David Moyes has been welcomed to Sunderland with open arms but the new boss must learn lessons from his previous jobs if he is to thrive on Wearside.
Since its inception almost 25 years ago I cannot remember a season where the Premier League has been so top heavy with world-class managers. From established European behemoths such as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola to young guns with burgeoning reputations such as Slaven Bilic and Maurico Pochettino, the English top flight is awash with bosses with big reputations.
Yet one boss who must overcome his own demons and rebuild a tarnished reputation this season is David Moyes, recently installed into the Sunderland hot seat. Moyes had been out of work since November 2015 when he was fired by Real Sociedad after a somewhat underwhelming year in charge of the Spanish club. Before that he was an unequivocal failure at Old Trafford, inheriting a league title winning side from Sir Alex Ferguson and turning them into also rans. He ended his reign at Old Trafford with a win ratio of just 53%, averaging just 1.7 goals per game and a reputation he took years to build in tatters.
One of the main criticisms levelled against Moyes during his time at Manchester United was his unwillingness to be bold in the transfer market. He only made two major signings – Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini – and his total outlay was less than £65million. He was first given the ‘Dithering Dave’ moniker while at Everton, due to the length of time he took to make decisions, particularly with regard to transfers. At United he procrastinated way too long over a proposed ‘mega move’ for Gareth Bale, while also famously pulling the plug on a deal to bring the brilliant Thiago Alcantara to Old Trafford.
On Wearside, he simply doesn’t have time to dither. Sunderland have not made any significant inroads in terms of transfers this summer largely thanks to the ‘Big Sam for England’ saga. There is money available, and Moyes is admired and presumably trusted to get it right by owner Ellis Short, who finally landed the Glaswegian this month after previous attempts were thwarted. It will be interesting to see if Moyes has learned from past mistakes when it comes to transfers and what business Sunderland look to do between now and their opening game against Manchester City.
It’s not all doom and gloom however. Moyes failed in Manchester and Spain but his body of work as Everton boss was impressive. Moyes spent 12 years in charge of Everton and transformed the Merseyside club. While at Everton he brought young players through and he will surely be eager to unearth and nurture the next precocious talents to emerge the North East.
He has big shoes to fill, quite literally, following in the footsteps of Mr Allardyce, a man whom the Mackems took to their hearts. But if he hits the ground running and gets the fans on-side I suppose anything is possible. Sunderland’s fans don’t want to be perennial relegation candidates, neither Moyes a manager synonymous with struggle. For these reasons, the 2016-17 campaign is a huge season for both.