Sunday 25 January ~
Some managers seems to have a knack for winning cup ties. David Moyes is not amongst this number. In recent seasons, Everton's hopes of winning a trophy have often ended in January and that will be the case again today if they lose the FA Cup fourth round tie with Liverpool. Nonetheless most of their supporters will still be happy with the way the season has gone, in view of how it started.
In August Moyes wondered publicly how he "would get through to December" if a squad that was already one of the smallest in the League was hit by injuries. That injury crisis duly arrived with three of the four strikers in the first team squad having been absent since early December. Yet since the match at Spurs, which was the last time Yakubu and Louis Saha played this season, Moyes' side have taken 14 points from seven League games.
This run has rightly drawn praise from pundits, many of whom have reiterated a point made several times in the past few years, that Everton's biggest asset is their manager rather than a particular player. This observation is often accompanied by puzzlement that Moyes has not yet been given a chance at a "bigger club". Indeed, it seems to be assumed that his side's unexpected consolidation in the top six will increase the likelihood of Moyes receiving approaches from other clubs in the summer.
But who are these prospective employers? The perennial Champions League qualifiers are concerned primarily with staying on the gravy train in Europe, which is where they will look for experienced managers once the current incumbents have departed. Man City, even though they may be as deluded as a mad monarch from a cautionary folk tale, will also want to bring a big name boss to improve their chances of luring the "marquee" players of whom their now legendary chief executive Gary Cook has spoken with such enthusiasm.
Moyes’ supposed options are narrowed to a club of similar stature to Everton but with more spending power, which means essentially Tottenham, or Newcastle - should they succeed in finding a buyer. But it took Moyes at least a couple of years to reshape the Everton squad he inherited from Walter Smith and he has made the occasional misjudgment in the transfer market since, although the overall balance is positive. Every manager who goes into a club where there has been a rapid turnover of staff has to work with players he doesn't want, simultaneously trying to get the best out of them while complaining to his board they they're not good enough and must be moved on. Indeed, the current managers of Newcastle and Spurs have recently moaned, at some length, about the squads they inherited.
If Moyes does move on he won't get anything like the time he's been given at Everton, not least because he will be going into a club who are some way below what they perceive to be their rightful position. Perhaps that's the sort of challenge he would want to take on. Alternatively he might feel that his best chance of working at a club that wins things is make Everton into one.