The inevitable has finally happened. Everton Football Club has announced that they will part company with long-serving manager David Moyes at the end of the season, a statement which has been expected since Sir Alex Ferguson declared his retirement from management.
As much as it pains Evertonians, there isn’t a blue soul out there that would seriously begrudge him this move. During his 11 years at the helm at Goodison, he took an ageing side battling relegation year-in, year-out, to a younger team that can, and has, battled for the top four. He’s managed on a severely tight budget, pulled out gems such as Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill for minuscule fees, and had Everton playing their best football in years.
If it wasn’t for a certain Pierluigi Collina ruining an evening in Spain in August 2005, things may have been different; more money would probably have been available, and the 2005/2006 season was deeply affected by the defeat in the Champions League. Even then, Moyes has taken the Blues to eight top-seven finishes in his eleven full seasons in charge, including two fifth-placed finishes, one in 2008/2009 where Everton were affected by a number of serious injuries to key players like Arteta, Yakubu and Jagielka.
But the alarm bells have been ringing for a while. Moyes never closed the door on an exit from Everton this season, consistently stating that he’ll “take a look at where we are at the end of the season”. It seems unreal that everything would fall into place as easily as this; could it be possible that Moyes had heard something from United earlier in the season, and then waited to see if the situation would be manufactured?
Possibly, and probably. But again, it would be impossible for any Evertonian in their right mind to have anything but good things to say about Moyes, after everything he has done for the club. The one thing he never got, though, that he so desperately deserved, was a medal and a trophy. On a few occasions it has been close; the FA Cup final defeat in 2009, semi-final defeats in the FA Cup and League Cup in 2012 and 2008, but it was never achieved. A shame really, as for all his endeavours as Everton manager, it would have capped everything off perfectly.
Ironic, therefore, how it seems that his departure has really been sealed since the humiliating defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup, two months ago to this day. That was the day when everything fell apart. It seemed as if Fellaini would be swiftly out of the door, suggestions even arose that Moyes would resign immediately. What a chance that was to win a trophy, further emphasised by the semi-final draw which would’ve have put us against Millwall, and following that, a final against Manchester City, against whom Moyes’ record is incredible; one defeat against them since 2007.
Maybe surprising, therefore, that Manchester United have opted for a man with as little as a Division 2 promotion with Preston North End on his CV. Especially when the likes of José Mourinho and Jürgen Klopp are available. In reality, though, is there really a better candidate? He has the perfect attributes to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson; fiery, tactically efficient, and possibly most important for next season, the edge over Manchester City.
For Everton, though, life has to go on. The club was formed in 1878, not 2002. Things have to change, and Bill Kenwright shouldn’t be scared to make a bold appointment, like he did when making the relatively unknown Moyes manager, despite battling relegation from the Premier League over eleven years ago.
It seems that Roberto Martinez is the favourite so far, ignoring whatever Dave Whelan has to say on the matter. However, to take a chance on someone like Alan Stubbs, who has a very good record with the Everton Under-21s, and even more significantly has blue blood pumping through his veins, would not be the worst thing. Neil Lennon though, would be suicide; the last thing Everton need at the moment is to become as hated as the team across Stanley Park.
For David Moyes, next season brings the prospect of Champions’ League football and a challenge to defend Sir Alex Ferguson’s title. For Everton, who knows?