David Moyes will in seven days have been Everton manager for exactly 10 years, having been appointed on March 14 2002 after Walter Smith was sacked. The decade has brought all the highs and lows that would be expected for a Premier League side and then some, but as the 10th anniversary approaches in a week’s time there is a question over whether Moyes will see an 11th anniversary at Goodison Park next year. Two managerial vacancies, one current at Chelsea and one possible at Tottenham Hotspur, have started to throw the manager’s future in doubt.
Moyes’ claim to either job – should he consider leaving Everton this summer, that is – centres on his longevity at Everton. Time is the most impressive factor in Moyes’ favour, particularly in the absence of trophies or other tangible rewards. To survive a decade in the Premier League is a staggering achievement – only a quick glance at Chelsea’s long list of managers in the same period backs that up – and for almost the entirety of that time Moyes has had the full support of the Everton faithful.
There have been the occasional murmurs of discontent, usually coming in the first half of a new season when summer optimism gives way to a grimmer reality of the autumn and early winter, and there are still some holdouts who cannot abide Moyes’ preference for playing a lone striker at home despite the results that have been gained that way. By and large, however, Moyes is as popular today as when he walked into Goodison for the first time, although that would likely not have been the case pre-Christmas such is the fickle nature of football.
A perception of Moyes as unfashionable – raised by Henry Winter in the the Daily Telegraph – would count against the 48-year-old, perhaps more for the Chelsea position than the potential one at Spurs. It is a tag that stems from the football Everton play, based around grinding out results through a packed midfield but is more than a little unfair for two reasons. First, Moyes has never had access to the likes of Rafael van der Vaart or Juan Mata, truly world class creative players at the peak of their powers, and Moyes’ sides have always had a dash of creativity, from Wayne Rooney and Mikel Arteta in the past to Steven Pienaar and Royston Drenthe today.
The next seven days will see countless 10-years-of-Moyes features, analyses and reports, all touching on many of the same subjects – fourth place in 2005, Wayne Rooney, finances, ambition and the transformation of the club under his stewardship. But the most fascinating issue of Moyes’ Everton tenure may not be the last 10 years but what happens in the next few months.
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