As David Moyes prepares to take on arguably the biggest job in football, many of the estimated 75 million fans worldwide must wonder whether he has the pedigree and experience required. Here's a quick look at the striking parallels between his current position at Everton and the role he will take over from July 1 will show that he has prospered in very similar circumstances, although on a smaller scale.
As at Everton, Moyes will be taking over the longer-established, or senior club of two fierce local rivals. The perspicacity that famously won over the blue half of Merseyside when he accurately identified Everton as "the people's club in Liverpool" within hours of his arrival will stand him in good stead when dealing with both the vociferous United fans and those of his big-spending local rivals. As Liverpool's transfer spending has dwarfed that of Everton (Liverpool have spent an astonishing 22 times more than Everton on transfer fees in the last 10 years), Manchester City have the ability to outspend United, although the allure of playing for the country's most successful club somewhat ameliorates the attraction City's superior finances bring, as the signing of Robin van Persie demonstrates. As is the case on Merseyside, the lower-spending club is currently the higher-placed in the league. Unlike Everton, however, Moyes will be taking over a club where the vast majority of fans live oversees and rarely get the opportunity to attend games.
Although the ability to make a profit in the transfer market may not be as important at Manchester United as in his current role, Moyes has shown a knack of bringing in players cheaply and developing them into world class talent. Take Seamus Coleman for instance. Bought for £60,000 from Sligo Rovers in 2009 (that's an incredible 300 times cheaper than Liverpool's Glen Johnson), he has since established himself as a full Ireland international, and one of the most exciting young full backs inthe Premier League. Likewise, Leighton Baines has developed from a £5 million signing to possibly the best left back in the world. Moyes recouped £39 million in transfer fees from Manchester City for Jack Rodwell (known as Jack "sideways and back" by the locals at Goodison for his cagey passing style) and Joleon Lescott alone, after an outlay of a mere £5 million, and it is fair to say has spent very wisely over the years. His record signing, Marouane Fellaini was bought for £15 million in 2008, before the rest of the football world had awakened to the abundance of talent being produced in Belgium. Winger Kevin Miralles was to join the Goodison outfit for what looks like a bargain £5 million last year. United fans can expect to see the arrival of thoroughly well-scouted young talent in the next few months, who will be tied to long contracts and supported in their development.
Moyes is widely respected by the press core for his objective analysis of his team's and his opponents' performances, as well as his consistently honest appraisal of contentious events on the field. When Fellaini punched and head-butted Stoke's Ryan Shawcross this December, Moyes criticised the midfielder and stated the club would accept any punishment given by the FA. At the same time, Moyes does not suffer fools gladly and is always ready with an acerbic response to poorly thought-out questions or inaccurate comments from the press.
As a former central defender for Glasgow Celtic and Preston North End, Moyes builds his teams from the back and has a generally defensive mindset. A glance at the league table so far shows how effective this has been, with Everton losing fewer games than any other team outside Manchester. Fans can expect his teams to play with at least one defensive midfielder in a 4-5-1 formation.
While this may sound rather dour, the upside of this is that the full backs are given license to push forward while the centre backs shuffle across to cover them and a midfielder will drop into the back line. At the same time, Moyes promotes partnerships along the wings with Baines and Steven Pienaar forging an almost telepathic understanding down the left, and Coleman and Miralles developing a sound partnership down the right for Everton. This allows his team to create "overload" situations of 2 v 1 or 3 v 2 down the wings.
Up front, Moyes has drawn criticism from the Goodison faithful for playing strikers out of position; Jelavic, Anichibe and even Wayne Rooney have all played on the wings for Everton. This has however most likely been a result of having a very small squad and limited attacking options; it is hard to see Van Persie hugging the line at Old Trafford. Much more likely will be a solid defense/midfield used as a springboard allowing the world class attacking options at Manchester United free reign to terrorise the opposition, while stifling any counter attacks.
To sum up, Manchester United fans can expect to see an experienced, highly motivated manager adept at dealing with the press, players and supporters. He will make Manchester United extremely difficult to beat and maintain the proud tradition of developing exciting young players and bringing them into the first team. He will be sadly missed at the People's Club, but his contribution fondly remembered. As the Goodison faithful have sung for years: "He's got red hair, but we don't care, Davey, Davey Moyes!"