David Moyes Leads the Flops of the 2016-17 Premier League Season


London – From two underwhelming managerial stints in the north-east to a struggling goalkeeper at a leading contender, here are the Guardian Sport’s flops of the 2016-17 Premier League season:

David Moyes

It is baffling to think that they were getting ready to welcome the Moyesiah at Old Trafford this time four years ago. If Moyes could turn back the clock, it is unlikely that he would accept Manchester United’s offer to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson. But how could he have possibly known that landing his dream job would lead to this nightmarish turn of events? Try as Moyes might to remind the world of his undeniably excellent work at Everton, all anyone can see now is the man whose limitations at the highest level were exposed in one of the more brutal ways imaginable, leaving his reputation in tatters and raising his inherent caution to such debilitating levels that now he is known as the Energy Vampire at Sunderland, draining the spirit of the people around him. He was nothing short of a disaster at the Stadium of Light. He arrived with a defeatist attitude, waved the white flag as relegation approached and was fortunate not to lose his job after being caught making disparaging remarks to a female BBC interviewer. It is true that Sunderland’s many problems are not all down to Moyes, but what did he do to lift the malaise? Most football supporters can stomach losing – it comes with the territory. What they cannot abide, however, is watching their team roll over every week, so the majority of Sunderland’s supporters will not be losing any sleep now that Moyes will not be managing their side in the Championship, after he resigned the day after the final game of the season.

Aitor Karanka

The Spaniard employed a different brand of negativity to the type favored by Moyes, but it was no less damaging to his team’s survival hopes. The warning signs were already there for Middlesbrough, who were goal-shy even while winning automatic promotion from the Championship last season, and Karanka stubbornly failed to rectify concerns that a lack of verve would be their downfall in a tougher league. His focus on defense was too great and while Middlesbrough were stingy at the back, they failed to find the right balance between defense and attack. They were a chore to watch and their players often looked bored and uninspired. The division’s lowest scorers should have replaced Karanka long before his sacking in March.

Simone Zaza

Taking your pick from the collection of rogues signed by West Ham last summer isn’t easy. For instance, Álvaro Arbeloa’s only league start came in an awful 3-0 defeat to Southampton and the veteran right-back, who picked up three bookings in four appearances, has not been seen since a wretched 5-1 thrashing against Arsenal in December. André Ayew, signed for £20m, tore a thigh muscle on his debut. Havard Nordtveit has threatened to redefine mediocrity. Gokhan Tore stunk the place out before getting injured in October. Presented with an easy chance against Stoke, Jonathan Calleri produced a farcical rabona. But the floppiest of them all was the Italy international who was supposed to solve West Ham’s striking woes. West Ham paid a £5m loan fee to bring in Zaza from Juventus and would have been obliged to part with another £20m if he had reached 14 Premier League appearances, negotiating that must make the taxpayer wonder how the east Londoners secured such a sweet deal for the London Stadium. Zaza made 11 appearances in all competitions, failed to score once, sent one shot out for a throw and left in January. Still, at least he wasn’t allowed near penalties.

Claudio Bravo

Here is a goalkeeper who won two La Liga titles and seven major titles overall with Barcelona and who played a starring role for Chile in their Copa América triumphs in 2015 and 2016 and in reaching Sunday’s Confederations Cup final. He arrived in England with a reputation for being good with his feet, which seemed to make him the perfect fit for Pep Guardiola, who had decided that Joe Hart no longer had a part to play at Manchester City. Yet Bravo has struggled ever since his shaky debut in the Manchester derby, when his error led to a goal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Chilean was sent off at Camp Nou in October and at one point even his shot-stopping abilities deserted him – Bravo failed to make a single save when City lost 4-0 at Everton in January. Guardiola’s intentions are possible to understand in theory, but it isn’t working.

Wilfried Bony

The Ivorian was one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League before leaving Swansea City at the start of 2015, but he has become an irrelevance since then. The 28-year-old has failed to impress on loan at Stoke City. Deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City, it was reasonable to assume that Bony would regain his form once he started playing regularly again and there was a brief hint of a resurgence when he scored twice in the win over Swansea in October. But those were Bony’s only goals for Stoke. He has not featured since departing for the Africa Cup of Nations in January and clubs will think twice before making a move for him this summer.

