In the second article of our look at some candidates to possibly replace Roberto Martinez at the end of the season, we take a look at a very familiar face - David Moyes. Despite leading Everton to an FA Cup semifinal berth, and possibly more, there is a lot of unhappiness about the incumbent Spaniard on Merseyside. Though we haven't heard many rumors coming from Goodison Park, the question has to be asked if Martinez is up for the job of pushing Everton to that next level, and if he isn't who would be the best candidate.
The answer might surprise you because he is a familiar face. David Moyes left Everton for what he hoped were better days at Manchester United, but now he finds himself with some free time.
A lot of David Moyes' experience came at Everton, but stints before and after his time on Merseyside have shaped his managerial style. Before arriving at the Blues, Moyes was the Preston North End manager from 1998-2002 and took them from League Two relegation battles to the cusp of the Premier League. He was in charge for 234 matches and led Preston North End to 113 wins, 58 draws, and 63 losses.
In March of 2002 Moyes was named manager of Everton and began a stint that would see him take charge of the Toffees for over 500 matches spanning a little over 11 years. Under his watch Everton went from a relegation battle to becoming the first outside club to qualify for the Champions League. Though he never did win that trophy nor return to the Champions League, Moyes established Everton as a constant outside threat to the top 4 and put Everton into Europe with some consistency.
Following Everton, Moyes went to Manchester United where he was removed after less than a full season in charge despite having a record better than current manager Louis Van Gaal who has somehow kept his job. From there Moyes was hired by La Liga side Real Sociedad. There Moyes performed something akin to a miracle by keeping the Spanish side from relegation in his first season in charge. He was then sacked this past November after a poor start to the season.
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One thing that can always be said about David Moyes is his ability to find a good deal. For a variety of reasons Moyes never had a huge transfer budget while at Everton, but he was still able to bring in some quality players. Just to name a few he brought in Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar, and Seamus Coleman. All pretty important players that contributed significantly.
Moyes also had some duds, but that seemed to come when trying to find the right strikers and attacking midfielders. Because of the ridiculous market, Moyes was never able to find a consistent striker. Players like Andy Johnson, Ayegbeni Yakubu, and Louis Saha all had moments of brilliance, but they couldn't sustain their play for a variety of reasons including injury and old age. That said, a good part of that problem was because of the transfer budget he was provided. Moyes appeared to value building depth with several less expensive pieces rather than spend the entire budget on one player. A frustration to many supporters, but something that worked well. When Moyes did decide to spend, he did well with players like Marouane Fellaini.
David Moyes is your traditional British manager with a slight twist. He's never been a huge fan of the 4-4-2, but he does opt for a conservative 4-5-1 with 2 defensive midfielders. The big difference from a lot of managers is that Moyes expects his outside midfielders to do a tremendous amount of work on defense. He also expects his midfielders and forwards to cover a lot of ground defending as well. It is part of the reason players like Ross Barkley didn't get as much time as fans wanted under Moyes. He does not bend for his defensive requirements and it shows in his player selection.
In addition to work from the outside midfielders, Moyes expects his fullbacks to get forward with overlapping runs and provide crosses. Leighton Baines is the best example of this and his rise to national prominence came because of how involved he became in Everton's attack.
Moyes will tend to bunker up against more talented sides and play for goals on the counter attack. Sometimes it was frustrating to watch, but it did lead to a lot of memorable victories over top 4 sides. As great as these victories were, there would also be infuriating draws against inferior sides. Losses were much rarer than what we see under Roberto Martinez, but draws in games where we seemed to dominate were much more common and frustrating. There was just an inability to break down opposing defenses with enough creativity, though that could have something to do with the quality of offensive players we had at the time.
David Moyes is tough to assess. On one hand he is the perfect antidote to our current problem of giving up goals in bunches. Just based on his defensive work we should see those numbers go down regardless of how our playing squad changes this summer. But the question then becomes how do we score goals, and will Everton score enough of them. If Moyes has learned from his time away from Everton and wants to make use of players like Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley we could see the perfect balance, but it is a risk.
There is also the question of if it is worth trotting out a former manager once again. Trying to recreate the same magic we saw at Everton several years ago is risky. There is no guarantee Moyes is the right man to fix Everton now, and it is hard to say if he even wants to return. Everton supporters weren't exactly kind nor fair to him when he moved to Manchester United, and that has to weigh on him.
Maybe the best spot for Moyes is as an emergency candidate. Someone the club can turn to if no one else impresses in interviews, but making him the top choice or even one of the finalists seems like a risky venture that will not end well for Moyes or the club. The odds are shortening all the time on the Scotsman's return to Merseyside, currently at 3/1.