They say stability breeds success, and Everton's steady progress under David Moyes' continued guidance seemed to prove this. To emphasise the point from a different angle, the Toffee's shaky start to the season has had many pointing the finger at the disruption caused by Moyes' protracted negotiations over a new long term contract.
The speculation over Moyes' future was brought to a close today when he finally signed a new 5 year deal reportedly worth over £3 million a year, doubling his wages on his existing arrangement due to expire at the end of the season.
David Moyes is clearly an ambitious manager, and his achievements since taking the reigns at Goodison are unquestionably impressive. Finishing fourth and coming within a dubious refereeing decision of overcoming Villareal and reaching the Champions League proper is no mean feat for a team that have been perennially threatened with relegation in recent times.
A superb man-manager, Moyes has excelled at getting the best out of a squad that has often lacked the depth and talent of Premier League rivals. Lee Carsley's departure this summer highlights this: An unglamourous pro who became an integral cog in Moyes' midfield, who left a huge hole upon leaving the club. This hole has been subsequently filled by Marouane Fellaini, at the princely sum of £15 million no less.
It would be grossly unfair to judge the Belgian after just four games at the club, but the early signs are very good indeed. While Everton fans may at times despair at Moye's perceived 'dithering' in the transfer market, it is hard to argue against his record. James Beattie aside, Moyes has brought in some excellent players with a limited budget, with Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill standing out.
Yet Moyes has possibly been grappling with the nagging feeling at the back of his mind that he had taken Everton as far as he could. For example, the club courted Joao Moutinho of Sporting all summer long, yet couldn't bring themselves to match the asking fee of around £20 million.
This incident presents the general conclusion, as conceeded by Chairman Bill Kenwright, that Everton just cannot compete with the top four without a move to a new stadium, and ultimately a big money backer.
Both Everton and Moyes have insisted throughout the lengthy negotiations that it was simply a case of 'dotting the i's and crossing the t's' on the new contract. Perhaps this is the case, but also perhaps it is the case that Moyes' ambition has now been sated by the fact that the club is effectively up for sale (Kenwright has said he is open to offers and has instructed an investment bank to find a buyer). Big money may be on the way.
However, if a big club does come a knocking in the near future, Moyes' loyalty to the 'People's Club' would be severely tested.
Should Moyes either get the capital to really push Everton towards the top four, or land a high profile job elsewhere, it will be intriguing to see whether this 'dour' Scot can wring as much effort and performance from a team of top-dollar footballers as he can from the likes of Joleon Lescott and Tony Hibbert.
Additionally, Moyes', who has been accused by fans of tactical naivety in the past, will have the chance to prove that he not only has the ability to motivate his squad, but also possesses the nous required to break down top level opponents and hold onto leads.
Moyes deserves his chance with either a richer Everton or another top class team, given his track record. But if, for whatever reason, he doesn't get it, a guaranteed £3 million a year isn't too shabby recompense is it?
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