Everton

3 Reasons Why™ Moyes At Spurs Simply Would Not Work

Current Everton manager David Moyes to replace the England-bound Harry Redknapp at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur. 

The rumour mill has been running with this one for quite some time now and has been furthered somewhat by the glorification of David Moyes’ ten years as manager of Everton football club. 

Naturally, the majority (but not all – if the fan web-sites are a true reflection of opinion) of the blue contigent on Merseyside would be devastated to see Moyes leave, but would he really be the right man for the Spurs job?

Personally I think it would be a bad move, both for Spurs and for Moyes himself and, if things go as I believe them to, he may ultimately be shipped out after a single unsuccessful season with the North London side.  Why?  Well, for three simple reasons.

 THE CLASH  Clearly there is a massive conflict between the stylish passing game Tottenham have employed to great effect in recent seasons, and Moyes’ typically dogged, defensively based tactics designed to pressurise and stop the opposition playing, implemented at Everton during his tenure. 

Redknapp and Moyes have an entirely different type and variety of player at their disposal and inevitably as a consequence have entirely different ways of playing the game, although both with relative degrees of success.  With few exceptions, Everton do not possess the class of player that Harry Redknapp currently has in his squad; with the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Raphael Van der Vaart and others, Spurs have players all over the pitch that can change a game and produce that individual spark of magic that can turn a match in their favour. 

Being able to harness that flair into a cohesive unit is a talent that few managers possess – notably Mourinho, Wenger and of course Guardiola.  Moyes has very limited experience of dealing with or managing this kind of player.  The only individuals during Moyes’ era that have fitted to this template have been Mikel Arteta and Wayne Rooney.  Rooney was sold to United after a short time at the club, but Arteta’s ability was often wasted in unfamiliar wide positions as a result of the lack of strength in depth at the club; thus limiting the influence he could have on the course of the game from a more favoured central midfield role.

The resources available.  At first sight this might appear a strange reason but let me explain.  Evidently, no manager in the world would protest against an increased financial kitty to play with.  Money makes the world go round, and money certainly means power in the modern game – witness the sudden rise of Manchester City following the mega investment from the Middle-East. 

This is the era of the billionaire philanthropist afterall; and the oligarchs of the world have targetted the footballing industry as their latest venture as a means to flash their cash.  It has been well documented that Everton have desperately searched for the aforementioned ‘Mr. Moneybags’ to walk into Goodison with the financial muscle to make us competitive once again. 

Financially we have been struggling, the Everton bank balance is not in good shape and as a result David Moyes has certainly been limited in the calibre of player he can bring in.  Undoubtedly he has worked wonders with the little funds made available with the astute aquisitions of Joleon Lescott, Leighton Baines, Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta to name but a few. 

He is a master of balancing the books and working within a tight budget.  These signings were gambles that paid off but maybe it is in finding and developing this type of player where Moyes’ strength lies.  They all have either risen from the lower leagues or been surplus to requirements at previous clubs.  In sharp contrast however, is Moyes’ transfer record in the market on the rare occasions he has had funds made available to him. 

 NAIVETY He has paid significant amounts for players who have become expensive bench-warmers and eventually moved on, usually for a lesser fee.  Here are some of Moyes’ less successful dips into the transfer market:

  • Diniyar Bilyaletdinov a Russian winger with reported great potential arrived at Everton for a fee believed to be in the region of £9 million in 2009, according to espn.  Despite having scored some spectacular goals, Diniyar spent most of his time on the subs bench and has since been shipped back to his homeland after an unsuccessful few years at the club.
  • Ayegbeni Yakubu  signed for the club in a deal worth £11.25 million, which then broke Everton’s transfer record.  His time at the club was hampered by injury and in the 4 years he spent in Merseyside, he made little over 50 league starts.
  • Per Kroldrup last and most definitely least, this Danish defender signed from Udinese for £5 million, made only one start for the club before leaving for a loss of £2 million.

