Royal Blue Mersey -- the Everton community here on the SB Nation network -- have been kind enough to answer some questions from us on David Moyes. A particular thank you to Calvin for taking the time for this interview.
TBB: I suppose an appropriate opening question might be to ask what the general reaction and mood is with Everton supporters about the news of David Moyes leaving for Old Trafford? Quite obviously, this move for the manager had been speculated for awhile when the day came for Sir Alex Ferguson to step away from his managerial duties.
RBM: You're right, as Everton fans we all knew this day would come soon. There was a genuine fear that after Harry Redknapp was sent packing at Tottenham that Moyes would be headed to White Hart Lane last season. And then there was the laughable rumour that he would be enticed by Aston Villa after they fired Martin O'Neill. We knew all along that the only way Moyes would leave Goodison was if Manchester United came calling.
In all honesty the vast majority of the fanbase is happy for Moyes and proud of his achievements at Everton. We wish him all the very best (except against us!), no one among us begrudges him taking this opportunity. Funnily enough, we are very interested in seeing how he does with bigger coffers and more talent on his squad - it will be a twisted vindication of what could-have-been had we found some oil-laden owner.
Which then brings us to our own future - scared and nervous are just two words that would describe the mood among the Blues fans. Moyes came along at a time of turmoil and stabilized the club, and it would be a crying shame to see another manager come in and stagnate us, or even worse, push back into the hopeless abyss of 7-15 where clubs like Liverpool and Fulham reside.
TBB: Can you discuss how Moyes is as a tactician? From our perspective, he seems to be pragmatic and reactive -- particularly in 'big game', ones where Everton have generally been formidable foes -- while looking to attack opportunistically down the flanks. How flexible is the Scot with his tactics? Does he have any unique characterisitics? Do you think with a squad like Manchester United's, he'll be able to vary his approach a bit more? How is he with his substitutions (i.e. we hope he's not like Rafa Benitez in that he typically only makes like-for-like substitutions, even if it's for his right-back...)?
RBM: It has been very hard to get a handle on Moyes. You feel he is the kind of guy who keeps you guessing at how intelligent he really is, and then proceeds to whip you with that intelligence. Here's an excellent piece that should give you a good idea about how his analytical brain works.
In the eleven years we have had him, he has always adapted his squad to play to their strengths. The run-and-gun side that started this season? We never saw that coming!
Now at United, where he will have a plethora of talent at his disposal, he will have much more liberty to choose his tactics, tailoring them to his opponents' weaknesses. At least for the first few games of the season I expect him to experiment quite a bit as he gets a feel for his side. What you should expect though is a team built on a solid defence and a determined midfield. Fergie in his old age might have given players like Nani some liberties, but Moyes is more in the Antonio Conte mold, and will not tolerate players who do not stick to the program.
My sole criticism of Moyes would be in the substitutions department. However even on that I would be willing to give him some leeway because at Everton he often didn't have any depth players he trusted to bring in. He does take too long to make his substitutions, and often they're not the most effective either.
TBB: How would you rate Moyes' time at Goodison Park? Most seem to believe that he's punched above his weight during his time at Everton and even for those who don't necessarily believe that, no one can say he failed. Do you think that him not winning a trophy is an indictment on this reign? Was one top four finish enough? Or were the plethora of top-half-of-the-table finishes -- something which was rare in the decade before Moyes' arrival -- a massive achievement with context considered?
RBM: Some, especially non-Evertonians, rate his time as a failure because he leaves with no trophies. That is nothing short of ridiculous, as that was never part of his objective. Yes, failures in the Cups is frustrating, and he froze at certain key times (semis against Liverpool, final against Chelsea), but his time at Everton is definitely successful.
You're right, in the context that he was brought in, he has been successful. The budgets and players he has had to work with meant he started with a major handicap and against all like Roberto Mancini and Harry Redknapp have frittered away.
TBB: How do you anticipate Moyes will be able to handle the personalities (and egos) of those in the United dressing room? Ferguson was a master of man-management and the general consensus from the United faithful is that this brought about stability to the club -- will Moyes be able to win over the dressing room? In addition, how do you think he'll deal with the considerable pressure of being Ferguson's successor? The legendary manager has left the club in fantastic shape but there's fear that his shadow will be oppressing.
RBM: If there is one man who is not afraid of the shadow of the steely-glared, gum-chewing, legendary Glaswegian then it's a fellow steely-glared, gum-chewing, legendary Glaswegian. Moyes demands nothing but absolute buy-in of his policies. Fickle egos and the weak-willed need not show up after the summer break.
Another factor is that Moyes has a lot of respect for Fergie, and would be able to listen to his opinions objectively while still having a spine and turning into a yes-man either. They are both control freaks, and as such suit each other. In a lot of administrative matters, you would not even notice that Fergie is gone.
TBB: After it was announced yesterday morning that Ferguson would be retiring, soon-to-be departed chief executive David Gill outlined his ideals for whoever the new manager was to be. The description, for the most part, seemed to paint Moyes. The one blip, though, was Moyes' relative lack of European experience. How do you think he'll fare in the Champions League? Can he achieve European success?
RBM: As you'll have read in the story linked in the first paragraph, Moyes studies the game in an almost maniacal way. I have no doubt he has learned from Everton's failed European forays and will ensure that United show up every midweek ready to play. It is very interesting, and I will definitely be watching United's European adventures closely because I feel Moyes will have United playing more like Bayer Dortmund than like Bayern Munich.
Success? That remains to be seen, especially after observing what Moyes does in the transfer market to beef up the defence and rejuvenate the midfield.
TBB: A few predictable closing questions -- who are the candidates to succeed Moyes at Everton and is there a particular manager that the fans desire? And very simply, do you think Moyes will be a success at United?
RBM: I'll answer the last question first because it's the easiest - yes.
Who will succeed him is an interesting question because candidates abound, some absolutely detestable and some absolutely desirable. I'll tell you who they don't desire - any one of Mark Hughes, Neil Lennon, Malky Mackay, Martin O'Neill, Harry Redknapp, Owen Coyle, Neil Warnock, Alex McLeish, Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis and 'Big Sam' Allardyce.
The leaders among the fans that we have polled on our Twitter page are Michael Laudrup and Roberto Di Matteo, and to a lesser extent Roberto Martinez and Vitor Pereira, or even Rafa Benitez!