Three years ago, in the summer of 2013, David Moyes was standing on the edge of greatness. The 50-year-old had just completed 11 years in charge of Everton and, after taking the Toffees from the edge of the relegation zone to the cusp of the top four, he had been identified as the man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Moyes arrived at Old Trafford as “The Chosen One” but things unraveled quickly for him in the Theatre of Dreams. He wasn’t able to bring his preferred transfer targets and he didn’t manage to stamp any authority on a side that struggled without Ferguson. The champions failed to qualify for the Champions League and Moyes was fired, after just 10 months in charge.
Many felt that Moyes had been hard done by and that it was the players who were to blame for the poor performances and not the manager. Louis Van Gaal was unable to do much better, despite spending around a quarter of a billion more than his predecessor and it’s easy to forgive Moyes from his Manchester misery.
A spell at Real Sociedad followed but that was plagued with problems. Moyes never learnt Spanish and he never moved his family to Spain, living instead out of a hotel in San Sebastian, which opened him up to criticism from the local press. Results were poor but without being awful. Sociedad stayed in the division but a 28% win rate was the lowest of Moyes’s career and it did little to improve his reputation.
Nonetheless, there was still enough good feeling towards the Glasgow born gaffer that he was given another chance this summer, when Sunderland were left without a manager following Sam Allardyce’s appointment as England boss.
The problem is what happens next for Moyes? If he fails at Sunderland then he will effectively have undone the good work that he did at Everton to such an extent that no Premier League team will see him as a viable option.
Europe doesn’t seem to be an alternative though for Moyes after the Spanish debacle and so what is left is for the man who managed Manchester United just three years ago to drop down to the Championship (or lower). He must wish now that he had ignored the Old Trafford overtures and stayed at Everton.