Working his magic

AP

Everton might finish ahead of Liverpool this season. And this might also persuade David Moyes, a contender for Manager of the Year just about every season despite his lack of trophies, to sign another contract and stay at Goodison. By Frank Malley.

They love a joke on Merseyside and down the years Everton have been the butt of one or two.

“I always look in the Sunday paper to see where Everton are in the league, starting, of course, from the bottom up,” was a favourite taunt of former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly.

Everton, however, might finish ahead of Liverpool this season.

It might also persuade David Moyes, a contender for Manager of the Year just about every season despite his lack of trophies, to sign another contract and stay at Goodison.

Manager of the Year? I know what you are thinking. How could Moyes be voted the best when Sir Alex Ferguson has just picked up his 13th EPL title?

Easy. Moyes does not have access to the coffers which allow Ferguson to prise players such as Robin van Persie from United’s main rivals. Moyes does not have the finances which have allowed Ferguson to assemble arguably the strongest squad in EPL history. There are times when Everton give the impression that they struggle to pay the tea lady, let alone find the wages to lure the most talented players to Goodison.

Yet, season after season, Moyes makes it work. Season after season he finds the right balance, generates the desire, blends disparate characters such as no-nonsense defender Phil Jagielka, mercurial midfielder Marouane Fellaini and striker Nikica Jelavic. Season after season Moyes punches above his weight and as each season nears its close there is speculation that this time he will get the big job. The one his consistent work at Goodison deserves.

It is why no new contract has been signed. Moyes is taking stock. No doubt he is asking himself what so many observers have alluded to in the past. Has he taken Everton as far as he can? Without a billionaire benefactor to match Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, the Glazers at United and Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour can Everton realistically join the UEFA Champions League party?

The answers are “Probably” and “No chance”.

Yet that does not mean Moyes should leave. Far from it.

For a start where would he go? There is no sign of Ferguson retiring anytime soon in a job with which Moyes was once linked. The Chelsea job is available this summer when interim boss Rafael Benitez leaves but someone more charismatic and controversial than Moyes appears to be heading for Stamford Bridge.

There is little opportunity for Moyes looking up the EPL table? So why look down it?

True, an offer from the Bundesliga, Europe’s top ticket right now, could be tempting but Moyes is the third longest-serving manager at one club in the EPL. Only Ferguson and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger have been in their posts longer. They stand for consistency and style, for reason and long-term stability over knee-jerk short-termism.

Would fans rather have the QPR way or the Everton? There is no contest, just as Moyes should have no doubt that he is appreciated by his chairman Bill Kenwright, the board, the fans, the players and everyone in football who recognises the challenges of managing on a shoestring this past decade. “No-one knows what the manager is going to do at the end of the season,” said Jagielka. Much better for Everton and for football, however, if Moyes stayed.

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