The Guardian Sport

David Moyes’ Old-School Ways Helped Drag Ailing Sunderland over the Edge


London – Within hours of becoming Sunderland’s manager last July David Moyes boarded a privately chartered plane. He and the team were bound for a French training camp but an ominous grinding noise from the engines and slightly tense looks exchanged among the cabin crew soon confirmed they would be making a detour.

Engine failure had prompted an awkward emergency landing. With the benefit of hindsight, it seemed an ominously emblematic portent of an impending season destined to conclude with the club bumping down hard into the Championship and Moyes’s carefully burnished reputation in ruins.

The harbingers of trouble ahead did not end there. About to touch down at a small Austrian airport before a pre-season friendly, Sunderland’s plane subsequently endured a further drama. With a safe landing deemed impossible, the engines throttled ferociously, the aircraft’s noise pitched violently upwards and a shaken Moyes realized they were, in aviation parlance, “going round”, in other words taking off again.

Although it set lights flashing and alarms buzzing while briefly electrifying the atmosphere in the air traffic control tower, the pilot landed at the second attempt and always seemed to have a potentially high-risk situation under control. In sharp contrast Sunderland’s manager never really had a grip on a toxic Wearside inheritance.

With relegation confirmed by Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat against Bournemouth, Moyes has dropped heavy hints he could well shortly part company with the club and, if so, there will be few tears. The former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager may be only 54 but his strangely dated mind-set has arguably exacerbated Sunderland’s long-standing stasis.

If, off the pitch, his observations that two of his African players, Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong, required more “Britishness” in their football jarred, on it, Sunderland’s tactics have frequently seemed somewhat binary for a division filled with kaleidoscopic positional rotation and ever shifting systems. Some players reputedly found training slightly old-fashioned.

The impression this may be a man stuck in his ways and reluctant to challenge received wisdoms was reinforced when Moyes claimed teams “don’t win things” with back threes.

Further question marks appeared when a manager who spent £30m last summer set about signing several players he had previously worked with at Everton and Manchester United, including Victor Anichebe and the United loanee Adnan Januzaj.

Having failed properly to address the squad’s chronic lack of pace and creativity, Sunderland’s seventh manager in five turbulent years consistently sidelined the gifted Wahbi Khazri, a playmaking success under Sam Allardyce last spring.

Sunderland fans cannot comprehend why Allardyce’s successor failed to acquire the former France midfielder Yann M’Vila, outstanding on loan last season, and available for £7m from Rubin Kazan, but Moyes was fast discovering that, to echo Kevin Keegan, the job “wasn’t like it said in the brochure”.

If he possibly did not fight hard enough for M’Vila, Sunderland’s dismal recent performances should be assessed in the context of some significant managerial mitigating factors.

Last July Moyes was unaware that Ellis Short, the owner and a man initially delighted to secure the Scot’s services at the fifth attempt, hoped to sell the club. Neither did he appreciate the scale of the debt – currently £110m with wages representing an alarming 78 percent of turnover.

After a series of grueling relegation battles Sunderland were an established bottom-five Premier League club shouldering a top-10 wage bill. Had Allardyce, highly impressive on Wearside last season when his sports science regimen raised fitness levels dramatically, not been lured away to, very briefly, coach England, he may conceivably have broken this cycle of struggle. Yet well before his departure the current Crystal Palace manager’s relationship with Short had become severely strained, with the transfer budget a sore point.

Privately Moyes – who considered resigning last autumn – feels similarly let down. His critics, meanwhile, argue that his limitations, particularly in the recruitment sphere, have been horribly exposed by Hull City’s Marco Silva. The Portuguese, after taking over in January and immediately selling his two best players, Robert Snodgrass and Jake Livermore, for a combined £20m, revitalized the club with seven eclectic imports, five on loan.

Whereas Hull recruited cleverly Sunderland have bought very badly in recent years, with only four of their past 47 signings sold on for a profit. Short has acknowledged this in a written apology to supporters.

