There has been much talk about the legacy David Moyes would leave at Everton if he was to walk away this summer. Some say Everton should be thankful for the manner in which he has established them in the Premier League. The more ambitious say he will leave Everton with an aging squad bereft of a winning mentality.
But regardless of your opinion of Moyes and the job he has done at Everton, in amongst the current trend of chopping and changing your manager, eleven years at one club is a momentous achievement. But now, with Moyes stalling on the renewal of his contract (which expires this summer), it has lead to discussions about the future of a manager who is held in such high regard by those within the game.
His excellent reputation, it has to be said, has been well earnt. In his eleven years on Merseyside, Everton have gone from relegation candidates to Champions League hopefuls.
The manner in which he has established the club in the upper reaches of the Premier League is admirable too. Throughout his tenure, players like Wayne Rooney, Joleon Lescott, and Mikel Arteta have pinched by the rich and the illustrious.
But with the incoming monies, the Scot has spent wisely. The signings of Tim Cahill, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and a few more remain testament to that.
This season, potentially the last of the Moyes reign, has been one full of frustration for the Everton manager. A respectable sixth place finish looks likely, but at one point, the Toffees had fourth place and the FA Cup in their sights. They have come up short in both of their pursuits.
Herein lies the biggest criticism of Moyes. For all the steadying and growing that Everton have done under his watch, not once have they performed in a high pressure encounter. “Bottler” is a strong term, but one that has often been banded about by those of a red persuasion when talk turns to Moyes.
This season in many respects has been a microcosm of that. Everton were torn to bits by Wigan in the FA Cup quarterfinal, whereas they were unable to secure victories against fellow Champions League challengers Tottenham and Arsenal. A win in any of these games would have given the season a completely feel.
Everton have had the talent amongst their ranks to have won something in the decade under Moyes. But for some reason, on the biggest stage, they freeze.
Players have come and gone in the last eleven years, but this concerning trait has remained prominent. The manager must take some responsibility for this. He has to.
Perhaps this is why no top side has taken a chance on Moyes as of yet? He has made a name for himself in circumstances which are not commonplace in the modern game. Mangers don’t get time to build squads over a decade any more. Owners spend big for instant success, an ideology which is almost the anthesis of the Scot’s Everton reign.
With a war-chest of transfer funds and a side challenging on both a domestic and European front, Moyes remains an unknown quantity.
This is why for the time being, Moyes would be smart to stay at Everton. The speculation about his future has arisen because of his non-committal stance on a new contract. But despite this unenviable situation, the Scot hasn’t really been strongly linked with any other roles. Looking at the managerial landscape, where would he go?
Manchester United has been cited as his eventual destination, but Sir Alex Ferguson looks unlikely to be going anywhere soon. Chelsea will pursue a more flamboyant and reputable name this summer; Manchester City will look at similar targets should they choose to part company with Roberto Mancini.
There has been some talk of Moyes managing in Germany, but this looks unlikely. Others suggest he might take some time away from the game, pointing towards his recent appearances on BBC’s Match of the Day and Sky’s Monday Night Football as an indication the Scot is looking to get into the punditry gig.
But this would be ill-advised. Sitting in a television studio will not quell any doubts about his ability as a top manager. Winning a trophy with Everton, getting the team into Europe and performing well? Well, that might just do it.
There are those who would argue this is beyond Moyes. The aforementioned absence of a winning mentality aside, many think Everton and their manager have hit their proverbial glass ceiling. But I wouldn’t adhere to that. Everton still have the capabilities to get even better next season.
Marouane Fellaini looks likely to depart this summer and his sale would give the Everton manager around £25m to re-invest in his squad. This, hopefully for Evertonians, would be in addition to the £8m Everton looked set to part with in January for Leroy Fer.
Fellaini will not represent as big a loss for Everton as many may expect. The majority of Evertonians would be happy to see the Belgian go — certainly if it is a choice between him and Leighton Baines. Other players will also play a more significant role next season, which should fill the gap left by the departing Belgian. Kevin Mirallas will get even better, Victor Anichebe is beginning to realize his potential and Ross Barkley looks to be finding his feet.
With this in mind, why would Moyes go? With no jobs out there for him to readily walk into and such a strong squad potentially at his disposal, there is a chance to cement his reputation as one of Europe’s top managers. There is still a chance for Moyes to enhance and better his Everton legacy instead of bringing the curtain down on it.
Should Moyes move on? Are Everton in need of a fresh start?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball