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Moyes: God or the Devil Incarnate?

By Steve Pugh :  23/10/2009 :  Comments (17) :
Over the last few weeks, a lot of people have given their opinions on whether David Moyes is the best manager we've had or the worst. It has been said that we suffer more 'tonkings' under Moyes than any other manager and that the result against Benfica was the most embarrassing result in memory.

The first thing I want to look at is the number of heavy defeats that Everton have suffered under Moyes. As everyone is well aware, David Moyes joined Everton in March 2002, what you might not know is that his third game in charge was a 6-2 defeat at Newcastle (I must apologise for getting that fact wrong on a different thread and credited that defeat to Walter Smith.) I had to make a decision on what constituted a 'tonking', if you disagree I apologise, but I decided on a game where we conceded at least 4 goals and lost by at least 3 goals.

Under these conditions, an Everton team led by David Moyes has been 'tonked' 15 times out of a total of 344 games. In the equivalent period of time preceding Moyes appointment we were 'tonked' 17 times. So he actually is pretty average.

What does stand out is his 7-goal defeat against Arsenal; no manager since 1950 has lost by 7 goals. 5 goal defeats are much more common, Moyes and Bingham have 2 each, whilst Walter Smith, Howard Kendall and Harry Catterick have one each. Catterick can also lay claim to a 6-goal defeat against Arsenal.

But I think the 'most tonked' award has to go to Cliff Britton: 2-8 v Huddersfield (a)
0-7 v Portsmouth (a)
2-6 v Birmingham (a)
0-6 v Sheff Wed (a)
3-6 v Portsmouth (a)

Not to mention countless games conceding 4 or 5 goals.

So as far as heavy losses, is Moyes the worst? No. Is he the best? No. Basically he's kind of Average.

What about overall, I didn't have time to go all the way back in time so I only went back as far as our last successful manager, Howard Kendall.

If you look at percentage of games won, Kendall is the best, winning 47% of his games in charge ,leaving Colin Harvey and Moyes battling over 2nd and 3rd; Mike Walker trails in a distant last with only 17%, followed by Walter Smith with 30%.

Percentage of games lost again sees Kendall leading the way although this time he is joined by Harvey with only 28% of games lost. Moyes comes in 4th behind Joe Royle with 34%.

Under Moyes we score 1.34 goals per game, 4th in the list again, as he is with goals conceded with 1.21 goals per game. Our most attacking manager was Kendall with 1.5 goals per game and our most defensive was Harvey, his teams only conceded an average of 1.03 goals per game.

So in a list of 6 managers David Moyes is pretty much in the middle as far as results go.

The one thing Davey is good at is increasing the value of his players. Which has resulted in what looks to be a strong first XI when they are all fit.

I will never accept the argument our injury list has not affected our start to the season. I think our second-choice players are good enough to fill in the odd gap in the team, but not to replace Arteta, Pienaar, Jags, Yak, Baines and Neville. All of whom I believe are in Moyes's First Choice XI... until Rodders is fully developed at which point Neville will drop out, and all of whom have been missing for several games at a time this season. The first-team regulars that have replaced them are only second choice players, in my opinion.

So I can only conclude that David Moyes so far has been pretty average. He has given us better league placings than some of his predecessors, but that could be down to the performance of other teams. He certainly isn't the worst manager during this period, Mike Walker can take that honour with my blessing. But equally he hasn't proved himself to be a God either.

Personally I want to see a fully fit David Moyes first-choice team play against a good footballing side before I decide whether he is capable of taking us forward. Have we reached the summit, or is this just a plateau before we push on again?

Reader Comments

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John Sreet
1   Posted 24/10/2009 at 06:10:41

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Thanks, really good article, well balanced and factual.......Congratulations!
Craig Wilson
2   Posted 24/10/2009 at 10:34:23

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I totally agree you cant judge until we have seen a fully fit squad.

You must give the manager credit for some of the players he has bought over the years and turned them into top class players, let's hope we can keep them and build a better squad.
Damian Kelly
3   Posted 24/10/2009 at 11:36:53

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I suppose it's a bit like school tables — do you look at absolute results or "value added". If you look at value added, I would move Moyes above Harvey who inherited a squad that he took backwards and Smith who kept a team at the same level.

The manager that Moyes reminds me of most is the much maligned Gordon Lee. Lee had a decent side that could have been even better if he had trusted flair and creativity more — ring any bells? If Clive Thomas hadn't been such an arse or if a couple of ricochets had gone the other way against Villa, we would have won that first trophy that might have seen us break through in the same way as the Watford Cup Final.

Sometimes you reach a point where it all comes down to small margins — Kevin Brock breaks for you and the momentum moves forward. The luck goes against you and you’re out of a job.

