Twist of fate puts Moyes up against for­mer club

Sun­der­land man­ager could well have been in charge for der­bies in Manch­ester or Glas­gow


FOR David Moyes, the big­gest of a week­end of big games is yet to come. Had things tran­spired dif­fer­ently, the 53-year-old Scot might have had an ac­tive in­volve­ment in ei­ther the Glas­gow derby or the Manch­ester one, but in­stead all the Sun­der­land man­ager’s en­er­gies are con­sumed by the small mat­ter of tak­ing on an­other of his for­mer teams, Ever­ton, at the Sta­dium of Light tonight.

Moyes can­not help but look back af­fec­tion­ately on the 11 suc­cess­ful years he spent on Mersey­side, even if com­par­isons with those Good­i­son Park days get him into trou­ble from time to time. While he was blessed to in­herit quite an eclec­tic se­lec­tion of se­nior pro­fes­sion­als from Wal­ter Smith – it in­cluded the likes of Paul Gas­coigne, Dun­can Fer­gu­son, Thomas Gravesen and David Weir – Moyes per­formed quiet mir­a­cles with Bill Ken­wright’s £5 mil­lion an­nual trans­fer bud­get. He made them peren­nial top eight fin­ish­ers in the Bar­clays Premier League and was de­servedly re­warded with the move to Old Traf­ford. Then things started to get more com­pli­cated.

Not only did some se­nior play­ers at Manch­ester United re­port­edly take um­brage at the Scots­man re­peat­edly hark­ing back to his days at Good­i­son, feel­ing per­haps that they were above all that, in fact it was a “painful” 2-0 de­feat at his old stomp­ing ground in April 2014 which sealed Moyes’ fate in the Old Traf­ford hot-seat. Thank­fully at­tempt­ing to recre­ate Ever­ton’s suc­cesses at Sun­der­land, a club locked in a pat­tern of short-ter­mism and in dire need of the Scot’s canny as­sured ste­ward­ship, seems to be more on-mes­sage.

“I don’t want to come in here, bang­ing the drum all the time, say­ing that we are like Ever­ton, we are like Ever­ton,” said Moyes, whose side claimed their first point against Southamp­ton im­me­di­ately be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break.

“But all I can say is that if we can fol­low that, we won’t be far away. It’s a club I’ve got real fond mem­o­ries of from the day I started, even though I got lost on the way to the train­ing ground on the first morn­ing!

“I feel as though, be­cause I have had a cou­ple of clubs now, I can set a team up to get a re­sult, if that is what you are look­ing for,” he added. “But if you are a Sun­der­land sup­porter I would think you would like to get a plan in place, a bit of an iden­tity, a jour­ney that we can go on. I am not us­ing that as an ex­cuse to say we are not try­ing to get re­sults right away. My aim is to be as high up the league this year as we pos­si­bly can. If I can do a Le­ices­ter in my own way, fin­ish­ing as high as pos­si­ble, then that is what I want to do.”

Moyes feels his old team at Ever­ton were one striker away from mount­ing a cred­i­ble Bar­clays Premier League chal­lenge. His suc­ces­sor Roberto Martinez fi­nally re­cruited him in the form of Romelu Lukaku, only for the Spa­niard to pre­side over an 11th place fin­ish which left Moyes’ Mersey­side legacy more fondly thought of with ev­ery pass­ing week. Iron­i­cally, Ron­ald Koe­man’s team are now cash rich when they ar­rive in town, with new owner Farhad Moshiri’s mil­lions sup­ple­mented by the £47.5m the club re­ceived from Manch­ester City for John Stones, a bar­gain buy from Barns­ley in one of Moyes’ last acts for the club.

“We were a cen­tre-for­ward miss­ing, I would say, and I might ex­ag­ger­ate a lit­tle bit, from be­ing a team that could chal­lenge to win the Premier League, we were that good,” said Moyes. “But we couldn’t get the fi­nances to get a striker in in my last two years.

“Def­i­nitely [I wish I had the money they have now] but to be fair Bill Ken­wright was al­ways look­ing for it, and al­ways try­ing to do it, and ev­ery penny he did have he gave it to me so I can never have any com­plaints. It was also a brilliant ed­u­ca­tion be­cause what I did have, I had to use and spend.”

As seems to be par for the course for him these days – even dur­ing his time when the Manch­ester United hi­er­ar­chy weren’t ex­actly pro­vid­ing him with play­ers of the cal­i­bre of Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic and Paul Pogba – Moyes is com­ing off a some­what un­der­whelm­ing trans­fer win­dow.

Suc­cess sto­ries in­cluded sign­ing Didier Ndong from Lori­ent, loan­ing Ja­son De­nayer from Manch­ester City and keep­ing Lamine Kone, although the club were un­able to con­clude a loan deal for Scot­land’s Steven Nai­smith. “It wasn’t just to do with money,” said Moyes. “We had some play­ers signed, which for var­i­ous rea­sons, we didn’t man­age to get them in. Sun­der­land has got the sta­dium, the set-up, what it hasn’t got is the league po­si­tion. I have to be the per­son that changes that.”

SCORE TO SET­TLE: Sun­der­land man­ager David Moyes will take on for­mer club Ever­ton in Premier League ac­tion tonight.

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