David Moyes - Oration
Honorable Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting David Moyes for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
"With a hunger and desire to put even the most dedicated of professionals to shame, David Moyes has dragged every team of which he's ever taken charge in one direction - upwards."
These words of local journalist Andy Hunter in 2003 remain true. David Moyes, the third longest serving manager in the Premier League, is one of the best football managers in the country. After a workmanlike playing career, he became manager at Preston North End, and after four glorious years, moved to become manager at underachieving Everton in March 2002 and set about transforming a side into one to be reckoned with in the Premier League. Since then, despite boardroom turbulence and financial constraints, he has brought consistency to the team, and has enhanced his reputation as an innovative coach with a burning ambition for success.
David William Moyes was born in 1963 at Blythswood, Glasgow, the son of David and Joan Moyes. David senior, a draughtsman in the shipbuilding industry, was a coach at Drumchapel Amateurs, and that’s where David began his football career. He joined Celtic in 1980 at the age of 16, and after winning a championship medal and playing in Europe at Parkhead, he moved to Cambridge United before spells at Bristol City, Shrewsbury Town, Dunfermline Athletic, and Hamilton Academicals. In 1993, he signed for Preston North End where he saw out his playing career.
David was interested in coaching from an early age and gained his first coaching badge when he was only 22. His big coaching opportunity came in 1998: Gary Peters left Preston and David was promoted to become player manager at the age of 34. After relegation to the then 3rd division was narrowly avoided, he retired from playing and focused on bringing an organised passing game to a club formerly reliant on the long-ball. Preston steadily improved, losing in the play-offs in 1999 and the following season becoming champions and securing promotion to the first division. Fans were so delighted with David’s role in restoring pride to Deepdale that they began turning up at matches in tartan hats and ginger wigs. A year later, Preston was in the play-offs once more, just missing out on promotion to the Premiership. Football people started to take notice.
In 2002, having established a reputation as a coach who improves players rather than having to spend on new ones, he was linked with Middlesbrough, Southampton and West Ham United, before taking over from Walter Smith at relegation-threatened Everton. David's arrival led to an instant upturn in the club's fortunes.
In his first press conference he described the fantastic opportunity he’d been given and declared Everton to be the people’s club on Merseyside. His first game in charge was a win against Fulham at Goodison. His reinstatement of Duncan Ferguson as captain was popular with fans and a good run of form followed, ensuring that they avoided relegation, a genuine threat at the time of his appointment.
The inherited squad were second in the Premiership by November 2002, earning David a Manager of the Month award. And with 16 year-old Wayne Rooney in the squad, the Blues ended the season in seventh place, just missing out on European qualification, with David being named the League Manager’s Association Manager of the Year. Then came a bad spell: close to relegation in 2004, then Rooney was sold, leaving Everton as relegation favourites for 2005, and the manager’s position looking less than secure.
However, a new playing structure brought notable success, with a fourth place finish, European qualification, and David once again becoming Manager of the Year. Another disappointing season followed in 2006, but since then, despite a small squad and a modest budget, Everton have been in the top half of the table for 5 years running, with David being named North West Manager of the Year in 2008. Last season, Everton finished in 7th place, unbeaten against Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Since his appointment in 2002, David has been the LMA Manager of the Year 3 times, that’s more than any other manager has achieved, and Manager of the Month 8 times, so to what can we attribute his success?
First, he is a man of unquestioned integrity. He has a reputation as a thinker and his tactical acumen is well known. He has shown his effectiveness in the transfer market by signing promising players from the Championship such as Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka and combining them with some bargain overseas players like Mikel Arteta and Steven Piennar. He is a highly driven person, always in pursuit of success, someone who will never take his position for granted, even suggesting at one stage that he was motivated by a self-imposed fear of failure. He also places an emphasis on real professionalism, demanding supreme fitness and total commitment from his players. Any of those who fall short of his high expectations are quickly taken to task.
David Moyes once suggested that management is like Formula One where you’re limited by the car you’re driving. There is surely some truth in this analogy, but David is in many ways the exception that proves the rule: given David’s circumstances, many top managers would have failed to deliver, whereas Everton has consistently punched above its weight, and this remarkable over-achievement is the true measure of his stature as a manager – a David amongst Goliaths. A man who has managed with great skill in an era when the financial status of a premier league club is a major determinant of success. It is undoubtedly a more challenging era than any other, and provides a strong case for David Moyes to be considered the best manager that Everton has ever had. He brings credit to Everton FC, credit to the city of Liverpool, and we are delighted to honour him today for his achievements as a manager.
Thus I have great pleasure in presenting David Moyes, this most distinguished adopted son of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.
Professor Frank Sanderson
Wednesday 13 July 2011