This week David Moyes reaches 10 years in charge of Everton Football Club.
A momentous achievement for so many reasons.
With only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger with a longer tenure, Moyes and indeed Bill Kenwright should be applauded for the longevity of his appointment.
Everton were in trouble when Moyes came in and it was a remarkably brave decision for Kenwright to place his trust in 38 year old manager who although relatively successful at Preston, was generally unproven.
It was a gamble but it’s been a gamble that has paid off.
Before his arrival, Everton were perennial strugglers and other than an FA Cup win under Joe Royle, appeared destined for relegation.
With last day escapes against Wimbledon and Coventry, it felt like a case of when they would be relegated rather than if.
Finances haven’t changed that much at Everton. We’re still as skint – if not more so – than we were back then. But the club has changed immensely.
What Moyes has achieved is nothing short of miraculous.
The club has gone from relegation fodder to challenging for or achieving European qualification on a regular basis. Mid-table is seen as a failure now at Goodison Park with the fear of relegation a thing of the past.
Yes, the trophy cabinet is just as bare as when Moyes arrived but anyone who feels his time at Everton hasn’t been successful is deluded.
Up until Manchester City’s billions and Spurs re-emergence as a force, the top 4 was a Champions League cartel dominated by the same four clubs. All that was to be decided was in which order they finished.
But Moyes broke into that. And he did after the last minute sale of the clubs crown jewels in Wayne Rooney and without significant financial clout. Only a tough draw in the qualifiers and a dodgy decision by Pierluigi Collina prevented further progression but one should never take away from what an achievement just getting to the qualifiers was.
Without serious financial backing, nobody else has managed it since and is not likely to anytime soon.
It can’t be easy managing Everton Football Club.
One of the original big boys, fans still expect success. But throughout the decade in charge, Moyes has had to strive for that success with one arm tied behind his back.
Yes, he’s made mistakes. But what manager hasn’t? The best managers don’t get it right all the time, they get it right most of the time and that pretty much sums up Moyes reign in charge.
His frustration was clearly evident in the summer and this continued into the season.
He looked like a beaten man. One who had taken the club as far as he could and was bereft of energy and ideas as to how to kick on yet again.
But he did. He managed it.
A change in fortunes and positive activity in the January transfer window changed everything. Here we are in March with Everton on their usual second half of the season push, still not out of the race for European competition and within a hair’s breath of a Wembley appearance.
The change in Moyes and indeed the club has been palpable. To the point where even the Blue Union have decided to place all protests momentarily on hold to allow the club to push forward with a united front for the remainder of the season.
As things stand, it is difficult to imagine Moyes being in charge at Everton for the next 10 years but one hopes the lift in recent weeks, leaves Moyes believing he has unfinished business at Everton and himself and the club can kick on.
Surprisingly, there are fans who believe his time should be up at Everton.
The twisted logic being that Moyes has taken the club as far as he can without investment but a new man will change that, with the same group of players and the same lack of money.
Anyone who firmly believes that needs to sit down and give their head a little wobble.
If it is your belief that his time is up, answer me this? Who would replace him?
I’ve a sneaky suspicion there won’t be too many managers out there queuing up to come into a club with no money and attempt to replace a manager who has consistently had the club punching above their weight for the best part of a decade.
Let’s be honest, you’d be mad to.
The only managers who will be interested in coming to Everton are those either on the very start of their managerial career or a journeyman, whose ego believes he can revive the club even though he hasn’t managed it anywhere else.
With a number of top jobs potentially available in the summer, it may be testing times for Everton to keep hold of their manager and should Moyes believe his career will progress more elsewhere, few could deny him the opportunity.
But the glint in the eye and the hunger to succeed is back and I hope that means he feel’s Everton is the right place for the next few years at least.
Because for most of us, it is still a case of “In Moyes We Trust”.
For the rest, it may very well be a case of you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
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