David Moyes would instil grit at Everton but appointing him would be a backwards step

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Everton finally sacked Roberto Martinez on Thursday, after a dismal season that has seen them fall well below expectations.

As the club begin to search for his replacements, the return of former manager David Moyes has been viewed by some fans as a safe pair of hands to steady the ship.  

Here, Chris Smith of The Russian Linesman gives his verdict on a Moyes return, and the other options open to the club… 

Everton manager Roberto Martinez was sacked on Thursday after a poor run of results with one win from 10

Everton manager Roberto Martinez was sacked on Thursday after a poor run of results with one win from 10

There is a tendency when replacing a manager to over-compensate. If the new man presents a clear solution to his predecessor’s obvious flaws, his own shortcomings can be glossed over. 

This happened to Roberto Martinez who was relieved of his duties as Everton manager on Thursday having arrived three years earlier to add attacking flair to a side made resilient by David Moyes. 

He did that alright but all resilience was lost. Everton are paying for the oversight.

Will the club now overlook attacking flair as they seek to plug a defence which has conceded 105 league goals in two seasons? Could such a negative approach pave the way for Moyes to return? 

During Martinez’s opening press conference, Chairman Bill Kenwright famously said: ‘When David first came to see me […], he said “we’re not going down”. Roberto’s first words were “I’ll get you in the Champions League”.’ Now, 14 years on from that first meeting, Moyes might have half a mind to try the same line.

David Moyes is another contender for the Goodison Park hotseat but would fans see it as a backwards step?

David Moyes is another contender for the Goodison Park hotseat but would fans see it as a backwards step?

Moyes took over in 2002, and steadied the ship in a difficult situation, not too dissimilar from the current one

Moyes took over in 2002, and steadied the ship in a difficult situation, not too dissimilar from the current one

DAVID MOYES’ EVERTON RECORD 

P518 W218 D139 L161 GF722 GA613

Clean Sheets: 162

The grim reality is that Everton’s current predicament is not dissimilar to the one Moyes inherited from Walter Smith in March 2002. Four wins and a draw from nine remaining games saw the Toffees finish 15th with 43 points.  

Worryingly, Everton are just a point better off this year and can still finish 16th. The Blues must beat Norwich at Goodison to match 2002’s total of eleven wins.

That side was seriously grim to watch. With Paul Gerrard in goal, Mark Pembridge and Niclas Alexandersson keeping 35-year-old David Ginola out of the side, and joint top scorers Duncan Ferguson and Tomasz Radzinski firing in just six league goals each, expectations simply didn’t exist amongst supporters. 

Just don’t get relegated was the order of the day. Over time, Moyes made Everton tough to beat and gradually returned pride to Goodison. The grit and determination he instilled then wouldn’t go amiss now. 

In truth, Everton are currently far better off than they were in 2002. Hidden within a disillusioned squad is a youthful core that can be moulded into something special. Academy players are pushing for first team inclusion. 

The squad Moyes took over in 2002 had only a point less at the same stage as the current crop

The squad Moyes took over in 2002 had only a point less at the same stage as the current crop

Moyes inherited a side with Niclas Alexandersson (pictured) keeping 35-year-old David Ginola out of the side

Moyes inherited a side with Niclas Alexandersson (pictured) keeping 35-year-old David Ginola out of the side

Everton could finish as low as 16th after a poor year

Everton could finish as low as 16th after a poor year

If new major shareholder Farhad Moshiri makes good on promises of investment, Martinez’s replacement will be given a significant transfer budget astronomically bolstered by the first instalment of a record TV deal. 

Now Martinez has departed, fans will remember this is actually an exciting time to be an Evertonian.

A Moyes return would be unambitious at any time but particularly so in the context of such prime opportunity. Retreating from the crossroads down a familiar, fruitless path. 

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Everton’s new manager must complement the optimism Moshiri’s arrival generated. The Blues have a budget to compete and must reflect that in their choice of manager. 

Ahead of 9/1 shot and fifth favourite Moyes, two Dutchmen make far better candidates.

Hours before Ajax surrendered the Eredivisie title on the last day away at relegated De Graafschap, Frank de Boer declared his interest through his agent. His brother Ronald reiterated this on Thursday. 

Ronald Koeman, who curiously shares agent Guido Albers with the de Boers, is believed to be tempted having been promised the biggest transfer budget in Everton’s history. 

De Boer’s five-and-a-half year reign at the Amsterdam Arena came to an end on Thursday, whilst Koeman has one year left on his current deal at Southampton. Both are respected by the Goodison hierarchy, both appeal to Everton fans far greater than Moyes.

De Boer and Koeman appear to present a far more balanced tactical approach than Moyes or Martinez were capable of. Attacking intent allayed with cautious defence. 

Ronald Koeman has impressed at Southampton since his arrival and Everton may struggle to prise him away

Ronald Koeman has impressed at Southampton since his arrival and Everton may struggle to prise him away

Frank de Boer is the early favourite to succeed Martinez after leaving Ajax following a six-year spell at the club

Frank de Boer is the early favourite to succeed Martinez after leaving Ajax following a six-year spell at the club

Whilst Moyes could undoubtedly improve the likes of John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori, and get to grips with Everton’s costly centre-back weakness, attacking limitations would likely limit progress. 

Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini did the double over Moyes at Man Utd; it is tough to see him consistently competing with Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. 

In contrast, Koeman has beaten every Premier League side within two years at Southampton. 

Somewhere in between use of the phrase ‘shoestring budget’ and memories of the emergent Wayne Rooney, Moyes earned a reputation for developing youth which was completely false. 

He never bothered much with players beyond the first team, only trusted a handful, and has Jack Rodwell’s arrested development against his name. 

Despite their poor performances this season, the current Everton side is young and exciting

Despite their poor performances this season, the current Everton side is young and exciting

Thanks to the emergence of Wayne Rooney Moyes earned a false reputation for developing youth

Thanks to the emergence of Wayne Rooney Moyes earned a false reputation for developing youth

The Dutch duo, as you would expect with 50 years of Ajax, Barcelona and Netherlands experience between them, are much more trusting of youngsters. 

Everton Under 21’s third-place finish in the Barclays U-21 Premier League gave credence to the view that David Unsworth is presiding over a promising group. Brendan Galloway, Tyias Browning and Matthew Pennington have all seen first time action whilst Kieran Dowell, Ryan Ledson and Liam Walsh could all step up. 

De Boer and Koeman’s similar approaches offer more hope to these players than Moyes’ mistrustful reluctance.

Besides, if the youngsters fail to make the grade, the new man can surely raid the market. 

Moyes brought stability last time around, but if the club are ambitious, he would fall some way short

Moyes brought stability last time around, but if the club are ambitious, he would fall some way short

The mere names De Boer and Koeman would command respect. Trophy-winning managers on the up would give Everton far greater appeal than trophyless Moyes. His reputation has been tarnished across the continent through failed spells at Man Utd and Real Sociedad.

Also, de Boer and Koeman’s knowledge of the Eredivisie could be a real plus. After 11 years of one frustratingly reserved manager and three years of his excessively risky replacement, Everton need to find a balance. 

It’s not a specialist that’s required, but an all-rounder, and somebody who can lift the club. Unlike de Boer and Koeman, Moyes would fall some way short of that.

Chris Smith writes for Everton blog The Russian Linesman. You can find him on twitter here.  

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