There are exceptions obviously with both Marouane Fellaini and Johnny Heitinga, who have eventually shown there net worth of nearly £22 million; although both have taken a few seasons to really live up to there valuation and Heitinga, in particular, has found it difficult to dislodge the more workmanlike and dogged Jagielka from the starting line-up.

Moyes is a manager with an obvious philosophy concerning the way he likes his teams to play and this often dictates the sort of player he brings to the club.  With the exception of the likes of Arteta, Pienaar and perhaps now Drenthe, all of Moyes’ successful signings have generally been of the same mould; hard-working, determined and industrious players.  In stark contrast, as I have previously touched on, Tottenham have a plethora of tricky, quick and skillful players.  Moyes’ viewpoints on players were typified in a recent interview on Sky Sport’s Goal on Sunday, celebrating his decade in charge at Everton FC.  Click here to see the video.

Would the challenge of taking on such a different style of player be too much for David Moyes to adapt to? Would his outlook on the game be too far away from the ethos of the current Spurs set-up?  I believe it would.  Further more, does Moyes possess the necessary skills to deal with the temperaments of such players and convince them to play to his way? Certainly the recent problems associated with Royston Drenthe and previous criticisms voiced by Louis Saha would suggest not.

 TACTICS Given the limited resources and the small playing squad Moyes has had to deal with, he has been a success.  Fact.  But it is also no secret that David Moyes is certainly not a master tactician and his lack of tacitical finesse (having a plan B) has often left Everton found wanting.  So far, Moyes has been able to hide behind Everton’s lack of funds and scarcity of higher-class players, meaning he has been able to ‘do wonders with what has been available to him’ or ‘get the best out of a mediocre set of players’.

Moyes also has a secure position at Everton meaning the pressure to maintain positive results is not there; would the expectation to win most weeks be too much for Moyes to handle?  At Spurs, he would be managing an abudance of talent, be able to bring in players that wouldn’t just merely make up the numbers and therefore would have to adapt tactics to suit the team he had.  Here is where Moyes could be found out.

Too many times at Everton has he adopted the wrong formation, the incorrect tactics and made ludricious or desperate substitutions at the most unsuitable times.  Fans only had to watch the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool, and in fact most games against the Reds in recent seasons, to witness his lack of tactical prowess.  At times it seems any success is due to the ability of the current Everton side to perform in spite of Moyes’ tactical decisions rather than because of them.

Who knows whether Moyes will stay at Everton this summer or in fact move to replace Harry Redknapp, who may as well hand back his Spurs duffle coat to chairman Daniel Levy.  It is undeniable that Everton have had somewhat of a resurgence under Moyes compared to what was ten years ago a faltering, relegation haunted team, lacking in confidence.  They have been in Europe or in contention at least for most of Moyes’ time at the club.

Because of this, it would only be natural for him to be linked to more high profile jobs, such as the one that looks to be opening up at White Hart Lane this summer.  But I believe Moyes suits and thrives on the title of the under-dog and is a brilliant manager when given strict limitations as to what he can do at a club.  If he goes to Tottenham then good luck to him, he will need it if he goes, because I believe it could only be a matter of time before his limitations are exposed.

All this said, even if Spurs threw all the money, prestige, promise of European football at the Scotsman, it is still questionable as to whether he would take up the opportunity.  Moyes has as secure a position at Everton as anyone, probably only surpassed by the likes of Ferguson and Wenger, with the complete backing of the chairman Bill Kenwright, and the adoration of the majority of the fan base.

Such managerial security is a rareity in football today and it would require an overiding ambition and supreme self-confidence to leave.  There is however another possibility.

Since the day Sir Alex uttered Moyes’ name as a potential successor at United, I think David has been counting down the days until Fergie retires.  So as Moyesy crosses off each day on his calender waiting for Fergie’s resignation, I think blues fans can rest easy for the time being.  He won’t be going anywhere, at least not down south.


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