NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON'T(?)
Mickey Blue Eyes
In a few weeks time we will know if David Moyes will sign a new contract and stay as our manager.
So let me nail my colours to the mast: if he goes, it will be a football disaster for Us; We will not strike as lucky again. The chances of a lightning bolt in the same Goodison place are infinitesimal. David Moyes is that good, potentially even great. If he goes, Our future prospects would be debatable at best. Even I, an eternal optimist, fear the worst. In our present financial circumstances he is, for all his faults, as near irreplaceable as it gets. By now it is pretty much universally recognised that the partnership he has (had?) with Bill Kenwright has saved the club from football demise. Only incandescent stupidity can think otherwise. His record speaks for itself and needs no repetition here. But perhaps events have simply run their course. Nothing is eternal.
I fear the managerial merry-go-round may have already started. Speculating wildly, I see Mourinho to Chelsea, Villas Boas to Real Madrid......and Moyesy to Tottenham Hotspur. I hope I am (equally wildly) wrong, and not just for the sake of Everton. He still has unfinished work here, still a trophy to win. Leaving now would probably leave him with a nagging feeling he should have completed the job. Furthermore, I doubt he would have the same complete control elsewhere. If he thinks our financial constraints are tight - and they are, very - they are as nothing compared to the caprices of a frustrated spendthrift ownership. All informed fans could provide you with a list of examples as long as your arm.
None of this is to make more of the man than he is. He has his faults. He has made bad mistakes. Who among us hasn't? Which football manager or administrator ever born has been free of them? Answer: none. Despite that he has stabilised the club and restored playing hope, even expectation, where previously for six long years we were threatened with relegation thanks to the unlamented tenure of Peter Johnson and the managers he appointed. That the club was turned around in a few short years and back in Europe was to the vast credit of David Moyes and his working relationship with Bill Kenwright, and it happened at exactly the right time for the two of them. And, happily, for Us. I shudder to think where We could have been football-wise.
If he goes, We will be faced with another highly critical moment. There is as much a gamble with any managerial appointment as there is with any player transfer. Quite rightly, any new manager will have his own ideas and will want his own coaching staff, as did David Moyes. Invariably the early years of a new regime are a profound change naturally reflected on the playing field and in results. At such times money isn't necessarily the cure for all ills, but of course the talent and character of the manager is crucial.
Which is why when Moyesy arrived eleven long years ago it could all have gone spectacularly wrong: he was young, inexperienced at the top level, had inherited an ageing (perhaps cynical?) squad, our stadium was - is - out of date, our training facilities were primitive to say the least, and of course he had to husband carefully what little money was available for players. Yet together with Kenwright he squeezed, nay stripped, every last asset we had to get what we have now. That included merciless use of players' talents before selling them on, invariably at a small profit. They had to; there is no free lunch in life, let alone in our dominant rat-eat-rat economy. History counts for nothing, the game virtually bankrupt despite incredible money flowing through it. We are all borrowed-up, cannot get necessary loans to break out of our current limits and certainly nobody is going to give us money, which is why forthcoming increased TV money will provide only temporary respite.
Despite all of that David Moyes has got us to the level where we expect to qualify for European competition and win either the League Cup or the FA Cup. Despite all of that Everton football for the last couple of years has often been quite brilliant, if maddeningly staccato and incomplete, lacking only a consistent striker and a strong midfield player. By almost every measure the achievement has been phenomenal. Ten years ago, it was usual to hear apprehensive Evertonians (rightly) ask, "Where will we be in ten years time?" Well, here We are, lucky Us. Sure, frustratingly, it could be marginally better. But it could easily be so much worse. To deny David Moyes and everyone at the club their due merit is an insult to civilised intelligence, let alone to common courtesy.
Sadly, my guess is he has already made up his mind and he is about to leave. If that is accurate he is probably already in the process of fine tuning things. Still, for him it would be a leap in the dark, a probable chance to see how he fares with more transfer money, with no guarantee it would work out. I think the manner of the Wigan Cup defeat probably decided him. I certainly know the mood of the fans toward him changed, perhaps decisively. If so, it is likely he has already held talks with his next club, whoever it may be. And if so, nobody could blame him. He has committed eleven years of his working life to Everton, a long time in any job. He has fulfilled his side of the bargain, as have the club. The gains have been mutual and profound for both parties. If he goes, it would be only an utter churl who did not wish him good luck.
If he goes, you might as well ready yourself too for the inevitable media circus vicariously living off the backs of genuine sports achievement. The disgusting and sordid round of London-based media will vomit its worthless, jobsworth tabloid ugliness all over the event. Journalists, especially the London spawn of the species, are one of the groups I always assume guilty before innocent. God knows they have it coming. They never learn that not only are they not wanted, they are not needed. Fortunately, social media have brought them to the verge of redundancy.
For Us the situation would be a real problem. Of course his departure would not be terminal. The club will still go on. However, I do not envy the task of choosing the next manager. A wrong choice could easily bankrupt the club and see it plummet once again - that is how fraught matters are these days - which means a temptation to appoint a "safe" name and reduce the gamble. And there are plenty of journeyman managers out there, tired if honourable names not really wanted by the fans. It will not be easy. There will always be an element of chance in it. But who has the right mix of ability, enthusiasm and vigour to make a breakthrough and take the club to the level We all want? Just as important, who can We afford?
Whatever happens, We owe David Moyes a great deal. The least We can do is thank him for saving Us from football ignominy. He can take tremendous pride in that achievement against great odds. And that is why I hope he stays.