It dictates that, despite crowds frequently in excess of 45,000 and a very well-appointed training facility – Allardyce said it was the best he had worked at – Sunderland and success have long been strangers.

Whoever is in charge next season will preside over radical change in an unforgiving Championship. With nine senior professionals, including Jan Kirchhoff, John O’Shea and Seb Larsson, out of contract in June a squad overhaul beckons.

A clause in Jermain Defoe’s contract permits the England striker to depart for free but Jordan Pickford’s excellent goalkeeping, featuring some brilliant footwork, will prompt a high-price transfer and the center-half Lamine Koné should also command a decent fee.

Talented as that trio are few disagree with Moyes’s oft-repeated assertion that, collectively, the squad is “limited”.

The Guardian Sport

Sunderland Fans Expose David Moyes’ Decline and Could Spark His Fall

David Moyes feels he is paying for predecessors’ recruitment mistakes at Sunderland, has been unlucky with injuries and wants time to conduct root and branch reform. Photograph: Scott Heppell/Reuters

This time four years ago David Moyes was about to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United but today he is struggling to restore his tattered reputation at Sunderland where a significant proportion of supporters want him sacked.

It has been quite a fall from grace for the former Everton, United and Real Sociedad manager who endured chants of “We want Moyes out” from all corners of an unusually hostile Stadium of Light during Sunderland’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United on Saturday. There were also choruses of “David Moyes had a dream, to fuck our football team” and boos when the home manager ventured from his dugout.

Despite Sunderland’s position – bottom of the Premier league and nine points adrift of the 17th-placed Hull City – Ellis Short, the club’s owner, is not minded to sack the Scot, but may be forced to rethink should anger build during the remaining two home games, against Bournemouth and Swansea City.

Moyes, meanwhile, has made it clear he has no intention of resigning and is determined to rebuild Sunderland in the second tier while challenging for immediate promotion.

He maintains that he inherited a poisoned chalice at a club now around £140m in debt and who, in recent years, have consistently occupied the Premier League’s bottom five positions despite a top-10 wage bill.

As Sunderland’s seventh manager in five years Moyes feels he is paying for predecessors’ recruitment mistakes, has been unlucky with injuries and wants time to conduct root and branch reform. His critics’ riposte is that his tactics have been unimaginatively one-dimensional and his prolonged marginalisation of Wahbi Khazri, arguably Sunderland’s most gifted individual, self-destructive.

Above all, they have been dismayed by the persistently downbeat demeanour of a manager who, as early as last August, declared that a relegation battle beckoned, and underwhelmed by a series of low-key, low-impact signings including Darron Gibson and Donald Love, almost all of whom had played for Moyes at Everton or Manchester United.

Reconstructing the squad will involve a major overhaul this summer as, by way of exacerbating the manager’s problems, his Italian forward Fabio Borini has revealed the dressing room has been fractured by internal divisions.

Without a home league win since mid-December, Sunderland have long seemed destined for the Championship but, paradoxically, Saturday represented the team’s best performance for some time.

Unfortunately for Moyes the crowd were able to use the fact that his side’s first goals in eight games were scored by Wahbi Khazri and Borini, two players he has persistently sidelined, as a stick with which to beat him. “Are you watching David Moyes,” they sang as Khazri, a Tunisian playmaker starting his first game since October, scored direct from a corner to equalise André Ayew’s early opener.

James Collins restored West Ham’s lead before Borini, only brought off the bench as Billy Jones had been taken off with concussion, snatched an equaliser before celebrating, somewhat provocatively, with a knee slide in front of the home bench.

Afterwards Borini revealed that there had been behind-the-scenes tensions within the squad this term. “We have not been as united as a group as in previous seasons, that’s what probably has been the problem,” the Italian said. “There have been a little bit of problems within the dressing room but that’s for us to deal with. To keep going now we have to be more united than ever before.”

Remarkably, attendances at the Stadium of Light have averaged well over 40,000 per game this season and Saturday was the first time a hitherto extraordinarily loyal crowd have turned on the manager.