I sense that Moyes has reached a level where without funding he will need to be lucky. If (big if) we win one trophy, I think we will win more — so David Moyes, do you feel lucky punk?
Eric Hardman
4   Posted 24/10/2009 at 12:50:33

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I would question whether the number of so-called ’tonkings’ is a useful measure of a manager. Since we’re supposed to be entertained a more useful measure would be how many tonkings have we given out under Moyes. The answer is probably one, against a lamentably poor Sunderland side. Moyes isn’t God and he isn’t the Devil, I agree but he’s never going to be average, just poor. Five more years of this and there won’t be any fans left to care.
Andy Morden
5   Posted 24/10/2009 at 14:41:05

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I think Eric makes a spot on point — using a quantitative method to assess success is one thing, but the subjective, emotional and belief-driven context of being a football fan can’t be captured by doing this.

And it seems a sizeable portion of the Evertonian masses want to win, but to win well. And not stumble along with that all too precarious feeling that, although we might be on a hot streak of results, the collapse is not far around the corner... ie, lucking it out and papering over the cracks. You know it is getting bad when they are getting critical on Bluekipper!
Dave Wilson
6   Posted 24/10/2009 at 14:17:31

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I was about to pen a similar article myself, Steve, I’m glad I didn’t — you’ve done a much better job than I would have. If I had replied to your post last week, I’d have probably given a very different answer to the one I’m going to give.

I have become increasingly frustrated by Moyes this season, that’s not just a knee-jerk reaction to recent events, it goes further than that. I have found some things — particularly our preparation for the season — unforgivable and the only reason I have persevered is that I haven’t held DM solely responsible.

But when I saw the side he’d picked to play Wolves, I completely blew my stack. it was an insult to every Evertonian, even now I still can't believe we set out to stifle Wolves at home.

When Davey Moyes broke into the top four in 2004, a lot of us believed we had found our own "special one". How wonderful it was to see him dressed in his best Marks and Sparks cardigan sipping Dom Pom as he gave a TV interview from his home after we’d clinched 4th... But the season wasn’t over, we won't mention Istanbul, but we can't avoid what happened at Highbury.

I believe that nightmare of a night changed Moyes forever. He went into the game on a high, everyone was singing his praises and he decided for the first time that season to let his team of journeymen off the leash. We’d finished top four, we’d been disciplined all season, why shouldn’t we open up and entertain on the last day?

I can still clearly remember how shell-shocked Moyes looked as a Bergkamp-inspired Arsenal ripped his team of honest pros apart. Never again would Moyes ask his bargain basement heroes to engage in a "you play/we play" game of football against the big boys. Lee Carsley and co were great pros, but they were cruelly exposed by world class opposition

Every Blue can tell you how we will line up the next time we play a Sky four team, the emphasis will be on stopping the opposition playing. Ironically, we have still suffered a couple of heavy defeats, but how many Evertonians were complaining when we battled our way passed Man U and the Shite last year?

It's easy to be bolder if you have people like Bergkamp in your side... Maybe things may have been different for Moyes if he’d had that caliber of player at his disposal, who knows? But the rigid safety-first approach Moyes repeatedly reverts to will almost certainly cost him one of the very top jobs.

I have been genuinely shocked by the level of spite and hatred directed at Moyes this week, shocked and disgusted.

Qualifying for a CL place with a team that included "honest" players like Bent, Kilbane, Pistone and Hibbert could only ever be done by a very capable manager... only the spiteful, or the particularly stupid would fail to recognise that.

Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 24/10/2009 at 21:01:02

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According to the Everton Results site, Moyes sits in 6th place, just behind Gordon Lee, with Joe Royle, Colin Harvey, Harry Catterick & Howard Kenall Mk I ahead of them. So, as you said, Moyes is pretty average. Interestingly, only Catterick's stint as Manager was longer than Moyes's and and he earned that longevity through the silverware his teams won.
Dennis Stevens
8   Posted 24/10/2009 at 21:11:06

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Dave Wilson, I don’t think Moyes let his team off the leash at Highbury - unfortunately they’d clearly been off the leash, celebrating, well beforehand!
Steve Pugh
9   Posted 24/10/2009 at 21:44:11

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I think Damian makes a really good point about value added. DM inherited a very poor team from three successive managers with losing records. Dave Watson (not really his fault he was only caretaker so Sorry Dave), Kendall Mk3, and Walter Smith. Those three managers between them lost 86 games and only won 65, so compared to that DM has done quite well really.

For Eric and Andy I used Tonkings because that is what was being moaned about on other sites. But sticking with the rules I laid out for defeats, we have ’tonked’ 3 sides this season already, 1 last season, 2 the season before, 7-1 and 6-1, I could go on if you wish.
Brendan O'Doherty
10   Posted 25/10/2009 at 03:03:31

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Dave Wilson — some very good points there.

