One of the most significant managerial appointments of the post-war era.
That is the considered verdict of Henry Winter, the eminent journalist and chief football writer of the Daily Telegraph, on David Moyes’ Everton tenure.
The 48-year-old this month celebrates a decade at the Goodison Park helm, a rare achievement in a time where football management is as cut-throat as it ever has been.
Andre Villas-Boas last week became the 56th of Moyes’ Premier League peers to lose his job since he first donned Everton blue on March 14, 2002.
Chelsea, the club who expelled the Portuguese, have been responsible for seven of those.
But it is not just Moyes’ longevity that moved Winter to part with such profound praise.
I do put him up there with Ferguson and Wenger in terms of stature
- Henry Winter
There is clearly a deep respect for a man who has not only stood firm, but flourished in the most ruthless of environments.
“What David Moyes has managed is a phenomenal achievement,” Winter told evertontv.
“You only have to look at so many other clubs who have had an incredible turnover without it actually benefiting them.
“He has brought stability and intelligence. He has bought good players and he has developed talented younger players which we have seen with Rooney, Rodwell and now Barkley.
“He makes players better and Everton have punched above their weight – that is down to one man.
“If I look around the country then there are probably only two managers more central to the fortunes of their clubs – Ferguson and Wenger. They together are the three that have been at their clubs the longest and I do put him up there with those two in terms of stature.”
Indeed, any member of the press who has encountered David Moyes will be all too aware of the ‘presence’ Winter goes on to depict.
Saturation coverage of our top-flight means handling the media is ever more seminal to a manager’s fortunes, and Moyes has shown a canny ability to manipulate coverage right from his opening gambit as Everton manager.
“Clearly coming out and saying what he said about Everton being ‘the people's club’ struck the right tone with the fans and the media and the good thing about Moyes is that he has maintained that,” added Winter.
“It was a very clever statement of intent as it immediately won over the Evertonians who had lived with Liverpool for so long.
“And it also showed that he understood what Everton was about and he immediately created that hunger. You look at all the best managers and they are very good at creating causes and he created a cause at Everton.”
That fabled soundbite resonated so deeply it is now emblazoned in huge letters across the exterior of the Park End and, of course, sent the press pack away with a catchy and saleable line.
But that’s not to say press conferences with Moyes always go so smoothly and, as Winter stresses, the Everton manager is too quick of mind to tolerate foolishness, venality or subversion.
“I think that anyone who has met David Moyes – or from a journalistic perspective has been in one of his press conferences – even from the early days at Preston, would have said that this was a manager with presence,” he explained.
“You wouldn’t want to cross him. He has that 1000-yard stare in his eyes. As a journalist you would not want to get a story wrong about him or one of his players or his club.
“David Moyes has got that combination of incredible charm but you always feel there is a meat cleaver waiting in the background if your question is a slightly stupid, or impertinent or overly inquisitive.
You always feel there is a meat cleaver waiting in the background if your question is a slightly stupid
- Henry Winter
“He always has the club’s best interests at heart. A lot of managers you talk to, it is about them. With Moyes it is clear it is about the club and what is best for the club, best for presenting the image of the club; not necessarily about what is best for presenting the image of David Moyes.”
What has of course been best for Moyes’ image has been the development of an Everton team that has over the years increasingly resembled the unyielding yet dexterous Scot.
Moyes’ traits run through his side’s persona while he has augmented his squad through shrewd recruitment and refining the existing players at his disposal.
“There are two elements to being a good manager,” continued Winter. “The first is buying well and on the whole he has bought pretty well.
“You only need look at some of the players he has bought. In no particular order, Cahill, terrific, and for very little money. Also Tim Howard and Phil Neville – and that was quite a risky move but he saw someone who could be a captain and a leader.
“Others as well, he spent however much it was on Fellaini – £15m – and that was a gamble for a club like Everton to invest that sort of money and Fellani has repaid him.
“Jagielka has been terrific. Arteta came on loan at first so he had a look at him, and he is very good at that, taking a look at someone and seeing ‘do they fit?’ and ‘are they good around the club?’.
“Also he is able to make good players better and that is the second element of being a great manager. You have got to spend the money well but you have also got to inspire players and if you speak to any player at Everton they will tell you how special Moyes is in the dressing room – collectively and one on one – and his players always give the impression they would run through a brick wall for him.”