Moyes, who celebrated his ninth anniversary at Goodison Park on Monday, began his tenure with a 2-1 victory over the Cottagers thanks to goals from David Unsworth and Duncan Ferguson. While the near-decade the Scot has spent at Everton has provided much-needed stability to a club that, at the time he was appointed, was floundering, it has also been a rollercoaster nine years, taking in finishes one spot above the relegation zone, inside the Champions League places and almost everything in between – and that opening fixture set the tone. Everton were ahead through Unsworth within a minute. Ferguson soon added a second when Edwin van der Sar’s clearance rebounded off him and the striker rolled the ball into the empty goal, but a Thomas Gravesen red card before the half-hour and a late Steed Malbranque goal made Everton sweat before a 2-1 win was confirmed. There has rarely been a quiet moment since.
In nine years, Moyes has seen the emergence and departure of Wayne Rooney, boardroom battles raging above his head, a new stadium being proposed, decided on and then cancelled, a 17th-placed finish being followed by a fourth-placed finish and Champions League qualification, the club’s transfer record being broken numerous times before financial realities hit hard, consecutive fifth-place finishes, a League Cup semi-final defeat, an FA Cup final defeat and all manner of controversies, celebrations and disappointments. The only constant has been the manager himself. In a tumultuous time, Moyes’ continued presence has variously reassured and inspired, excited and, for some, during the most difficult spells, frustrated, but as one of only three managers currently in the Premier League with the same club today as in March 2002, Moyes’ longevity is remarkable. Indeed, only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are in the same chair, while Gerard Houllier, then Liverpool manager, is now at Aston Villa.
The feat of surviving nine years as a manager in the Premier League is reflected by Moyes’ position as the second-longest serving manager in Everton’s history, trailing only Harry Catterick, the mastermind behind the Blues’ 1960s successes. Catterick spent 12 years with Everton, from 1961 to 1973, replacing Johnny Carey and winning the League title twice and the FA Cup and Charity Shield once. Moyes may eventually match Catterick’s endurance but it is unlikely he will match his trophy haul, not to mention that of Everton’s most successful manager Howard Kendall, winner of one FA Cup, two League championships, three Charity Shields and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, Everton’s only European trophy. Times, however, have changed greatly from that glorious period of the mid-1980s, and even more so from Catterick’s 1960s heyday, when Everton were known as the Mersey millionaires. Just one trophy victory would be an achievement for Moyes, and after a turbulent nine years, it may be the only new experience left.