March 9, 2010

Thoughts before I sleep... David Moyes is a Genius of our Time

I was just thinking today, as I was watching Everton's unabashed thrashing of Hull City, that David Moyes is a man's manager: he is the one of a kind, genuine, player-fan-supporter of the game. He understands it. He's the kind of leader in a man who you wouldn't know it to guide you in the right direction, but if you were stuck on a captainless boat he would be the one that after several hours people unknowingly turn to rely on. It never struck me as so until today.

For the People's Club, he is the unheralded People's Leader. You really wouldn't give him the credit though, despite his vast and extensive experience. Growing up in Scotland, making his debut for some small club named Celtic, the only version of the game he's ever known is the hard-nosed, physical, in-your-face test of strength and endurance. His game has never been overtly flashy, nor pretty, but his tactics and knowledge belie his thick appearance. Still, through his playing days with clubs from Celtic, to the CU's, Bristol City, Dunfermline, and Preston North End (which for some reason I can only envision a young, but wizened-faced defender roughing it in snow and mud, like the good ol' days), he was never the standout. He was consistent. And steadfast. Attributes of the quiet leader that replaced Gary Peters when Preston North End were facing relegation.

History aside, this season has not lived to the potential that Everton showed in recent seasons past. Last year in particular, Everton showed glimpses of brilliance that reminded us of the People's football. However, ever since the 'black death' swept through Goodison Park, it wasn't just that pundunts wrote off Moyes' side as a bye, they felt comfortable and content to forget about Everton. Hell, I know even I did.

But the thing about Moyes that I realized listening to his press interviews is that he carries a surprising air of patience and, for lack of a better word, faith around him. I mean, in January when faced with the worst injury crisis in recent Premiership history, he remained calm and collected. When everyone else was yammering about the lack of transfer funds and the shitty world economic state, David Moyes made only one move. But it was so key, so crucial, and so genius, the way he made only one signing (a loan at that too, and look at the dividends his American investment has paid). And how he managed to remain patient when so many Rafa's and Mourinho's would have panicked and played the get out of jail free card, is bewildering in today's age of management.

In fact, it even warms my heart. Because the thing that opened my eyes to all of this, was that I remembered in my playing days when I was much younger, I had a coach. But he wasn't just a coach for our team, who ran drills and warmups. He was our rock, our father figure, the man who no matter the situation had all the answers. And when he didn't have the answer, that wasn't the important thing to focus on. He'd remind us of the attitude, to pull our heads out of asses, hard when we needed it, and softly when we couldn't hear. He reminded us that the play never came from the game, tactics, weather, form, or luck. It was the player, and the team. He just knew how to get your internal fire going without having to push it or force it on you. Kind of like this.

The thing is at the end of the day, you listen to Moyes talk about how he was still disappointed at how despite the injury crisis earlier this season, which if had not happened would probably have placed Everton in UEFA contention, happily say "that is just how football goes". And you know, just like Brian Clough, a great among greats in history, Moyes probably walked out of the interview into his post-match talk whistling to remind his players of practice the next day.

Moyes is not the kind of manager you compare with the Mourinho's or Ferguson's of the game. He never will be. Those kinds of managers instill camaraderie, or fear. Machine-like efficiency, or narrow-minded superfluity. They focus too much on aspects that only highlight one part of the game, and by doing so they miss out on the point of it all. No, Moyes is the man who anytime he speaks commands respect, and only because you know that deep down he knows that football is a part of life, and life is just a part of football. No matter the weather, the luck of the fifty-fifty challenge, the injuries, he can only continue to do what he only knows how. If only club owners could act with such maturity and experience, then we wouldn't need to be reminded of the class that David Moyes is.

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