Why Everton should be grateful to Manchester United and David Moyes
The sight of the grim reaper and his inflatable scythe haunting David Moyes at Goodison Park on Sunday will be one of the defining images in the dying embers of the Scot’s reign at Manchester United.
April 24th, 2014
The stunt, organised by a bookmaker, just added to the humiliation for Moyes – who was barracked by the Everton fans throughout the 90 minutes as the Toffees strolled to one of their easiest wins over United in decades.
Contrary to popular belief the Everton fans were not angry with Moyes simply for leaving the club, (though there was frustration that he allowed his contract to run down, seemingly in anticipation of being offered the Old Trafford job). It was his comments and behaviour after moving to the Red Devils that sullied his legacy.
He clumsily pursued Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini, making a £28million joint-bid later labelled “derisory and insulting” by Everton. He then infuriated the fans further by patronisingly stating that if he were still at Goodison he would let them go “for the good of their careers”.
That directly contradicted his views while Everton boss, where he fiercely resisted bids for his top players, including Joleon Lescott in 2009.
But while his behaviour understandably drew an angry reaction, Everton fans should actually be grateful to Moyes and Manchester United.
Firstly, we have to recognise the great work Moyes achieved while Everton manager.
He turned a struggling, aging team into a regular top-six side all while having a negative net spend. I daren’t imagine where we would be had he not replaced Walter Smith in 2002, though I guess it would be somewhere in the Championship.
However, we also have to be extremely grateful to Manchester United for taking Moyes off our hands.
The Scot was excellent for Everton but the final few years of his tenure had seen things slowly turn stale.
He lost some of the zest and verve of his early years, consistently looking to lower expectations and highlight the financial limitations he had to cope with.
That ensured he was secure in his job, knowing he would be praised for any success but not blamed for any failures. It also covered up growing doubts about his tactical nous, cautious approach and failure to deliver in big games.
The time was right for club and manager to go their separate ways, but Moyes’ stock was so high it was only going to be a club like United that would force him to move.
With Moyes gone, Everton have now been liberated under Roberto Martinez.
He had those solid foundations to build on but he refused to put a roof on his ambitions, openly stating his desire to qualify for the Champions League, all while playing some of the finest football seen at Goodison in a generation.
David Moyes once warned his players that most people who leave Everton “are the poorer for it”.
I doubt he ever thought that would also apply to him. But we should be very grateful that it did.