“The chants were to be expected,” said Moyes, who will shortly discover whether he faces sanction from the Football Association in the wake of the unfortunate comments he directed towards the BBC’s Vicki Sparks last month. “The manager and the team are not doing well and they are entitled to take their frustration out on somebody. It’s nearly always the manager and I have no issue with that. I have to accept it. I just remember I’ve got the third or fourth best win record of any Premier League manager.”

With Khazri most people’s man of the match, Moyes was asked why he had excluded a key player during Sunderland’s avoidance of relegation under Sam Allardyce last spring for so long. “I can only tell you my choice has been to play other people because of what I have seen,” said the 53-year-old who, earlier this season, turned down a chance to sign Dimitar Berbatov, the currently unattached former Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United striker. “But Wahbi was good today, much more disciplined.”

Tellingly, when Khazri scored Moyes sat with his arms folded while the rest of Sunderland’s bench applauded.

(The New York Times)

Toxic Mood at Relegation-Threatened Sunderland Is Helping Nobody


Managerial stability is supposed to promote reassurance, a sense of safety even, but its belated advent at Sunderland has merely prompted widespread insecurity.

Last July David Moyes became the club’s seventh manager in five turbulent seasons as Ellis Short vowed to end his seemingly interminable cycle of hirings and firings. Subsequent results may have tested the owner’s resolve – paradoxically, Moyes appears in acute danger of being the first of the American financier’s appointments to lose a relegation skirmish – but even if Sunderland do go down, the Scot will be allowed to rebuild in the Championship next season.

By then, though, as many as 60 familiar faces may have disappeared from club corridors. In February, scores of employees received emails from Martin Bain, the chief executive, warning that their jobs were at risk. This has created a somewhat toxic atmosphere, particularly among those staff members who had never spoken to Margaret Byrne’s successor in the wake of his installation last June and suspect the former Rangers and Maccabi Tel Aviv CEO might be a bit hazy as to what their roles actually entail.

The latest issue of Private Eye reflects wholesale shock that Rob Mason, the erudite, highly respected editor of Sunderland’s multiple-award-winning program Red and White features in the at risk category. It points out that with it having either won, or been runner-up, in Program of the Year for each of the past nine years, Mason is the club’s only proven winner.

In mitigation Bain and Moyes – whose bottom-placed team face key games at Watford on Saturday and Leicester on Tuesday – have inherited considerable problems at a club currently around £140m in debt. If recording such staggering losses during an era when Premier League clubs are rich beyond belief seems almost incomprehensible, one particularly damning statistic explains Sunderland’s plight. Of the past 46 signings made by assorted managers only four, Darren Bent, Simon Mignolet, Patrick van Aanholt and James McClean have been sold on for profit.

The collateral damage caused by such chronically poor investment has not only spread to Sunderland’s back offices but also community projects in Africa and the club’s once flagship women’s team. It is not so long ago that Sunderland Ladies, inspired by Beth Mead’s goals and Carlton Fairweather’s astute coaching, threatened to rival Manchester City and Chelsea at the top of the Super League.

Mead is now at Arsenal and Fairweather unemployed after the team’s reversion to part-time status. Aware that a nucleus of the current England side – including Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott – began their careers on Wearside, Byrne had made Fairweather’s side a priority before resigning in the wake of her failure to suspend Adam Johnson before the winger’s conviction and imprisonment for sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

Almost a year later, Bain’s judgment was questioned when he announced the impending wholesale redundancies shortly after sanctioning an extremely expensive bonding trip to New York in February enjoyed by Moyes and the players.

The manager and chief executive, both Glaswegians, have established a bond so strong that some insiders suspect they may have talked each out of resigning last autumn, when it became apparent that Short wanted to sell – he is now apparently resigned to the reality that it may be some years before a buyer is found – and Moyes realized the January transfer kitty was empty.

As winter bit, Bain accepted the resignation of Gary Hutchinson, the previously influential commercial director, and Moyes proved increasingly unsparing in his descriptions of the squad’s limitations.

If there is little doubt that he has been dealt a horrible hand, some fans are concerned the former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager harbors too many old-fashioned notions.

More specifically, the 53-year-old’s recent claims that he dropped Gabon’s Didier Ndong, Sunderland’s record£13.5m signing, because he wanted “more Britishness” in midfield and needed to “put more Britishness” into his £8m Senegal center-half Papy Djilobodji’s game raised concerns about his ability to breathe new life into a side badly missing the injured winger Duncan Watmore.

