This day, that year: David Moyes debuts in the Premier League with Everton, 18 years ago
- On this day 18 years ago, David Moyes made a winning debut in the Premier League.
- The Scotsman heralded a revolution at the Goodison Park with a win in his opening game.
David Moyes has been around the managerial block for several years now. Presently, he is the longest active head-coach in the English Premier League.
Yet, the Scotsman is never really seen amongst the most decorated managers in the league's top-flight history. That's partly down to a lack of silverware in his cabinet, relative dearth of experience at the management's high table, and even failure at the very top with Manchester United.
What Moyes is mainly revered for, is for his longevity. And today's day marks an important occasion in that regard, for exactly 18 years ago, he presided over his first ever Premier League game with Everton, the club where he established his career.
Another unsuspecting Scotsman comes to the fore
Until then, the only well-known or arguably the most well-known Scottish figure in the Premier League was of course Sir Alex Ferguson. The ex-Red Devils gaffer had only recently did the unprecedented treble, and was hoping to defend the league crown for a fourth year in a row.
Arsenal were emerging to a reckoning force and the fiercest rival in United's endeavor, whereas Liverpool, under Gerard Houllier, had serious ambitions of lifting it's maiden Premier League title.
At the other end of the table though, far away from all the chaos and cacophony of the elites, were a reeling Everton side in desperate need of a change. Walter Smith was shown the door after a hopelessly poor run that yielded only seven victories from 30 as the Toffees languished 16th in the table and hovered just above the drop zone.
Moyes, fresh from guiding Preston North End to the First Division play-off final in what was the culmination of a successful four-year stint, took over the helm. At his unveiling on 14 March 2002, he said,
"I am from a city (Glasgow) that is not unlike Liverpool. I am joining the people's football club. The majority of people you meet on the street are Everton fans. It is a fantastic opportunity, something you dream about. I said 'yes' right away as it is such a big club."
Just two days later, he stood in the dugout for his first Premier League game in charge.
Off to a winning start
Everton were at home to fellow strugglers Fulham, who by then had blown up a promising start to the campaign to plunge into mid-table mediocrity.
Much to the fans' delight, Moyes' revolution was heralded just 32 seconds into the match as David Unsworth fired the hosts into the lead. Just 11 minutes later, Duncan Ferguson, the club's top-scorer that season, doubled the advantage.
Everything that could possibly go right, was going right. Everton's blistering start to the match erased months-long pain and agony and had the fans dreaming again.
Steed Malbranque would pull one back for the visitors, but that was nothing more than a consolation as the Toffees held on to secure a victory, and Moyes was off to a winning start.
The rest, as they say, is history
The Merseysiders could only attain a 15th place finish that season, but Moyes led them to lofty heights in the following years. They were consistently within the top eight teams, and even finished fourth in 2004, the club's highest finish since 1988.
Everton's resurgence under Moyes translated into improved results in Europe too, as they participated in Champions League's qualifying rounds, but the pinnacle of his tenure has to be when Moyes guided his side to the FA Cup final in 2008/09, where they eventually lost to Chelsea.
So when Moyes eventually left Goodison Park in 2014, he was a club legend, despite trophies eluding his terrific 12-year long tenure. And at the time of his departure, he was the longest serving manager after only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
His stints with every other club since leaving Everton have been nothing to write home about, but the club too, have had their fare share of struggles in finding an apt replacement.Published 16 Mar 2020, 20:22 IST