Only two managers have overseen more Premier League football matches than David Moyes. Should he beat Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, he’ll have hit an incredible milestone of 250 wins in the league, a figure that only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger can beat.
But Moyes isn’t regarded as a standout success of the Premier League era. He’s currently steering the Hammers away from relegation danger after their European exploits last term and it seems to point to one fact.
Longevity isn’t sexy.
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Moyes deserves huge praise for the work he has done in the top flight. In his first Premier League job, he got Everton fighting for the Champions League places and kept them in contention for the European spots. Perhaps the true appreciation of his work there is only now being realised, given the shambles the Toffees have turned themselves in the decade since he the Scot has left.
He performed so well he was chosen as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, by the man himself. Although a whole host of factors meant he wasn’t a success at Old Trafford perhaps again time has softened the harsh view of his time there from a fans’ perspective. Several managers with stronger CVs than his have tried and failed at that club.
Spells at Real Sociedad and Sunderland came and went before he found his groove again at West Ham. Across two spells, he has finally been able to get settled in another job, and even under pressure this season, he has been able to pull out key results. West Ham won’t get relegated under Moyes, but is that enough for them in this ambitious era?
Moyes is part of the Premier League furniture. So familiar. So steady. But perhaps it is that that makes him go unheralded. The new managers from Europe bring storylines and new ideas to these shores, yet Moyes has adapted his game to span two and a half decades. He’s so far escaped the ‘dinosaur’ tag that older British managers can get lumped with, and after that European adventure, has a fair amount of credit in the bank at the London Stadium.
Sticking around in major jobs for two decades is quite the feat, and his achievement will hopefully be heralded as he reaches that remarkable 250 win mark. He’ll surely never catch Fergie or Wenger on that count, but Moyes is one of several underappreciated managers in the top ten list for games managed in the Premier League.
He’s recently passed Harry Redknapp for games managed. Redknapp, famously not a wheeler and dealer, was loved in retrospect by football fans but again not given the credit he deserved as a top level manager. Fifth on the list is Sam Allaradyce who managed eight clubs in the top flight, and had that iconic Bolton Wanderers side - but by the edge of his career he was pigeon-holed into nothing more than a relegation fire-fighter. He was given the ‘dinosaur’ label, as was the much-maligned Steve Bruce, who battled his way through 476 Premier League games.
His time at Newcastle United and strange desire to manage every pair of rivals in England, has soured his reputation as a manager, but he has enjoyed some success in the top flight. Mark Hughes on 466 and Roy Hodgson on 382 also fall into the same category. Managers that have stuck around for so long, they no longer get credit.
Unless you can stay at one club and achieve huge success, longevity isn’t sexy. Even Wenger’s time at Arsenal came to a sour end - and he was one of the best managers we’ve seen on these shores. So, as Moyes approaches 250 wins, it’s time to finally appreciate the old faces. They’ve been around a while, but that is part of their brilliance.