Indeed, with Watmore’s energies diverted into saving the lives of three pensioners after a boating accident off Barbados, where he was on a convalescent holiday, the only man who looks capable of resuscitating them is Jermain Defoe.

Without the newly recalled England striker’s goals Sunderland would probably be in the second tier already, but the bad news is that a clause in Defoe’s contract grants the 34-year-old a free transfer in the event of relegation.

Moyes clings to the hope it will not come to that. “We’re not down,” he says. “And we’re not planning to go down. We’re planning to stay up.”

(The Guardian)

Manchester United Still Making Up for Louis Van Gaal’s Expensive Lost Time

Morgan Schneiderlin’s £24m transfer to Manchester United in July 2015 did not prove the dream move he expected.

One has to feel a little bit sorry for Morgan Schneiderlin somewhere along the line, even if the basic reason his move to Manchester United did not work out was because he could not prove himself a better midfield option than the 35-year-old Michael Carrick.

United splurging all that money on Paul Pogba did not help either, though even with the world’s most expensive player in the lineup this season Carrick has still been getting the nod over Schneiderlin and José Mourinho was being somewhat economical with the truth when he suggested on Tuesday that he had been reluctant to agree a deal with Everton because the player could still have been an option at Old Trafford.

Schneiderlin was an option for Mourinho like Bastian Schweinsteiger was an option. Someone not only a long way behind Pogba, Carrick and Ander Herrera but even a way off Marouane Fellaini when it came to sending on a midfield substitute to try to influence a game. Joining United from Southampton might have been a dream come true for the Frenchman but rejoining Ronald Koeman at an Everton whose season is effectively over already is confirmation that the dream stalled some time ago.

All of which begs the question, just how many of the players Louis van Gaal signed for a total of around £250m did work out? Schneiderlin, once the Everton deal goes through, can be added to a list of short stays from the Dutch manager’s troubled two-year tenure that is only likely to grow, even if United managed to recoup the bulk of the £24m they paid for the midfielder. A full roll call of Van Gaal’s big-money signings for United would include Ángel Di María (£59m), Anthony Martial (£35m), Luke Shaw (£26m), Memphis Depay (£25m), Herrera (£29m), Schneiderlin (£24m), Marcos Rojo (£14m), Schweinsteiger (£14m), Daley Blind (£12.5m) and Matteo Darmian (£12m). Not forgetting loans and frees such as Radamel Falcao, Víctor Valdés and Sergio Romero.

Not all of those turned out to be complete flops – and one or two might argue that their careers were sabotaged by Mourinho’s indifference – but it is still not a very impressive list, is it? Particularly as Van Gaal was initially welcomed at Old Trafford as the antidote to David Moyes, as a man who could talk to super-agents and their clients and a manager known around the world capable of attracting top-level talent to United by persuading them the club were on the up again. Four of the above 13 players (if we include Schneiderlin), have already left the club, and Depay and Schweinsteiger are not expected to hang around much longer. So regardless of money recovered, that’s a success rate of only around 50%.

Of the ones still on United’s books, Darmian and Romero could not be described as complete successes either, and Shaw’s and Rojo’s Old Trafford careers have been complicated by injury as well as non-selection. Blind is finding himself out of the team at the moment, though he is a useful player to have around, can play in a number of positions, and for the relatively modest fee represents good value. Martial looked a tremendous signing when he first arrived, and still has plenty of time to live up to his fee, though he too has found himself out of the team of late, his chances limited by the emergence of Marcus Rashford and Mourinho’s acquisition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

That is not really Van Gaal’s fault – Martial remains an astute signing – though the bottom line is that only Herrera is now regularly holding down a place. The irony being, of course, that Herrera does not really count as a Van Gaal signing. He might have arrived on the Dutchman’s watch but United were trying to sign him at least a year earlier, and had Athletic Bilbao played ball he would have gone down as one of Moyes’s first captures.

