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Old 18th April 2009, 11:23   #1
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Default Moyes determined to put one over his mentor

David Moyes determined to put one over his mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson
Matt Dickinson, Chief Sports Correspondent The Times
April 18, 2009

What could, at one time, be called the blue-collar heartlands of Scottish industry have produced many of the great British football men. It is far too early to be putting David Moyes alongside Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham and Kenny Dalglish, but, even though he cannot post a single significant trophy, that mighty convocation would surely recognise the Everton manager as one of their own.

From Moyes’s clear blue eyes burns a steely determination so hard and unyielding that it might have been forged in the Clyde shipyards where his father worked. Whether the irresistible force of his work ethic will be capable of overcoming the immovable object of a Manchester United team seeking an historic quintuple in tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final is questionable, but Moyes will get there in the end. He knows it.

“Everton and David Moyes will win trophies because perseverance and persistence will get us through,” he says, those bright eyes blazing. “I hope it’s going to be this time, but, if not, it will be soon.”

There is a theory that Moyes’s trophy haul will start when he becomes the next manager of United as Ferguson’s hand-picked successor, but he is not so presumptuous. “Who was linked with the United job last year, two years ago?” he asks. “Mark Hughes, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce. It just depends what moment you are at. It changes every year.

“The best thing that could happen is if Alex stays around for another three or four years. He is a flag-bearer for us all. He’s the greatest export from Scotland, apart from the whisky.”

If this all supports the theory that Moyes and Ferguson have some kind of special bond, then the Everton manager is more than happy to clarify the links between the two men that stretch back to their roots by the Clyde and the shipyards where Ferguson worked as a tool-maker’s apprentice, Moyes’s father as a draughtsman.

“He’s from Govan, I was from Partick originally, which is like the other side of the Mersey,” Moyes says. “We are from different eras — I’m closer in age to his son — but I guess you can say both areas produce real hard, working-class people, and that’s how we’d both see ourselves. If people say ‘David Moyes is doing well’, that’s because I work hard. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

The links between Ferguson and Moyes would thread through Drumchapel Amateurs, the youth club where Ferguson learnt his skills as a robust forward and where Moyes’s father was one of the coaches. Standing by his dad’s side, Moyes was picking up valuable lessons in management and, while he had a respectable career as a rangy centre half, he had an eye on coaching — with Ferguson a notable role model.

“I was a player at Celtic when he was at Aberdeen and I’d be sitting on the bench as a substitute watching him,” Moyes says. “I can remember seeing the passion, the drive. I didn’t know him that well, but you could see how focused, how intense he was.”

Having taken his first badges by the age of 22, Moyes was well set to move into coaching when his playing days ended at Preston North End in 1998. Having become manager, he made a sufficient reputation that he was on a two-man shortlist when Ferguson needed a new assistant in 1999. There should have been plenty to discuss, given their shared backgrounds, but Moyes remembers the meeting as less a chat, or even a job interview, more as a lecture.

“Basically he was telling me what the job would be, what was expected,” Moyes says. “I was sitting there, jaw open wide, wanting to get it and take as much information as I could. At that time I was quite deep into management, but an opportunity to have worked with Sir Alex would have been a hard one to turn down.”

The role went to Steve McClaren, but a year later Moyes ended up back on the other side of Ferguson’s desk when he felt sufficiently emboldened to call the United manager for advice. Offered the manager’s position at Sheffield Wednesday, who were in the top flight at the time, Moyes was unsure whether to jump. Within an hour of phoning Ferguson he was sitting at the United training ground.

Ferguson picked up the squad lists for both clubs and went through each player. “He knew them all,” Moyes recalls. “His advice was to stay at Preston. And I did.”

It was to prove the right call as Moyes led Preston from English football’s third tier to the brink of the top flight, securing his move in 2002 to Everton, where he can become the “Moyessiah” if he leads the club to their first trophy since 1995, when they won the FA Cup. The difficulty of that task hardly needs underlining, but Everton are the only team in this weekend’s semi-finals who are not Champions League semi-finalists.

Moyes’s Everton were the last team to break into the closed shop of the top four, a feat that seems even more remarkable given that he did so within a relatively minuscule transfer budget and a wage bill with the best-paid player on £50,000 a week.

