The Softer Side To David Moyes

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Watch Video The Softer Side To David Moyes

Welcoming, considerate and caring – three words your average Evertonian may not immediately use to describe David Moyes.

But that is understandable. Opinions regarding the Everton manager's personality are drawn, for the vast majority, from post match interviews, snippets from press conferences and newspaper articles looking ahead to or reflecting on matches.

Rarely do people outside Finch Farm's inner sanctum have the opportunity to gain a more thorough understanding of what makes David Moyes tick.

Which is why, whilst he may be the most important person outside of the immediate circle of friends and family for the tens of thousands of Blues who convene at Goodison Park once a fortnight, it seems many would be wide of the mark when it comes to judging his personality.

Moyes and IrvineIrvine was the man at Moyes's side for much of his early time at Everton

Alan Irvine knows Moyes as well as anybody who has ever worked with him. Appointed as his assistant in the summer of 2002, just a few months after Moyes' arrival at Goodison, Irvine was chosen because of his credentials as a coach and the impressive work he had done as Newcastle United's Academy director. The fact he was also a former Everton player was an added bonus.

The two men quickly forged an impressive working relationship and during Irvine's five years as Moyes' number two, the Blues were transformed into regular qualifiers for Europe.

From the outside looking in, such a transformation in form, results and expectations was masterminded by a strict, focussed, disciplinarian.

But, as Irvine explains, there are so many more dimensions to the man.

"I think people think that he is a lot harder and tougher than he actually is,” he revealed. “He is very demanding, there is no question about that, but he starts by being very demanding of himself.

"If anything goes wrong the first person he looks at is himself, he is not someone who demands a lot from others but nothing from himself. He sets himself very high standards. As a person, he is a very generous person – he is somebody who treats people extremely well.

He is very demanding, there is no question about that, but he starts by being very demanding of himself.
- Alan Irvine

"He does have a soft side to him which people don’t expect him to have or don’t think he has.

“He is a very caring person who looks after people extremely well. He wouldn’t be as successful as he is, in today’s game, if he wasn’t good at managing people and that is something that you can only do if you empathise with people and that is something he does very well."

Moyes is very much a hands-on boss who spends long hours at the training ground. He is always available, always willing to listen but, equally, never afraid to deal with problems head on.

Irvine added: "He is very welcoming, he has an office that is always open to people if they feel they have a need to go in and speak to him. He listens to people, he’ll consider what they have to say and then he will make decisions. He is no pushover but he is no tyrant either.

"Does he speak to people who need speaking to? Of course!

James Beattie celebrates his goal against VillarrealIrvine helped Moyes lead Everton into the Champions League

“That is part of the job, but it doesn’t mean that you need to go ranting and raving, which is not something he does a great deal. I think that maybe people have a misconception about him in that way, I think he looks more fearsome than he actually is. He is just a very good man manager as well as being a very good coach."

There can be no debating that fact. There are very few managers who have remained at the helm of a top flight club for a decade, particularly in an era when Premier League Chairmen have become increasingly twitchy with their trigger fingers.

"Everybody knows how quickly managers change in football these days, far too quickly," continued Irvine.

"David deserves a huge amount of credit for being in a job like this for as long as he has been. I have to say the Chairman and board of directors deserve a lot of credit as well. There were times when they may have panicked, but they haven’t done, and they have realised what a good manager they have. They have stuck by him and everybody has benefited for that."

That faith has been repaid many times over. There have been a number of highlights in the last decade; the march to Wembley in 2009, the thrilling UEFA Cup campaign of 2007/08 and a number of famous victories over the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

But arguably the biggest achievement of Moyes' tenure was breaking the stranglehold of the so-called big four to seal a Champions League place with a fourth place finish in 2004/05.

Irvine reflects: "It was a huge achievement and obviously David, along with everybody else, was absolutely thrilled about it. He would be the best person to tell you exactly how he was feeling, but one thing is for sure, the time to celebrate that was there and then.

"It wasn’t the ideal preparation for the next game against Arsenal, everybody knows what happened then and that tells you how important it is to go into a game properly focussed.

"But it was a massive achievement and something that we rightly enjoyed.”

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