None of this really matters now; Mourinho has his own ideas and preferences, United are on a nine‑game winning run and a club with its own tractor and noodle partners can probably afford to get more wrong than right when spending £250m in two years. Yet despite the very real recovery under Mourinho – United could climb to within two points of Liverpool if they beat Jürgen Klopp’s team on Sunday – there is a feeling that the club is still making up for lost time and the churn of players is still taking effect.

Liverpool have not been playing quite as well as their lofty league position suggests. In recent weeks they have not always been at the level their demanding manager expects, though they are expected to arrive at Old Trafford as the more settled team with a well-honed way of playing that suits the personnel at Klopp’s disposal. That does not make them favorites, though it might explain why Mourinho has been asking just about everyone at Old Trafford to raise their game at the weekend.

This is a big test for United. Apart from the game against Tottenham that kicked off their current unbeaten league run, they have not played a top-six side since Arsenal in November. The game at Anfield in October was a goalless draw, but that was before everyone came to realize that this season the top four positions would most likely be decided by results in games when top six sides played each other. United could afford to be a little bit sloppy – Mourinho’s words – against Hull in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, they could afford to be without Ibrahimovic and they could even force a smile as Mkhitaryan kept coming up with new ways to miss the target.

On Sunday, especially with an added day of rest over Liverpool, they will be needing everything to click into place. It is perhaps an exaggeration to suggest that after three years of rebuilding, rethinking and rescheduling United have finally arrived at evaluation day, though in the context of the rivalry with Liverpool, possibly not the most enormous one.

(The Guardian)

David Moyes: If I have to Win Ugly I’ll Do it … then Improve the Ugly Bit

David Moyes

David Moyes did not need long to consider the question. Sunderland’s manager, their fifth in three and a half turbulent years, had just been asked if he would be happy to finish fourth-bottom of the Premier League next spring.

“Yes, I think I’d take it,” he said, before adding an important caveat, emphasising his ambition of being the man to end Wearside’s seemingly interminable cycle of short-term fixes and seat-of-the-pants relegation escapes. “I’d take it if I felt I’d brought players in who would help us progress, give us a backbone.”

The former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager made it clear such resilient spines take time to knit and cannot be constructed overnight. Yet without such a framework it will be impossible to fulfil his twin aims of restoring Sunderland to a position of eminence and proving he really is one of the game’s best managers.

Moyes remains convinced United did not offer him a proper chance and suggested Louis van Gaal’s troubled Old Trafford reign highlights precisely why patience was required.

“Managing Manchester United gave me an unbelievable idea of what life’s like at the top,” said the 53-year-old, looking slim, trim and slightly understated in a smart but conservative blue suit and tie. “I believe that [the top] is where I can work and where I should be working and where my level is. That’s what I saw in the time I was there.”

The shattering experience of being sacked only 10 months after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson could easily have broken a different personality but Moyes feels strengthened – and, strangely, vindicated – by that sojourn.

“You don’t get offered those big jobs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United – for no reason,” reflected a coach whose latest club have not made a signing this summer. “I’ve said all along I was unfairly treated there. When you sign a six-year contract and you end up with 10 months … I didn’t win enough matches but you must say there were mitigating circumstances. And I think you could say there are maybe things which have gone on since then that would actually justify that even more so.”

As Van Gaal’s once sure touch began to desert him in Manchester, Moyes was experiencing Spanish culture shock at Real Sociedad with that job, too, culminating in the sack last November.

“I had a great time in Spain and I believe I’m a better manager now,” he said. “I got a chance to see a different culture, a different mentality, a different type of football, a different way of doing things. There’s an awful lot of bullshit out there but it was a great experience.

“In Spain I came up against arguably the best teams in the world and the best players in the world. I hope to be able to use what I’ve learnt here.”

His reputation may have taken a few knocks since he left behind 11 largely successful years at Everton but Moyes’s confidence remains undented. “I don’t think I’ve anything to prove,” he said. “I think I’ve got the fourth best win record of any Premier League manager. I have a big job here to get the right players in, with the mentality I need to be able to change things and play the way I want.”

