After David Moyes’ sacking by Manchester United last week, anyone who knew nothing about football would think he achieved diddly-squat at Everton, having read much of the press. And that the Merseyside club’s current position is all down to his successor, Roberto Martinez.
It doesn’t seem to matter that most of the squad are players who were nurtured and then played under Moyes. It’s obvious that he laid down the foundations for Martinez to flourish, particularly in defence, an area of the pitch where the Spaniard had found things difficult to make work at Wigan Athletic.
If we were to put together a combined XI of Moyes’ two most recent clubs then the amount of players taken from each side would be a very close-knit affair. My combined XI would consist of David de Gea, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, Leighton Baines, Leon Osman, Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata, Ross Barkley, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
Everyone’s team would be different, but that’s six Everton players to United’s five. There’s no doubt in my mind about my selections from the Goodison Park outfit, especially in defence. And they were all brought in by Moyes (not forgetting that Rooney developed under his stewardship as well).
Martinez never quite got to grips with the defensive side of the game at Wigan, but he was lucky enough to inherit a settled group on Merseyside. Credit where credit’s due, he’s made it work for himself, while other managers may not have done, and he has also got the whole team playing a much more exciting type of football than what his predecessor mustered.
But maybe they were building up to being able to carry it out whether with Moyes or Martinez. And with Everton in fifth place with two matches left, a point behind fourth placed Arsenal having played a game more, and only three ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in sixth, the season could well end up being one that was a regular feature of Moyes’ reign.
If the Scotsman had a hold of his former side with the loaned additions of Gerard Delofeu, Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukalu and Lacina Traore, it is likely he would have guided them to a very similar position to where they are now under Martinez. Player for player, the difference between Everton and United may not be nine points – as it is in the league at the moment – but with mine, and other people’s, first choice 11 comprising of
personnel from the two sides, it would not be far off. And that speaks volumes for how the Red Devils have fared this season.
It’s a matter of opinion of course, but it would be hard to argue after seeing some of the performances this campaign. It’s also not such a far fetched thing to say that despite United winning the title last year, some of Everton’s players as individuals performed
better than their counterparts at Old Trafford – the contrasts between Baines and Patrice Evra for example. Many of Everton’s shining lights this season have been players who were either not there under Moyes like Lukaku and co, or were just coming through the ranks that the ‘Chosen One’ had much to do with transforming. The likes of Barkley and John Stones were loaned out during his tenure and would have been ready to make their mark this season, whether Moyes was there to hand it to them or not.
Everton are arguably playing more attractive football now while Manchester United were pretty abysmal under Moyes, with players who either didn’t put in the effort for him or happened to reach a point at the same time where their engines broke down (Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Evra the three obvious candidates). Despite this blot in his
career let us not forget what Moyes did in steadying the ship at Everton (who had, more often than not, been fighting relegation since the start of the 1990s) then guided them from a metaphorical gloomy docklands to not quite the Promised Land but one that was very pleasant and in view of it. People should not forget the storms he steered them from.
How do you think Everton would have fared under David Moyes this season? And which club has got the better first team – player for player?
Let me know your thoughts.