And the irony of it is that in Moyes’s first few weeks in charge he seemed to let the players "off the leash" they had been on under WS, and we got the points we needed to get away from the bottom of the table. It’s seems as if the ’safety first’ approach almost creeps up on managers the longer they go on.

I’m beginning to wonder if we will ever play 4-4-2 again, unless forced to by the non-availability of players. To play it against Benfica away but not against Wolves at home does seem bizarre to say the least.
Neil Steele
11   Posted 25/10/2009 at 11:39:48

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No doubt factually correct but really quite irrelevant and totally bereft of any real logic. You cannot compare results from the 60’s and 70’s when ridiculous scored games were far more commonplace to a time when, in Moyes own words ’the first goal in premier league games is crucial’. You also fail to include the ’tonkings’ administered to clubs BY Everton. Even Walter Smith came up with a few 5 and 6 goal smashings, West Ham and Boro games spring to mind. Under David Moyes we have regulalrly been beaten by big scores but seldom win by more than the odd one. His results you cannot argue with, his style you most certainly can.
Ciarán McGlone
12   Posted 25/10/2009 at 11:49:13

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I’m not sure comparing results from 40 years ago holds any value...Ultimately all but the most diametrical comparisons are fruitless..

All we can safely say is that Moyes’ football is hard to watch - and that he’s terrible at some aspects of the game and good at others....

I think arguments about replacing him are also that would cost money..I also happen to think that although our injury crisis is not a vlid excuse for the quality of play from top paid professionals - that we will play a better brand of football once everyone is back....However the question at that stage will be - will Moyes pick his best eleven or try and keep his ’established players’ happy....

Or even worse - could we see a Benitez rotation policy adopted at Everton just to keep people happy..
Steve Pugh
13   Posted 25/10/2009 at 13:44:27

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If somebody says that Moyes is the worst manager ever. Then you have to compare him to all of his predecessors.

Equally someone said we get tonked more under Moyes than any manager in the last 30 years then you have to look at all the results in the last 30 years.

I don’t see any other way of answering the questions that had been raised on other threads.
Ciarán McGlone
14   Posted 25/10/2009 at 14:06:25

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Why answer them at all?

We know that as football fans we’re reactionary and emotional beings....
James Stewart
15   Posted 25/10/2009 at 17:08:24

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Some valid points and great research!

However Moyes has had full strength teams before and been found very much still wanting.

I’m afraid i don’t share the same optimism that once everyone is back fit all will be rosy.

The style of play will remain the same - Negative boring shite.
Rob Heib
16   Posted 26/10/2009 at 13:14:35

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Okay so let me get this "discussion" straight ...

"We get tonked more under Moyes than anyone else."

Many people agree.

Steve posts facts pointing out that, factually speaking, that is not true.

"Oh yeah well we don’t tonk anyone ourselves, there has only been one time."

Steve posts that, using the same standards, he can think of 6 tonkings off the top of his head.

People say the whole discussion is bereft of logic, irrelevant and pointless to argue because "We’re reactionary and emotional beings."

So in other words, people can moan all they like, even if they’re wrong, and if you point out they are wrong, you’re irrelevant and pointless!!!

Perhaps if more people had seen fit to post in the other thread (where the pointless and irrelevant nonsense actually started) telling the original posters that their argument wasn’t relevant then the "retaliation" wouldn’t have been required. Then again we all know that it’s always the retaliation which gets the card.

Steve, I’d give up if I were you. I appreciate the effort (FWIW I enjoyed the analysis) but this thread is a textbook example of how not to have a discussion.

Over the last week or so I’ve seen again and again people say they don’t give a toss about other teams (comparing teams with similar resources/situations is "irrelevant"), they don’t care about money (a decade plus of clear cut evidence not enough), don’t care about injuries (the injured team would beat the team we have healthy but don’t bring it up), don’t care about the last five years (because nine games of one season are all that’s important), and now also don’t care about actual factual results (even when they are in direct response to factually incorrect statements made by other people).

Those are the rules for "discussion." I wouldn’t bother playing if I were you, Steve, but good luck if you do.

Dennis Stevens
17   Posted 26/10/2009 at 18:46:39

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Neil Steele : "You cannot compare results from the 60s and 70s when ridiculous scored games were far more commonplace to a time when, in Moyes own words ’the first goal in Premier League games is crucial’"

I’d have to disagree with your point on the basis of "ridiculous scored games" — it was the ever more defensive tactics that emerged in the 60s & became very much the norm in the 70s & resulted in so many goal-less or low-scoring draws that lead to the introduction of the 3 points for a win, in a desperate attempt to get teams to try to score goals & be more adventurous in going for the win.

It should also be borne in mind that, when people compare Moyes with other Everton managers, that comparison is based upon how each respective manager fared in his own era.

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