If that style is likely to be slightly less pragmatic than that of his predecessor, the England manager, Sam Allardyce, Moyes made it clear he is no slave to philosophy. The days when Lee Congerton, Sunderland’s former director of football, spoke of the team pioneering “a Spanish style with a British heart” and Martin O’Neill, another managerial predecessor, dreamed of turning them into “another Barcelona” are clearly long gone. “What I want to do is win,” said Moyes, sounding very much in keeping with the zeitgeist of an era in which Leicester City are Premier League champions and similarly unfrilly Portugal won the European Championship.

“I’d like to excite our supporters. I want to see crosses and goals scored with the head and I want to see good defending. There are very few successful teams that don’t have the best defence. We saw a different European Championship this summer and I think England are now saying they’d like to go back to a playing style which is normal for them.

“People want to see winning football, commitment and a good attitude. I want all that too but I also want to see my team improve and be good on the ball. There’ll be differences to Sam. But, if I have to win ugly I’ll do it, then try to improve the ugly bit.”

There has been precious little beauty about either Sunderland’s football or loss-revealing balance sheets in recent years and Moyes appreciates many peers may regard his task as unenviable. “The biggest thing is that squad’s short of numbers,” he said. “It’s down from last season. There’s no doubt we have to make signings.

“We’re short of a right-back, we’ve only got one centre-forward in Jermain Defoe [whose thigh injury makes him touch and go to be fit for the start of the season] and I’d like to strengthen in most areas but, the truth is, I won’t get it all done this summer.”

In an ideal world Moyes would sign Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj from Manchester United. “I’d love to get that level of player, that’s my aim,” he said, before suggesting Januzaj was a rather more realistic prospective signing than Fellaini. “If those players want to come to the north-east I’ll drive down to Manchester and pick them up.”

That pair would walk straight into a side who only narrowly escaped relegation in May.

“I think Sam did brilliantly to keep Sunderland up; what he did was amazing, incredible,” Moyes said. “I turned this job down last autumn [before Allardyce succeeded Dick Advocaat] and the main reason was because I didn’t think they could survive.”

Since then Sunderland have returned the loanees Yann M’Vila and DeAndre Yedlin to Rubin Kazan and Tottenham respectively. “We need competition for places,” Moyes said. “At the moment we don’t have that.”

Ellis Short disappointed Allardyce with the size of his transfer budget this summer but Moyes, courted several times previously by Sunderland’s owner, clearly retains faith in both the American financier and Martin Bain, the new chief executive.

“Ellis has given me carte blanche to do what I need,” Moyes said. “I trust him. Am I going to get a player at £50m? No. But I know he will do everything he can to make things happen for me and I’ve also been really impressed with Martin Bain. I have assurances we can improve the squad. We may not be paying outrageous figures but wheeling and dealing is part of the job now.”

In many ways the new challenge reminds him of the once he faced at Goodison Park. “I’ve had many opportunities to take other Premier League jobs and also to work abroad again,” Moyes said.

“The Premier League has an exciting group of managers and I want to compete against them but the big thing is Sunderland’s brilliant potential.

“We get around 45,000 fans every week, we’ve got a great stadium and training ground, and we’ve got an owner who reminds me an awful lot of Bill Kenwright at Everton. Bill allowed me to build a club. I didn’t have a great deal of money – £5m a year was all I was ever allowed – but I think our recruitment was as good as anywhere. I’d argue we had the best recruitment in the Premier League’s history.

“I think Sunderland have got a lot more in place than Everton – the stadium for example. But we need to change from just bobbing along at the bottom of the league and I hope I get time to put my vision in place. We can’t always just buy players just to stay up. We have to bring in players for the long term who will maybe take six months to make an impact but are right for our journey.

“If we don’t progress, we could fall off the cliff at any time – but I’m confident in my ability. If I can build a good team, we’ll get this place jumping. That excites me.”

David Moyes, Sunderland Look the Right Fit for Premier League Stability

David Moyes

London- Sunderland might well be furious with the Football Association for poaching Sam Allardyce, fearful of upheaval close to a Premier League season and dreading another round of instability with a seventh manager in five years. But, in David Moyes and in time, they might also be grateful for the unplanned disruption visited upon them. Both parties may have finally found the right fit.