He overcomes these hurdles with shrewd tactics — at one stage during an injury crisis Moyes was winning matches with an enforced 4-6-0 formation — but mostly by astute signings.

It is unlikely that any manager goes to as many matches as Moyes. The week before we meet, he travelled to Belgium on Saturday, Switzerland on Wednesday, then Yorkshire for a lower-league game. “I was worse when I was younger, five or six years ago,” he says. “I’ve always felt part of the job is to get out and have a look. And it’s my hobby. My dad used to take me when I was two, three years old. I would go with him to the games at Drumchapel when I was 6, 7.” Such diligence has brought its rewards. Players plucked from the lower divisions and turned into bona fide internationals include Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Tim Cahill, a £1.5 million purchase from Millwall.

And then there is the on-loan arrival of Jô, a £19 million misfit at Manchester City who has been banging in goals for Everton and will be missed tomorrow because he is Cup-tied. Typically of Moyes, he had scouted the forward when he was at CSKA Moscow — “yes, I went over just to see him” — but had lost out to City’s greater riches in the summer.

Even attempting to sign a Brazil forward tells of a more expansive approach by Moyes now that Everton are established in the top half of the table. “When I took over, Everton were in the bottom five,” he says. “Now we’re mostly around the top five. We have been trying to evolve how we play. Players like [Steven] Pienaar, Yakubu [Ayegbini] — it’s gone away from where we were.”

Yet still it feels as though Moyes, who turns 46 next week, must do much more to prove that he is ready for a club such as United. Victory tomorrow would only be the start. “How many managers get a chance to work with the top boys?” he says. “You have to earn that right. José Mourinho earned that with what he did at Porto. I think the winning of a trophy, maybe people think that’s the point. But I see that only as part of where I want to go.

“I wouldn’t mind the pressure [of managing a club such as United]. I thought I would be under pressure when I went to Everton. Leaving Preston, I thought, ‘Gee whiz.’ But I have always been loyal to the clubs I am at. The supporters have been very loyal to me. I’ve been seven years and they’ve been great to me. Hopefully we can all get some reward because even this run to the semi-finals has been done the hard way.”

They had to beat Liverpool, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough to reach Wembley and face a United team on a mighty quest. It should make for an intriguing encounter, not least on the sidelines, and just to prove that there is nothing unusually chummy about his relationship with Ferguson, Moyes recalls an explosive exchange at Goodison Park a few years ago.

“We had a few Glaswegian words between us. But that was fine,” he says. “We still had a drink, like boxers shaking hands after the fight. Alex carries his position with great dignity, but he wants to win for his club and he would kick your granny to do that.”

Having benefited from Ferguson’s wisdom, Moyes reveals that he resolved always to take calls from up-and-coming managers. One was Darren Ferguson, son of Alex, now thriving at Peterborough United.

“That told me a bit about Darren,” Moyes says. “He’s got the best book to look at in his dad, but he’s seeing if there’s another way.” The Scottish line of succession appears in good hands.

The people's champion

by Kaveh Solhekol

David Moyes, born in Glasgow on April 25, 1963, was an unremarkable central defender who played for seven clubs, including Celtic and Preston North End. The highlight of his playing career was winning a Scottish league championship medal with Celtic in the early 1980s.

Moyes made himself unpopular in the red part of Merseyside on his first day as manager at Goodison Park in 2002 by claiming that Liverpool was full of Everton supporters. “I am from a city [Glasgow] that is not unlike Liverpool,” he said. “I am joining the people’s football club. The majority of people you meet on the street are Everton fans. It is a fantastic opportunity, something you dream about. I said ‘yes’ right away.”

He started taking his coaching badges when he was 22 and throughout his playing career he kept detailed notes about the coaching techniques of his managers.

In 2001 Moyes was approached by Manchester United to become Sir Alex Ferguson’s No 2— the job went to Steve McClaren instead.

Moyes was linked with Middlesbrough, Southampton, Birmingham City and West Ham United before he left Preston to join Everton in March 2002

Since Joe Royle and Everton lifted the FA Cup 14 years ago, only one manager and team have prevented the “big four” of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool from winning it — Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth last season.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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