David Moyes is a busted flush, he should be sacked right now
Since being appointed in the summer, David Moyes has been a disaster. The Scot has bought poorly, to describe his tactics as limited would be generous and he has projected no confidence at all with his public utterances.
That sentence could have been written three years ago, when Moyes was Manchester United manager, but it describes the Scot's two months at Sunderland. However, whereas the 53-year-old was allowed take United to seventh place and out of the Champions League before he was sacked, if Sunderland act now they might be able to avoid being dragged into the Championship.
Saturday's 2-0 loss to Stoke City leave the Black Cats with two points from eight games, marooned at the bottom of the table and without a win the league this season. Whatever it was that brought Moyes relative success at Everton is gone.
Some might argue that Sunderland have avoided relegation so often over the past few seasons, that they were eventually going to go down regardless of the manager. You just can’t keep having miracle escapes season after season. Previous managers of the club, from Roy Keane to Gus Poyet, have also spoken about something being wrong at the club. There’s a culture that can’t be changed simply by replacing the manager, and if Sunderland were to be relegated, fans or the players couldn’t have too many complaints.
However, none of that changes the fact Moyes is a busted flush and not the man to turn around the ailing club.
He had relative success at Everton, which isn’t the same as actual success. Actual success is winning trophies; relative success is keeping a team in a respectable position in the Premier League with limited funds. If Everton had money to splash during his tenure, it's likely he would have either been too cautious to use it, wasted it or been replaced by a manager with a track record of success.
The hard truth that Moyes’ sympathisers won’t admit is that part of the reason he remained at the club for so long was because the club couldn’t afford to replace him and push on. Despite richer clubs like Tottenham Hotspur or Chelsea changing managers numerous times during Moyes’ tenure at Everton, he was never mentioned as being a contender for either job at any point.
For every bargain signing, like Seamus Coleman or John Stones, Moyes threw money away on flops like Andy Johnson, James Beattie and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Nothing he did at the club constituted being Manchester United manager. Everton haven’t suffered because of his departure and nothing he has done since has suggested he can keep Sunderland in the Premier League, beginning with some of the guff he has uttered in press conferences.
According to Sunderland owner Ellis Short, Moyes was his number one target for the manager’s position a number of times in the recent past. When asked why he didn’t take the role last October, when Sam Allardyce became manager, Moyes replied: "The main reason was because I didn't think they could stay up, so what Sam did was amazing."
Before praising Moyes for his honesty, think about that statement. It is astoundingly negative. Moyes is saying that he didn’t think he was capable of keeping a team in the top flight with seven months of the season remaining. That’s how little he is prepared to back himself. That’s how little confidence he has. If he doesn’t have confidence in his own ability, how does he expect his players to trust him?
Moyes bought Donald Love and Paddy McNair from Manchester United. When speaking about Love, Moyes said: "Donald comes highly recommended." Recommended by who exactly? A club looking to sell him to a manager who is desperate? Love has appeared in three Premier League games.
The Scot also bought Papy Djilobodji for £8m from Chelsea. The defender played a single minute for the Blues as a stoppage-time substitute for Radamel Falcao in a 4-1 win over Walsall in the League Cup. Chelsea made a £6m profit on the player who never touched the ball during a competitive game for the club. It’s clear from Djilobodji’s performances for Sunderland that Moyes has bought a turkey.
Then there’s his tactics. Against Spurs, Moyes played a 4-5-1 formation, with Jermain Defoe as the lone-striker. That was it. There was no attempt to win the game or even an idea from Moyes on how such a result could be possible. It was sit back and keep the score down. Spurs might be a very good team, much better than Sunderland, but Moyes’ tactics, or lack thereof, were embarrassing.
As was the collapse against Crystal Palace. Leading 2-0 at home, Sunderland conspired to lose 3-2. Moyes stood on the sideline with the haunted look familiar to anyone who remembers his time at United. This is a man who was promoted way above his station at United, and who has been bypassed by changes within football.
Robbie Savage and the other proper football men might argue that British managers don’t get chances at big clubs. Moyes got a chance and proved he wasn’t up to it. Moyes might say he didn’t get enough time at United, and that he doesn’t have good enough players at Sunderland, but in both cases the blame lies with him.
You get time as a manager through success. Nothing Moyes did at United, or before that, suggested he was capable of delivering success. Having poor players isn't enough of a reason for failure either. Your job as a manager is to make a team greater than the sum of its parts. Moyes simply isn’t good enough.
The same applies to British managers not getting a fair chance. If they were good enough, they would be managing top clubs. Moyes is at this stage a Championship manager. His limited outlook and tactical approach has been found out and if Sunderland don’t bite the bullet and get rid of him they’re certain to be in the Championship next season.
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