some of the greatest English League managers of all time are Scots. Fergie is in fine company alongside the likes of; George Graham, Jock Stein (briefly managing Leeds but deserving an honourable mention for making Celtic a European force), Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly.
Why is it that this small nation produces so many great managers? Well there could be many reasons but there is one thing to be sure of; Moyes is going the right way about getting into this privileged company; he has what you might call the “power of Scotland” within him. So what specifically is it that has put Moyes on this road?
Well, to analyse this maybe it may be best to look at the start of Moyes’ reign at Everton. He didn’t walk in to a guaranteed top 6 team, experiencing hard times at Everton with relegation battles in his two of his first three seasons; arguably his toughest so far, certainly a considerable challenge and arguably vital experience. However these initial yo-yo seasons came to an end and the Everton Board, showing patience and likely realising the potential of this young Scot, wisely stuck by his charge.
Like Alex Ferguson and other management greats, Moyes has been given time and patience to stabilise and create Everton into a great force. He seems to carry the right traits for a club in Everton’s comparatively meagre financial position that is almost required in the modern day for success in the English Premier League. It may also be argued that without superstars, certainly the signing of world class stars (he has developed or will develop some); Moyes has created a brilliant squad based on a key principle: Hard Work.
This principle is perhaps best shown by David Unsworth describing the stabilising force Moyes brought to Everton in his first season: “He has come in and turned the club around. He’s brought in players like Richard Wright and Joseph Yobo to add quality and works us very hard in training. We train as we play. We pass the ball and the atmosphere is fantastic.” Alongside hard work, the initial signings of Richard Wright and Joseph Yobo to his latest acquisition; the shrewd loan of Jo, display another of Moyes’ qualities: his ability in the transfer market.
Under the tight budget of Everton he has found real gems, take Joseph Yobo . At £4m Yobo being a continual stalwart in the Moyes era, alongside other great findings who have more than repaid their transfer fees and their managers’ faith. Amongst these, Tim Cahill; who, purchased from Championship club Millwall for £1.5m, would now be seen as a steal at £15m and arguably a world class midfielder. Although it is questionable given the problems Mark Hughes has Man City, it is very fair to ask how good would Moyes be at a “super” club? You can’t really be sure but one thing is that he does deserve a go someday. The most likely being Man Utd, perhaps as Fergie’s successor. Very ironic given recent news that he applied to be Sir Alex’s assistant, but was completely overlooked. Will he be disregarded by them again? Could they make the same mistake twice?
In the David Unsworth quote from 2002 he refers to the atmosphere at Everton being “fantastic”. This is something that hasn’t changed since, with Everton and like Stein, Shankly, Busby and Fergie before him, he has built a brotherhood of team spirit at Everton. This is perhaps why he has this “power of Scotland” as the great Scottish managers’ teams in the English League have always been ones that contain great team spirit.
This was proven true very much recently with the Everton striker crisis. In the situation of an Everton without a recognised striker the team mucked in and still won matches, without team spirit how many clubs would have been able to cope with this? Would a team with “world class” players who refuse to play out of position for the good of the team have coped as well? The number would be minimal, Everton have shown they are a club that can cope with the bare essentials at all times.
This is another key strength behind Moyes. A man of realism completely, you have never seen him get carried away, never overconfident but never too pessimistic; a realist. This is very evident in the testament from his chairman (Bill Kenwright) ahead of his match against Ferguson showing that the former Celtic man never panicked: “They will tell you there was a day when Fergie was nearly gone and they tell you here there was a time when David Moyes was struggling. I bet Fergie didn’t feel that way and honestly I never did. If you’re doing the job right, you know in the end you’ll get there.”
The torch has been passed even if Fergie is not done yet, because it seems his place in the game might be now the level for Moyes. Something Fergie would maybe agree with, as there is evidentially a mutual respect there. Look at how easily Moyes has brought across Saha, Howard and Phil Neville.
Who knows, five years down the line in a Premiership without Ferguson; he might still be at Everton, maybe with an increase in money, perhaps Goodison Park will once again return its glory days. In this Moyes may even be overtaking Fergie in one aspect made much of in the media: great assistants.
Fergies’ apprentices; brilliant managers like Strachan, Bruce and Hughes. Well Moyes has one of his very own who might come to attention next season. His former assistant manager at Everton, Alan Irvine took reigns at Preston North End in 2007. With the Lancashire club in the hunt for the play-off spots, Moyes could be facing off against his former right hand man come August. This would be yet another compliment to a brilliant manager who arguably deserves more.
So for a saturday in May, alongside many other neutrals I expect, I will be cheering on Everton against Chelsea. For this great manager whose appearance in a final is certainly long overdue, here’s hoping it starts his road to true greatness. Who knows, maybe one day we can look at the greatest managers ever and instead of including just four great Scots: Stein, Shankly, Ferguson and Busby, we will be able to add another, David William Moyes of Bearsden, Dumbartonshire.
As an interesting aside much is made of 1990 FA cup win by Ferguson. One which many believe saved his Old Trafford career, and started his path to greatness. Well it could happen again though this time to Moyes, although he doesn’t need saved it could kick him off on a trophy run.
If Moyes doesn’t live up to expectations, then this may prove for fans of great football and Everton F.C, a tough toffee to chew on, considering the potential on display.
There is one thing that we can all be sure of; In May, a blue team will lift the FA Cup and, Chelsea fans (and the odd Liverpool fan, although many wouldn’t begrudge their neighbours having some success, considering who would be in the final otherwise and their admirable support of the Hillsborough campaign) aside; let’s hope it’s the one up north.