‘It’s clear how much Moyes cares about West Ham thriving’

We listen to the Scot's chat with the Diary of a CEO podcast that shows he still wants to do things his own way

David Moyes (West Ham manager) at the West Ham United v Leicester City EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on November 12, 2022.

Among the many joys of podcasting is the ability to eavesdrop a real conversation instead of simply listening to an interview. A recent episode of the Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett features David Moyes in conversation that is both revealing and refreshingly candid.

If anyone appreciates the nature of football management at the highest level, it’s the Glasgow-born son of a pattern-maker. Apart from three seasons Moyes has managed in the Premier League for the past 21 years. He currently lies fourth in the all-time games managed list.

We have a rare opportunity to learn about Moyes’ upbringing in a close knit family from the West End of Glasgow. The ethic of guts and hard graft came from his parents, particularly his father who began in shipbuilding and later became a teacher.

Moyes inherited essential genes from his father who coached a highly respected youth team. But readily conceded his abilities as a player were modest, and was driven to gain his coaching badges at the age of 20.

He believed this helped him to become a better footballer; but a solid if unspectacular career never progressed beyond the Championship. Like so many players with unfulfilling careers they are driven by club management. Over 40 years in the game have taught him that times change. But a traditional approach can still survive and thrive.

He has bookended the ill-fated appointment of Manuel Pellegrini and jumped at the opportunity to come back. But he was very clear about fostering a winning culture at West Ham. The club would not be seen as flaky or a soft touch on his watch.

At the age of 59, the clock is ticking and he does not intend to be a team manager in his 70s as some have done. But you sense there is a desire to win a major trophy before he finally hangs up his tracksuit. Bartlett asked what his goal would be in five years’ time. Moyes was hesitant in his answer; he said ‘periods of success’ but then changed to ‘bring trophies in’.

Moyes has managed successful teams but the trophy cupboard is disappointingly bare. He guided Everton to a FA Cup Final. They frequently finished in the top 10 but that’s not how success is measured in football.

His brief spell in charge at Manchester United is well documented. But how he got the job doesn’t just take the biscuit but the whole packet. Moyes was summoned to the home of Sir Alex Ferguson and told he was taking the job as manager.

No interview, no time to think about it; he would replace the most successful manager in the history of English football. This form of anointment may be a dream sequence for some, but Ferguson had laced an intolerable millstone around his neck. Understandably, the experience still burns for Moyes who rightly feels he wasn’t given a proper chance.

The 2-0 win against Everton has only bought him more time. Speculation is a ravenous beast and creates more pressure where it doesn’t belong. There are fine margins and pivotal moments in any game. Had West Ham lost it would have been David Moyes walking the plank and not Frank Lampard.

A classic example of Darwinian principles and survival of the fittest. How does anyone cope with this kind of scrutiny? He has spent a third of his life in a pressure cooker called the Premier League where no one is your friend. You have to defend yourself against the fans, media, the board and occasionally your own players.

When things go wrong the clamour is to sack the manager but never sack the players who are strangely let off the hook. The manager picks the best team from the players available; coaches, motivates and devises a tactical plan.

The manager can only influence play by making tactical substitutions but otherwise his hands are tied. Isn’t it about time the players took more responsibility for the team’s failings; and not implicitly point the finger at the manager? 

This podcast shows that Moyes is his own man and intends to do things his way. He seems to gain an extra line on his furrowed brow after each match. We should admire the tiny miracles performed by managers every day; to carry the fans’ dreams, keep the board happy and gain some personal satisfaction from an impossible job.  

It’s a ‘must listen’ for all West Ham fans, if only to appreciate someone who genuinely cares about the club. A cynic might assume he can simply wait for the sack and get his contract paid up. But you sense it’s more than just a piece of paper to David Moyes?

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