Everton Will Greet Returning Moyes Knowing That They Have Traded Up

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2014

Everton's manager Roberto Martinez, right, issues instructions as he stands alongside Manchester United manager David Moyes during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super

Of all the many, many thousands of words written about David Moyes' first season as Manchester United manager, the most damning indictment of his tenure thus far comes from a simple glance at the league table.

One team, having lost a long-term manager whose personality had embodied the whole club and brought success after years of underachievement are one place and 10 points better off than at the same stage last season, while the other are six places and 24 points worse off.

Scott Heppell

It can all be boiled down to this very simple statement: Manchester United have got worse since David Moyes arrived, while Everton have got better since he left.

There were doubts about Roberto Martinez when he was hired to replace Moyes last summer; for all his reputation for playing good football and doing well with limited resources at Wigan, he had still taken them down with one of the most consistently leaky defences in the Premier League.

Of course, he has dispelled those doubts with some gusto, doing a superb job of building on the undoubtedly fine base set by Moyes at Goodison Park, integrating his wisely recruited new additions into his team to turn them into an altogether slicker outfit.

Much has been made of how much of Everton's improvement is down to their loan signings, bringing in players they would otherwise not be able to afford, but Martinez is simply exploiting the rules as they currently stand, with Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry forming key parts of his new team.

Scott Heppell

An interesting comparison to make is how Moyes and Martinez have handled their respective midfields this season. Moyes bought Marouane Fellaini at great expense from his old club, but the Belgian has struggled to make an impact thus far, and there is a clear sense that it really isn't clear what role he plays at Old Trafford and indeed what role he would be best deployed in.

The signing of Juan Mata has also yet to fully prove itself, as Moyes has not yet found the best place to fit the Spaniard, which is quite understandable given the other attacking talents in the United squad, and there is obviously still time to fit him in.

Scott Heppell

Martinez, on the other hand, has paired Barry with James McCarthy, who at £14 million looked like a very expensive signing for a club of Everton's means, but he has turned out to be one of the most consistent and efficient midfielders in the Premier League this season.

Add to that his sensible use of Ross Barkley, who has flourished into one of the best creative talents in the division this season, and it is easy to see why Everton are challenging for a Champions League place while United are not.

The two men will come face to face at Goodison Park on Sunday, one broadly happy with how this season has gone and the other not.

The Daily Mail reported this week that some at Everton, despite his 11 largely excellent years at the club, were not unhappy to see Moyes leave last summer.

One could argue that shows something of a lack of gratitude, but regardless of how the Everton fans greet their old manager, one thing is relatively clear—they will do so in the clear knowledge that they have traded up.