David Moyes and a misguided hunger for redemption
David Moyes is back in the Premier League. Tasked with reviving the fortunes of West Ham United following the inevitable sacking of Slaven Bilic, the experienced Scot has a big project ahead if he is to turn the Hammers into anything like the club that many of their deluded fans think they should be.
A move to the London Stadium has provided West Ham United with a platform to build from, a base that can support a top-level team and any lofty ambitions that they may have, but they are not a big club yet. But while Moyes brings a wealth of Premier League experience to the role, he arrives with an agenda built only on redemption following a string of failed appointments.
Similarities that would never stretch to success
Replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United was never likely to be an easy task, and even the biggest managerial names in the game would struggle at being the successor to such a unique and successful tenure. Moyes was the man tasked by Ferguson to continue his legacy, and while he was offered little time in hindsight, he will be remembered for his failure to follow in the master's footsteps.
Moyes earned the job at Old Trafford through the progress he made at Everton during the course of over a decade in charge. Although he failed to deliver any silverware at Goodison Park, he brought Champions League football to the club, and he established them as a Premier League club capable of punching around the top six places.
The chosen one
His longevity in the role was a strong point that worked in his favour with Ferguson, and the fact that he had kept Everton hydrated during his time in charge as players came and went mirrored the continuous reinvention that brought Ferguson so much success at Manchester United. With more time, his tenure at Old Trafford could have been different, but the indications were that the club was heading in the wrong direction.
Since that time, Moyes has taken charge of Real Sociedad and Sunderland, and both tenures ended in disappointment. He should be considered fortunate to find himself entrusted with the West Ham United project given his recent failures, and for all his time spent at Everton, it is his brief time at Manchester United that he will ultimately be remembered for.
Moyes had a nomadic playing career that was largely spent in the lower leagues of England and Scotland, and his first managerial job at Preston North End offered an opportunity to raise his profile in the game through a different role. He sufficiently impressed to find himself heading to Everton on the next stage of his career path.
While Everton steadily improved, they mirrored Moyes and his ambition to establish himself as a leading Premier League figure, a status denied to him by his playing career. He succeeded, and his elevation to the top job at Manchester United was his reward, but also his poisoned chalice. No immediate successor to Ferguson was ever likely to succeed, and Moyes merely took one on the chin for the next incumbent.
A reputation tarnished
But in the process, Moyes' managerial career was forever tarnished, and he has since been on a crusade of professional redemption. Two subsequent failures in different circumstances have only added to his frustration, and West Ham United are merely just another vehicle to assist in his career salvation. Even that though may no longer be possible.
However, West Ham United had very different intentions in their appointment of Moyes, and they will not appreciate being used as a pawn in his career path. The controversial owners need Moyes to be focused on keeping their club in the Premier League, and then possibly building towards their long-term goal. If both parties have different intentions, then they will both suffer.
Moyes is naturally still damaged by his failure at Manchester United. It is a sole destroying time in his career and one that will never leave him. The only way is down for a manager like Moyes when you have been shown the Old Trafford exit door, but he can at least salvage his reputation if he can bring some level of success to West Ham.
And it is now or never for Moyes, as he is fortunate to get this latest opportunity, and anything other than immediate success at the London Stadium will make this another difficult tenure. He has to win over the underwhelmed and angry fans that have already voiced their dismay at his appointment, and he is under pressure from the start.
Turning back time
Moyes did a good job at Preston North End and Everton because his focus was different than what it is today. Back then, it was all about building his managerial career after suffering the frustrations of not making it at the highest level as a player. He was building his career and the natural upward trajectory allowed him to establish his name.
Now, Moyes is desperately trying to stop the decline of a managerial career knocked off course upon reaching the summit. His focus is on getting back to where he was at Everton, but his mentality at West Ham cannot be the same as what it was back then, simply because of what he has experienced in between. Moyes is simply not the Moyes that West Ham think they have employed.
And there is nothing that he can do to succeed at West Ham United in the circumstances. His opportunity to manage at the top has come and gone, and all he is doing now is trying to salvage a reputation, rather than continue to build a career. Sadly, his focus means that things are only likely to get worse as a result, and West Ham United are about to suffer as a much as anyone because of it.