It took a decade for David Moyes to establish himself as one of Britain’s best managers and 10 months at Old Trafford to turn him into a figure of pity and scorn. Mostly scorn.
Six months after being fired by Manchester United, Moyes is now ready to return to work, he told the Telegraph in an exclusive interview, one that could almost have been headlined “Hello, remember me? Give me a job! Please!”
But where? Despite everyone accepting the virtual impossibility of successfully following Alex Ferguson — and Moyes sure made it look impossible — the 51-year-old has been stigmatized. His man-management, tactics, transfer acumen and playing style? Not quite good enough for a really big club.
That was always the suspicion about Moyes when he was overachieving at Everton on a modest budget What happened at Old Trafford only reinforced those suspicions and also made him look like a bumbling galoot.
As if the results weren’t damning enough for all to see, Rio Ferdinand’s recent autobiography offered some negative insight from inside the locker-room.
“I think I am better-equipped to take over a job like Manchester United now than even when I did take over because I’ve had a chance to see what happens, what goes on,” said Moyes. It may well be true that bitter experience has made him a better manager, but there’s no way he’ll get anything close to a top job in England any time soon.
Despite the respect he garnered at Everton, Moyes only got the United role thanks to a rare moment of sentimentality from Ferguson, who evidently saw something of his younger self in his fellow Glaswegian and recommended Moyes to the board. It was a rare instance of an elite British club appointing a British boss.
Moyes may want to join a Champions League club. But perhaps he’ll have to settle for a side that’s simply trying to survive in the Premier League.
Like Moyes, Steve McClaren was a rising star in his forties during the 2000s. But he was so tarnished by his inept 18 months in charge of England that he ended up having to leave the country, taking charge of little FC Twente in the Netherlands. He’s now at Derby County in the English second tier.
No wonder Moyes said in the interview that he’d consider coaching abroad. He may not have much choice. Managers who look as out of their depth often end up paddling in the shallow end in their next job.
The still-ridiculously young Andre Villas-Boas got lucky, going swiftly from Chelsea to Tottenham Hotspur. But his successor at Stamford Bridge, Roberto Di Matteo, had to wait almost two years between getting the ax in west London and taking over at Schalke earlier this month. And he won the Champions League in 2012.
Appointed by Manchester City after flourishing with unfashionable Blackburn, Mark Hughes did an OK, by no means terrible job but was fired a few days before Christmas in 2009. His next employers: Fulham, QPR and Stoke.
Despite today’s impatient climate and hysterical media, going from pinnacle to pariah is not a new phenomenon. Ferguson’s predecessor, Ron “Big Ron” Atkinson, was canned by United in 1986. He returned to a former club where he had done great work, West Bromwich Albion – after almost a year out of the game, by which time West Brom were battling relegation to the third division.
If Moyes does come back soon to the Premier League, he’ll probably have to settle for a small-to-medium outfit like West Brom. You could see them, or maybe Newcastle, Stoke or QPR, approaching Moyes sometime around Christmas, with relegation looming, desperation setting in, and owners and supporters ready to accept the sort of dour, grinding solidity that was his trademark at Goodison Park. West Brom, after all, gave Roy Hodgson a lifeline following his miserable spell at Anfield.
After leaving United, Moyes headed to the U.S. for a vacation (he owns a beachfront condo in Naples, Fla.). That’s less than two hours drive from Miami, where, maybe one day, there will be an MLS franchise with David Beckham as its copiously-tattooed figurehead. And Beckham played nine games under Moyes in 1994-95, when the former midfielder was on loan at Preston North End. So done deal, basically.
Then again, don’t you have to be retired to live in Naples?