The first word that comes to mind when I think of David Moyes is “genuine”. Anyone who has spent time with him will tell you the same. He’s engaging, funny but, above all, genuine.
I’ve been in his company at various events and he was one of the assessors when I did my UEFA A Licence coaching badge in Largs, up in Ayrshire. That was when he was at Everton, but he had so much time for those of us doing the course. His interest in every single one of us was genuine.
That’s why so many people in football were so pleased for him when, having built his reputation at Preston North End and Everton, he was handpicked by Sir Alex Ferguson to take over as Manchester United manager in 2013. It’s why so many people were so keen for him to do well at Old Trafford.
As we all know, it didn’t work out. He signed a six-year contract but he was sacked after ten months and there were an awful lot of people lining up to take potshots at David, particularly when his next two jobs, at Real Sociedad and Sunderland, didn’t go to plan either.
People called him yesterday’s man. They tried to rewrite history about his time at Everton. He was labelled as the man who failed at Manchester United and it seemed like the experience was going to haunt him for the rest of his career.
From the moment he was sacked by Manchester United in April 2014, there were 12 months in Spain with Real Sociedad, 10 unhappy months at Sunderland, which ended in relegation, and a very decent six-month stint as interim manager at West Ham United, at the end of which they replaced him with Manuel Pellegrini. Eleven years at Everton followed by six and a half years where he spent more time out of work than in work.
After being released by West Ham in May 2018 — harshly, I thought — he was out of work for 19 months. Looking back, I find that astounding. There were offers, but nothing quite at the level he was looking for until West Ham came calling again in late December 2019.
And look at them now. Not only did he steer them clear of relegation, but he followed that by leading them to sixth place in the Premier League last season, just two points behind Chelsea in fourth. Right now they’re seventh, but still in the hunt for Champions League qualification and, even better, through to the Europa League quarter-final after a magnificent victory over Sevilla.