David Moyes likely needs a bigger club to match his ambition, and Arsenal could make a good fit for the current Everton manager.
Of course, most managers think that bigger and better awaits them. But of all the youngish guns in Premier League management, 49-year-old Moyes has more reason than most to believe he’s ready for prime time.
Approaching the 11th anniversary of his arrival at Everton, the Scot can reflect on a job well done. His team has only twice finished outside the Premier League top 10, and, in 2005, earned a Champions League berth with a fourth place finish. Okay, a runner-up spot in the 2009 FA Cup is as close as he’s come to a trophy, but Everton’s reputation is solid, and its manager enjoys the respect of the game’s most experienced coaches.
To earn that status Moyes has had to box clever. Unable to throw money at a problem, due to Everton’s lack of a billionaire backer, his most expensive signing to date was Marouane Fellaini, who arrived from Belgium for a relatively modest 12 million pounds. Even when he has spent, Moyes has often had to sell to buy. And, while he’s suffered the occasional missed step, like nine million pound Russian flop Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, overall he’s had a knack for spotting talented but unpolished diamonds, such as Joleon Lescott, Tim Howard, Mikael Arteta, Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Nikica Jelavic.
What’s more, he’s often made them better. For example, he turned Howard from a Manchester United reject into one of best goalkeepers in the league. Indeed, Moyes has had an open door policy to Americans during his reign, offering trials to the likes of Edson Buddle and Josh Lambo, signing Brian McBride, Landon Donovan and Marcus Hahnemann and, more recently, narrowly failing to sign Geoff Cameron and Clint Dempsey.
So Moyes has a modern global outlook and an eye for a bargain. But, of course, no one wants to penny pinch for his entire career. And that’s why to realize his potential Moyes has to leave. For sure, he’s comfortable at Goodison, and stability shouldn’t be underrated. But ultimately, barring an elusive injection of exotic bucks, Everton has only the will to match his ambition, not the way.
So, where does he go? Well, Spain and Italy clearly aren’t on his radar and he doesn’t have sufficient glamor to shoot for the loot at PSG even if Carlo Ancellotti leaves the French outfit.
In Germany, the Bundesliga’s top job has been filled at Bayern by Pep Guardiola, and it’s hard to see a vacancy arising anywhere else that Moyes would consider a step up. Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp says he’s staying put, Schalke only hired Jens Keller in December, and Sami Hyypia’s partnership with Sascha Lewandowski is less than a year old at Bayer Leverkusen.
So that leaves the Premier League. But which club? United is out thanks to evergreen Alex Ferguson, to whom Moyes is most often likened. City? Well, Roberto Mancini says he’s the best boss in England at the moment, and, even if Sheik Mansour decides he’s not, City, like PSG, craves pizzazz, and Moyes is all business.
Liverpool, if he dared cross the great divide, is a work in progress, and Brendan Rodgers surely has at least another season to make it work. Tottenham is rightly happy with AVB. Chelsea is a poisoned chalice, and I’m struggling to see the forthright Scot join a club where policy is so completely dictated by the owner.
So that leaves Arsenal, a club in need of a breath of fresh air more than a radical overhaul. Think about it. Arsenal likes to save money. Moyes is used to economizing. Arsenal makes decent players better and sells them. Moyes makes decent players better and keeps them. Arsenal values long-term commitment. Moyes has proven staying power. Moyes’ teams play to their strengths, doing whatever’s legal to win. Arsenal is committed to one style, regardless of personnel, and can accept looking good while losing. Moyes puts Champions League qualification above the FA Cup. Arsenal considers Champions League qualification a “trophy”. For Moyes, the best could be yet to come. Arsenal, under Arsene Wenger, is living on a glorious past.
So, if the “Professor” does depart, in one way or another, David Moyes would not be a shabby replacement. No, he’s not Guardiola, Mourinho, Klopp or whatever glamorous continental you care to name, but he is a proven manager ready to ignite. And if that gets the Gunners firing again then Gooners the world over will take it.
Follow TERRY BADDOO on