For most of the season David Moyes has looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. There has been the wide eyed stare, not knowing what way to run or which direction to turn (okay, so from what we have seen, not much turning has been going on, just a lot of crossing), the indecision and being flattened from the speeding juggernaut– oh wait that just happened – I think it was called the 3-0 lost to Liverpool.
But, if you think about it, David Moyes is actually doing pretty well. If you look at what he achieved with Everton, he is bang on track for a successful season:
At the start of the 2013/14 Premier League Season, very few pundits and fans would have predicted the next 9 moths would be so entertaining. There has been the demise of Manchester United, the Liverpool renaissance, the closely fought battle for the 4 Champions League spots, and the multiple teams embroiled in the battle against relegation. However, what has proved to be the most entertaining story by far is the drama surrounding the Premier league managers.
It has been a long time since we have seen so many managerial causalities in one season. What makes this season even more unusual is the managers who have been brought in to ‘rescue the team’ are struggling – one manager has already been sacked (after 8 weeks in charge), at least two more are in the ‘last chance saloon’, and that’s before we pay any attention to the David Moyes situation at Manchester United.
It has been a football extravaganza over the past couple of weeks. I for one have been glued to the tv – watching the drama unfold over the crazy Christmas schedule and the upsets of the FA Cup – there have been many highs and lows for all concerned – the teams, the managers and of course us, the fans.
So with the season now past the halfway point, this is where the drama really starts to unfold and we begin to see the stress and strains of the Premier League run in, and what will prove to be make or break for a lot of teams. But before the hullabaloo really gets going, lets look back on the first half of the 2013/14 season and the story so far (Part 1) –
The gunners came out the gate running (in August), and caught many teams by surprise. They remain at the top of the table, but how long will they maintain this position? Theo Walcott is out for six months and their list of injuries continues to grow. The next few weeks will be critical to their title challenge and their fortunes may depend on their dealings in the Transfer window and how they perform during the crunch games against the bigger teams. I believe they will finish in the top four, but they will not be champions this season.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; it is still the embodiment of Christmas, told the world over. So what better way to celebrate the festive season with a Premier League version of the classic story.
The Christmas Premier League schedule is the busiest part of the season, games come thick and fast, teams travel up and down the country and if they are lucky players and the managers get at least Christmas day off to eat some turkey, enjoy several helpings of Christmas pudding, pull a cracker or two before collapsing in a heap and watching the Queens Christmas Message.
It is the managers who bear the brunt of the seasonal stress, so let us dedicate the Premier League Christmas Carol to them.
Bob Cratchit – Roberto Martinez (Everton) – Okay so he is not in such a pitiful situation that Cratchit was – overworked, underpaid – but he is dealing with a stingy chairman who offers very little in the way of money to buy new players.
When David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson many believed it would be business as usual – teams would come to Old Trafford expecting to loose, Robin Van Persie would be the leagues leading goal scorer and the team would be top of the table and 6 points clear by Christmas.
But something has gone horribly wrong, instead we find a team closer on points to the relegation zone than they are to the top of the table, have lost more games so far than they did for the whole of last season, goals are not coming easily and it is Arsenal who are 5 points clear at the top of the table going into the busy Christmas schedule.
After Manchester United 4-1 defeat, what next for David Moyes?
Loosing to 4-1 to Manchester City and being out played is one thing, but losing 4-1 and being totally humiliated is another. From the first minute Manchester Utd looked flat – it is the manager’s job to have the team ready, and they were far from it. The woeful Ashley Young continues to be in the team ahead of Nani and Zaha, and quite frankly he was appalling, if he continues to hold a place in the starting eleven serious questions will have to be asked.
Other questions from Sundays performance that need addressing are – with Manchester United being completely outplayed in the midfield after twenty minutes, why wait until after the start of the second half to change the formation? Why was Jesus Navas allowed to run three quarters of the pitch without a single Manchester Utd player attempting to make a challenge? Why have they failed to score a single goal from open play since the first game of the season? How was Manchester United so tactically inadequate? And is Mr Moyes up to the job?
This week saw David Moyes arrive at Old Trafford with his trusted lieutenants at his side and begin the unenviable task taking over from Sir Alex. There is no such thing as dipping a toe in to test the temperature of the water, more like having to dive in headfirst without even having time to take your socks off.
Firstly – bring over your coaching staff – Steve Round, as assistant manager, Jimmy Lumsden, coach, and Chris Woods, goal-keeping coach –from previous club, Everton. “I have worked with Steve, Chris and Jimmy for a number of years and I am delighted they have decided to join me at this great club,” said Moyes.
Next, promote Manchester United legend, Ryan Giggs, 39, into his first coaching role as player/coach, and appoint former Man Utd player, Phil Neville, 36, as first team coach.
Then deal with the futures of Wyane Rooney, Captain, Nemanja Vidic (who has 12 months left on his contract), and Vice Captain, Patric Evra – it is rumored all three may leave the club.
On Thursday meet the team and take charge of the first training session with the new players. And finally on Friday – take part in the first press conference and begin to feel the enormity of how much pressure the new role will bring, while facing a room packed with journalists and tv crews, who will broadcast every word globally.
Next week will be a little easier – Wednesday, jet out with the team for what will be the longest tour in the clubs history, covering 23,260 miles.
On August 11 (after matches in Sweden, along with a Testimonial game for Rio Ferdinand being thrown in there), try and win the first trophy as Man Utd manager against Wigan at Wembley Stadium in the Charity Shield.
Then and only then, on August 17th, take charge of the first Premier League game, on August 17th, away against Swansea.
And if that isn’t enough try and deal with the pressure that comes with having previous manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, in the background, who has promised to try and keep out of the way to relieve some of the pressure.
Lets hope Mr Moyes is good at holding his breath while swimming, it maybe a longtime before he gets chance to come up for air.
What is it with Everton, the perpetual party poopers. Last year, on April 22nd, their shock come back from 4-2 away to Manchester United to draw 4-4 arguably cost Man Utd the title.
At the end of the season Alex Ferguson was quoted as saying “If I had to pick out one single match where we lost our title it would have to be that game”
This year they have done it again, this time to Manchester Utd’s noisy neighbors, Manchester City. Coming into the game on Saturday March 16th City trailed Utd by 12 points, and only a win would do. However, Everton were in no mood to hand over the points and comfortably beat the champions 2-0, a result, many believe will signal the end of Manchester City’s attempt to close the gap.
Everton and their manager David Moyeshave won five of the past seven Premier League matches against Manchester City since Italian manger Roberto Mancini took over in December 2009. This means that Mancini has lost more times to Moyes than to any other manager in the league. One can only guess that Moyes has a point to prove, and prove it he does extremely well.
With a squad costing a fraction of what City’s cost to assemble, the man of the match was Everton’s Seamus Coleman. He cost $90,000 from Sligo Rovers and set about stifling (with huge success) the $200m worth of midfield and striking talent that Man City threw up against him.
Mancini is determined to cut the point’s deficit ahead of next month’s derby against Manchester United, but with a result like this, the championship may already be well and truly over.
With Mancini too angry to talk to the press after the game, the post-match interview was left to Cities assistant manager, David Platt. When Platt was asked what the manager was so angry about, he calmly replied “everything in general”.
As for Everton, the result cemented their status as the team nobody likes to play – especially if its springtime and you are in contention for the title.