On Sunday, West Ham United, gunning for a Champions League place, welcome Everton, who are still looking to secure their place in the Premier League next season and once again, Hammers boss David Moyes comes up against his former side.
Remarkably, nine years have now passed since the Scotsman left Goodison Park and in that time the Toffees have been unable to find a manager who was able to get them firing quite like he did. His career took a hit after his short tenure at Manchester United and then his brief taste of Spanish football with Real Sociedad, but Moyes has rebuilt his reputation in East London.
The West Ham fans can scarcely believe how much they have grown over the last three seasons - they are still in the hunt for the top four with eight games to go, although teams around them have games in hand. Even if they just miss out, there are so many positives for them moving forward and that is such a stark contrast to where his former club currently are.
Everton are a club in the Premier League with history, but haven’t done enough in the last two decades to justify their illustrious past. The last few years have been tough under Farhad Moshiri and the seven managers that have been in the hot seat since Moyes left Merseyside for Manchester have all come up short.
There have been coaches who came in and weren’t the right fit, such as Rafael Benitez who was up against it from the start when he arrived in the summer as a result of his history with rivals Liverpool. So when he was sacked in January, it didn’t come as a surprise because a large percentage of the fan base were against him and of course the results and performances were dreadful.
Roberto Martinez was decent at times, Marco Silva left the team in the relegation zone after a positive start and the less said about Big Sam’s tenure - the better.
Current boss Frank Lampard has an extremely difficult task on his hands to not only ensure they maintain their Premier League status but also to bring them back into a position to challenge for Europe. For all the failings of a the managers at Goodison Park in the last few years, they have also been let down by players and recruitment which needs to be fixed moving forward, although it will depend on which division the Toffees are in.
There is another cloud of uncertainty hanging over them regarding finances as it was reported that they have lost over £100 million in each of the last three seasons which is of course worrying for the supporters. While Everton have wasted millions of pounds, while Moyes has barely wasted a penny at West Ham, with Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal two impressive bargain buys.
The atmosphere at Goodison isn’t pretty and it is clear that there needs to be radical change across the board at the club for them to see significant improvements on the pitch, but with former boss Moyes succeeding down south, many supporters will be feeling that after the success he had with them, in hindsight he was irreplaceable.
What rubs salt into the wound is that the 58-year-old recently revealed that he came close to making a return to Everton before opting to return to West Ham after saying he was hurt from his first departure from the London Stadium. With Moyes still choosing to return to the Hammers over Everton, it further highlights the turmoil the club has found itself in and Moyes saw it wasn’t going to be an easy fix.
Many fans will be feeling that Moyes should have been targeted for a return long ago and Everton Blue Army shares those sentiments. Speaking to The Sportsman, they said: “In hindsight, looking at what he’s done at West Ham United, I think David Moyes may have been a good option to come back over Carlo Ancelotti or Rafa Benitez. He was apparently close, too. The only problem he’d have had is that our owner Farhad Moshiri wouldn’t have given him full control, which he has at West Ham.”
When the Toffees square up with their former boss on Sunday, the supporters will be witnessing first-hand the different trajectories that themselves and Moyes are heading in and they will be thinking about what might have been had he decided to come back. They would be in much safer hands, on the pitch at least.