‘You don’t reach 1,000 games as manager without being very good’

At the beginning of November, David Moyes took charge of his 1,000th game in senior professional management. There aren’t many who have reached such an impressive milestone, and there won’t be many who follow. 

That’s because professional football management is an emotional, stressful and draining profession. It takes a certain type of person to be one, and it takes another type to stick at it for as long as Moyes has. It’s somewhat fitting that his 1,000th game ended up being a relatively forgettable 2-2 draw away at Genk in the Europa League.

It was also fitting that it was a game that represented not only West Ham’s progress under him but also his resurrection as a top manager capable of achieving great things. Moyes’ managerial career began at Preston in what is now known as League One but, as we all know, the Scot made his name as a top boss during 11 hugely successful years at Everton. 

During that period at Goodison Park, Moyes led Everton to eight top-eight finishes, which included gate crashing the top four in 2004/2005.  He failed to win any silverware with the Toffees but his ability to lead Everton into the Champions League and keep them competing in the top-half of the Premier League table had cemented his reputation as, arguably, the best of the rest in terms of managerial talent in the Premier League.

So it wasn’t overly surprising to see him chosen as the man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Man United in 2013.  His time at Old Trafford will always be remembered as a tremendous failure after he was sacked almost 10 months into the job, but to date that job was his most successful in terms of win percentage. 

He won 53% of his 51 games in charge. His second best spell at a club by the same criteria is this current spell he’s enjoying at West Ham with a 48% win percentage so far. What followed his spell at United were his infamous spells at Real Sociedad and Sunderland.

He was dismissed in Spain a day short of his one year anniversary having won just 12 of his 42 games in charge, and then arrived at the Stadium of Light eight months later to mastermind the Black Cats’ relegation from the Premier League. Of course, he lost job after that. So by the time he rocked up in east London to replace Slaven Bilic on a short term deal in November 2017, you can forgive West Ham fans for being enraged by the club’s perceived lack of ambition. 

Moyes was simply tasked with keeping West Ham in the Premier League, which he did admirably given the squad he inherited. But still, fans back then demanded more.  We demanded a ‘big name’ manager. We demanded what we had been promised before the move to the London Stadium, and a manager who had seemingly flopped at Man United and just taken Sunderland into the Championship was seen as the antithesis to those promises. 

We all know what happened next. Despite deserving to get the job on a longer term contract after saving us, Moyes was ditched in favour of Manuel Pellegrini. Now, Moyes was almost assigned to the managerial scrapheap. How would he recover? The rest, is of course, history.

Pellegrini didn’t work out and Moyes was asked to save West Ham once again. This time around, there were quieter accusations of the club showing a lack of ambition by turning to Moyes for a second time. In hindsight, what initially appeared to be yet another underwhelming appointment has turned out to be one of the best things David Gold and David Sullivan have done since they’ve been in control of West Ham.

Moyes, of course, kept us up for a second time and has since transformed the club into a top-six outfit, guided the team into the Europa League last-16 and is now attempting to mastermind a top-four finish. Put simply, not only has West Ham’s transformation been impressive since Moyes’ return but the transformation of his own stock deserves a huge amount of respect. 

After failing in Spain and relegating Sunderland, Moyes’ chances of reaching the 1,000 milestone were all but in the bin. His reputation was finished. Now, he’s a messiah. A man worshipped by all in east London. What he has achieved in such a short space of time at West Ham has been beyond any of our wildest dreams. 

Sure, he’s not won anything but, when he returned there was absolutely no reason to even believe he’d be the manager to guide us to a sixth-placed finish, a club record 65 Premier League points, winning our Europa League group with a game to spare and being spoken about as genuine top-four contenders by neutrals and pundits alike. 

This is very close to what we were promised with the stadium move, but those promises are being delivered by the most unlikeliest of figures. But was it ever unlikely? Moyes has always been a superb manager. Had he been given more time at Man United, what could he have achieved? 

Had Sunderland allowed him to right his wrongs of that relegation season and start building a project, would they now be languishing in League One for a fourth consecutive season? By being given the chance to build something at West Ham, Moyes has been able to resurrect himself, his reputation and the hopes and dreams of West Ham fans around the world. 

Put simply, you don’t make it to 1,000 games as a manager unless you’re very good at being a manager, and Moyes is now showing that the clubs who wrote him off too early, even West Ham, were perhaps too hasty in their judgement. Of course, silverware is the only thing that is missing from Moyes’ long and impressive career as a boss, but there is every chance he can add that to his CV while at West Ham. 

Especially if this wonderful journey he’s taking us on continues. Here’s to another 1,000 games, Dave!

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