Everton have consistently performed outside the means in recent seasons, and Simon Legg believes the plaudits belong to the man on the touchline
By SIMON LEGG
In his 10 years at the helm of Everton, David Moyes has continually brought stability and success.
Life as an English Premier League manager is a tough one and many struggle to see out a season, let alone a decade.
To put it in perspective, of all the managers in English football currently, only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have longer tenures at their current club.
Over time, he has seen countless players leave for greener pastures, most notably a then-teenage wonderkid called Wayne Rooney, who left his boyhood club to challenge for big trophies at Manchester United.
Many have described just how tough it was on Arsenal to lose Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri at the beginning of the last Premier League campaign, and rightly so.
However, many forget that the man brought into replace Fabregas was Mikel Arteta, arguably the most important player in the Everton system at the time.
Arteta was the glue that held the midfield together for David Moyes, taking set pieces and spraying passes around the pitch. But suddenly - at the beginning of a new campaign - he was gone from Everton.
But Moyes has continually replaced important players with shrewd buys. In his tenure, he has brought in the likes of Phil Neville, Marouane Fellaini, Tim Howard, Steven Pienaar, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott [sold to Manchester City for around £22 million], Nikica Jelavic and of course, an Australian named Tim Cahill.
When Moyes took over from the sacked Walter Smith in March 2002, Everton sat precariously in 17th place, with only goal difference separating them from the relegation zone.
Incredibly, Moyes lifted Everton to a very respectable 15th place on the back of winning three out of his first four games in charge - no mean feat given the circumstances.
His greatest achievement to date came during the 2004-05 season, when he shocked the football world by guiding the Toffees to fourth position and a Champions League playoff spot.
It was also the first time the club had finished above rivals Liverpool in the Premier League era.
The key to success for Moyes that season was the disciplined and structured 4-1-4-1 formation that he integrated. Prior to that season, he cleverly re-built the squad by bringing in Marcus Bent, Cahill, James Beattie and Mikel Arteta [on loan]. All of those signings went on to have an instant impact.
Against all odds, Moyes has turned the club into a regular European contender.
During his time, they have finished fifth on two occasions, fourth and sixth once, and seventh on three occasions. Incredibly, he has done so by not spending inordinate amounts of money.
In the last decade, Everton have spent less than Newcastle, West Ham, Aston Villa, Tottenham and Sunderland and have been consistently more successful.
When the Premier League era began in 1992, Everton were viewed as one of the big clubs, just below the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.
That perception gradually changed as Everton claimed just one top-10 finish in the following 10 seasons, right up to Moyes' appointment.
As another new Premier League season takes shape, the Toffees possibly look better than they ever have been under Moyes, gathering two impressive wins from two starts, the most notable being a dour 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
They have lost key players Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell but the squad is strengthened by the return of Steven Pienaar and new signing Kevin Mirallas, who had a dream first start against Leyton Orient on Wednesday, scoring two goals and setting up two more.
As Moyes’ credentials grow, he will become ever more sought after.
But as long as he is in charge of Everton, Toffees fans across the world can feel safe under his watch.