It's looking more and more likely like Tottenham Hotspur will fire Tim Sherwood and will be looking for a replacement for next season. In this series, the writers of Cartilage Free Captain take in-depth looks at various managers who might be candidates for the Spurs managerial position. In this edition, I take a look at David Moyes.
David Moyes, former Manchester United and Everton manager
Career Record: 358-206-236 (44.58%), 1 Champions League qualification (2004, at Everton), 3 Europa League qualifications (2006-2009, at Everton), 1 pants-on-your-head crazy failure (2014, Manchester United)
Accomplishments: As Spurs fans, I'll assume that we're not including "driving Manchester United over a cliff" as an accomplishment. As manager of Everton, he turned a mid- to lower-table club consistently overshadowed by heavyweight neighbor Liverpool into Premier League stalwarts that consistently battle for European competition places. He spent 11 seasons at Everton, a club without deep pockets and who regularly lose their best players, and guided them to 10 top-half finishes and four finishes in the top six, including fourth place in 2004. He became known for squeezing every drop of effort and talent out of sides that shouldn't be nearly talented enough to finish where they did. He did well enough at Everton that Sir Alex Ferguson personally tapped him to be his successor at Manchester United, all but settling the crown upon his head. But, let's be honest, his time at Everton really isn't what we're judging him on today, is it?
Before He Was A Football Manager: Moyes had a professional career, though not an outstanding one, as a center back. The Glaswegian started at Celtic and played for such illustrious clubs as Cambridge United, Shrewsbury Town, Hamilton Academical, and Preston North End. Still, he had a 19 year career as a professional footballer, scoring 46 goals as a center back, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Tactical Analysis: Moyes has a reputation of being a reactive manager, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Moyes is known as one who scrupulously analysis his opponents and develops a tactical plan that neutralizes their main threats while playing to his side's strengths. His favored formation is 4-4-1-1, with a deep back line and an emphasis on counterattacking football. At United... he, well, pretty much played the same way, to his detriment. When you have a side like Everton's you can afford to sit back, probe defenses, and adjust. When you have a side like United's, the expectation is to play proactive football. And he didn't.
This Guy Sucks, Why Is He On the List? David Moyes has become English football's whipping boy after his disastrous stint as manager of Manchester United, and rightfully so, but it feels just a touch unfair. He was thrown into the deep end with a talented but aging and deeply flawed Manchester United team. You can certainly talk about Moyes' mistakes, and he made many of them: purchasing Marouane Fellaini, relying on Michael Carrick to carry the midfield, dumping Sir Alex's back room staff when he was hired, a perceived tone-deafness with the media, mishandling Shinji Kagawa and Robin Van Persie, etc. What became clear over the course of the season, however, is that this Manchester United team probably won the title last season due to Alex Ferguson's sheer force of will. Take away that dynamic presence and you should probably expect a drop-off with any manager, but that's simply unacceptable at a place like United. Moyes made his mistakes, but he also got a fairly crappy deal at United where he was without question the most scrutinized manager of any club in the EPL. The expectations were off the charts, and I'm quite certain he's not as bad a manager as what he displayed at Old Trafford.
Would he Come to Tottenham? I'm 100% certain he would, given the opportunity. The question is whether he would actually get the opportunity.
Pros: he's freeeeeeeee and everyone knows Daniel Levy loves a good bargain. He'll have money to spend (though not as much as at United) and a good squad (though not as good as at United). Also, a motivated Moyes could land on his feet at Spurs without the intensely high pressure-cooker that is Manchester United.
Cons: A David Moyes appointment would be the second "managerial reclamation project" in three years for Daniel Levy. While we know that David Moyes will land with some club eventually and will likely do well, we also know what happened with Andre Villas-Boas the last time Levy tried to bring in a manager who failed spectacularly at a larger club. It's hard to fathom that even the low price could convince him to try this experiment again. Also, tactically Moyes' style of football probably is not a good fit for Tottenham Hotspur, a club known for high-energy, attacking, exciting football. MoyesBall is not Tony-Pulis-At-Stoke, but neither is it Diego-Simeone-at-Atleti.
Final Thoughts: The bloom is most emphatically off David Moyes' rose, and fairly or unfairly he's now considered damaged goods. Say what you will about his tenure at Manchester United, but it was the managerial equivalent of Steven Gerrard slipping against Chelsea. It's a harsh experience, it ain't exactly fair, but it happened, and it cost him dearly. While we've written on this site before that Moyes would be not only a good but possibly a great fit at Tottenham Hotspur, times and opinions change, and my opinion of Moyes' managerial efficacy has certainly decreased. It's not clear how well Moyes and Levy will get along, whether Moyes would submit to Franco Baldini in a Director of Football model, or whether he'd be able to take Spurs, who are essentially Everton-Plus, consistently to the promised land with his tactics. I like David Moyes, and I hope he gets another chance to manage a Premier League club. I just hope it's not with Tottenham Hotspur.