Somewhere—possibly in Florida—David Moyes will pick up the paper left at his hotel suite door on Tuesday morning. He should avoid reading the sports pages, because he’ll find out Manchester United have moved on.
The appointment of Louis van Gaal as manager at Old Trafford is finally official, per the club’s website, and United are on their way to forgetting the season they wish had never happened—and the boss who should have never been given the job.
Van Gaal is the anti-Moyes. He is a well-travelled, cultured member of the European coaching elite, and he’ll fire a rocket up the backside of the United players who perhaps took liberties under Moyes.
While he might be enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation in the Floridian sunshine, taking selfies with Mickey Mouse and building sand castles on Miami Beach, Moyes will return to management at some point. He might be looking for jobs already.
The Man Utd job was too big for Moyes. He was desperate to succeed at Old Trafford, but the harsh reality was no amount of hard work would have seen him thrive at the club.
His demeanor and personality weren’t the right fit. He never possessed the arrogance and unshakable self-assurance needed at the helm of a European superclub.
Moyes was attacked from all sides as United boss. Even Roberto Martinez, the man who replaced him at Everton, disclosed some home truths to the Scot, questioning the claim that Man Utd’s squad was old and past it.
“United’s squad is bigger and better than people are trying to make out,” the Everton manager said ahead of a clash with United last month, as per the Metro. “An ageing squad if you win becomes an experienced squad with knowhow.”
It all seemed slightly cruel. Moyes’ reputation will never fully recover, and indeed, he has blown the only chance he’ll get to take charge of an elite club. But we should look at Roy Hodgson and Mark Hughes for examples of how managers can recover from the indignation of failure in the public eye.
Any clubs considering Moyes as manager should completely disregard the past 12 months. Would they have been interested this time last year? Yes, would be the answer for the majority of Premier League clubs.
What Moyes achieved at Everton shouldn’t be forgotten. Football is a fickle business, but any prospective clubs must look at Moyes’ full body of work, all 16 years of it.
So where will Moyes land on his feet? Which clubs should be turning to the Scot?
At West Ham, patience is wearing thin with the abrasive and direct playing style advocated by Sam Allardyce. Should that manifest itself in the sacking of Big Sam, Moyes will likely be one of the bookmakers’ favourites to replace him. That might not sit too well with Hammers fans, considering the limitations of Moyes’ philosophy, but he could take the Upton Park club as far as he took Everton.
Moyes has a proven track record of consistent success on a modest budget, something that would appeal to a number of Premier League clubs. The top four would appear to be his ceiling (with the exception of a fourth-place finish with Everton in 2005), so any club that can say the same should certainly take a look at the Scot.
There could be a significant turnover of managers in the top flight this summer, with West Ham rumoured to be toying with the notion of managerial change, per the Mail. The club would be a good fit for Moyes.
But perhaps the best prospect of the lot would be Aston Villa. Paul Lambert is still clinging on to his job after a fairly dismal campaign, but that could change with the arrival of a new owner, as Randy Lerner looks to sell the club.
Villa would represent a step up from Everton in club stature, while Moyes would also escape the kind of pressure he wilted under at United. Given their resources and fanbase, the only way would appear to be up.
Plus, there’s precedent for disgraced Man Utd managers salvaging their reputations at Villa after Ron Atkinson’s successful stint with the Midlands club in the 1980s.
Just because Moyes failed at United doesn’t mean he would fail elsewhere. Moyes is still a good manager and will succeed at his next club.