Ellis Short has secured the services on a four-year contract of “my No1 managerial target for the last five appointments”. It is no stretch to imagine the turbulence of the Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat eras would never have hit the Stadium of Light had Sunderland’s owner found his target from the start.

Short sounded out the Scot when Dick Advocaat planned to retire in May 2015. Moyes resisted out of a debt of loyalty to Jokin Aperribay, the Real Sociedad president who went to great lengths to convince him to start anew in Spain after the misery of Manchester United.

The American called again last October when Advocaat, having abandoned the retirement plans, offered to resign. Again Moyes said no. He was anxious to correct a faltering start to the season with Sociedad and avoid a second successive failure on his CV. Within a fortnight, with Short having turned to Allardyce for salvation from another relegation scrap, Moyes’s 17-year managerial career was blemished by a second dismissal, 19 months after the first.

It is worth revisiting the reasons Sunderland struggled to land Moyes previously as that sense of duty and desire to redress the failure of Old Trafford can now work to their advantage. Both club and manager desperately need stability and to reassert their Premier League credentials.

The 53-year-old’s stock has fallen dramatically since that day in May 2013 when Goodison Park said farewell to Everton’s manager of 11 years with a standing ovation despite him leaving for United and without compensation. Damaging mistakes in Manchester and San Sebastián cost a conscientious and decent man two lifelong ambitions – to succeed with unlimited resources at the highest level in England and develop his coaching skills abroad. Accepting the United ordeal cannot be pinned entirely on Ed Woodward’s inexperience in the transfer market may help Moyes start afresh at the Stadium of Light.

Just as Moyes appeared a comfortable fit for Everton for most of his Goodison reign, so he was a strange choice by a supposedly well-prepared United and Sir Alex Ferguson. Style of play – better than he was given credit for at Everton but too conservative in comparison with Ferguson – lack of silverware and unease under an intense media spotlight were in evidence before his Old Trafford coronation. But that is not to deny the Glaswegian is a manager of Premier League substance. In many respects, he is precisely what Sunderland require even though the timing of their latest managerial change presents problems for the start of the season.

Everton flirted with relegation several times – an all too familiar theme at the Stadium of Light – before Moyes replaced Walter Smith in 2002. His first act was to jettison Paul Gascoigne from the Everton dressing room, showing the squad their new young manager would not cower to ageing big names, and he turned the club into regular European contenders despite operating on one of the smallest transfer budgets in the Premier League. Everton’s average net spend over Moyes’ 11 years was a mere £803,000 per season yet they finished sixth, seventh, seventh, eighth, fifth, fifth and sixth in his final seven years in charge.

Moyes will need to repeat the trick at Sunderland given Allardyce was supposedly unhappy the transfer budget was 50% less than he believed necessary. The club has yet to make a signing so far this summer and activating the £5m release clause in Micah Richards’ contract with Aston Villa is unlikely to bring reassurance to Wearside. Their new manager should, however.

A fundamental difference between Moyes’ accomplishments at Everton and failures with United and Real Sociedad is that he had time to identify and develop his own players at Goodison, while he did not at Old Trafford or Anoeta Stadium. Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Joleon Lescott and Seamus Coleman can all testify to Moyes’ ability to turn a bargain into an international.

The support and trust he received from Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has been absent from the manager’s career since May 2013 and Short will need to provide both in the months ahead. The Sunderland owner is looking long-term with the appointment of Moyes. “That David has committed to a four-year deal is a clear demonstration of his belief in what he can achieve here,” said Short.

For all the irritation at Allardyce’s departure, the new England manager had only 12 months left on his Sunderland contract and uncertainty would have reigned throughout next season without the switch. Short-term, no additions to a squad that just survived relegation last season plus fresh managerial upheaval does not bode well, yet Sunderland have replaced a manager adept at constructing a resilient defence with another. Their defensive foundation may not necessarily be rebuilt.

“I look forward to continuing the good work done by Sam,” said Moyes on Saturday.

In many respects Moyes is back where he started in the Premier League in 2002, needing to restore stability, security and pride to a historic but struggling club. He may be forever tainted by the experience of Old Trafford, when the Scot aged visibly under the pressure, but the FA may just have done Sunderland a favor.

The Guardian