David Moyes credentials are completely different from what one would expect one of Europe’s elite to be looking for. The Everton boss hasn’t managed on the continent, he hasn’t handled big budgets, dealt with superstars, won any major trophies, nor has he managed several top sides. While the likes of City, Chelsea and even Spurs chase managers who’s CVs are littered with Spanish, Italian and Portuguese clubs, United have gone for one whose spent the last 14 years in Deepdale and Goodison, the latter eleven year spell earning him his chance at Old Trafford.
It’s the longevity at Everton, the lack of spending money and the ability to get the best out of even somewhat mediocre players that’s no doubt attracted the United hierarchy. If United wanted a manager who would come in spend lots of money, bringing in big name stars, jettison the less ‘glamorous’ names in the side and then ride off into the sunset, probably with another trophy or two on his CV then no doubt we’d have pursued a sun kissed Jose Mourinho, or a expensively suited Carlo Ancelotti rather than a dour Scotsman. It seems many Reds are beginning to realise, after the initial underwhelming feel to Moyes’s appointment that the Everton boss is exactly what’s needed for not just the long run, but also the short term issues of working out which ‘fringe’ players are up to the job.
One player who’s gone from a mainstay to the fringes in the last few months is Tom Cleverley. The diminutive midfielder was a vital part of the United side during the first six months of the season but since February has barely warranted a look-in. Cleverley was being spoken of as the next big thing in English midfielders only several months ago, yet now his absence from the starting XI barely raises an eyebrow amongst Reds.
Cleverley hasn’t suddenly become a bad player, there’s just a number of factors which have contributed to his fall from favour. First of all is his fitness, the season seemed to catch up with Cleverley against Real Madrid and Chelsea to the point where in both games he looked pretty much dead on his feet in the early stages of the second half. Cleverley’s game relies on his energy and when that’s sapped from him, he suddenly begins to look very average. Another factor that’s prevented Cleverley from being a regular lately has been the use of Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones in midfield. Rooney’s days may or may not be numbered but his inconsistent showings in midfield have led to him being subbed almost regularly and it wouldn’t be a shock if should he stay the idea of using him in the middle is abandoned entirely. As for Jones, his performances at centre back will give Moyes something to think about should either Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic or Jonny Evans be unavailable, there’s also his use at right back to think about.
One reason more than any Cleverley should feel the Moyes taking over from Sir Alex, rather than a big name continental manager is the Scot’s ability to work with players arguably just below the very highest level and get the very best out of them.
Look at what he’s had to work with at Everton over the years and just how well he’s managed to do, many criticise his lack of a trophy but the Toffees have been on a shoe string and regularly finished in the top seven. Part of the reason for Everton’s success in the league has been Moyes ability to get the best from players. Mikel Arteta, Thomas Gravesen, Steven Pienaar, Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and even our former favourite Darron “Da G-Bomb” Gibson have enjoyed their best football under Moyes. The case of Pienaar is particularly relevant has he shone at Everton, left for Spurs where he struggled to make an impact then returned to Everton where he shone again.
Moyes seems to bring out the best in certain players and use their strengths in a way that benefits the entire team, while others can cover for their flaws. In the case of Cleverley Moyes may be able to work with him and find a role that perfectly suits his style of play, perhaps rather than alongside Michael Carrick, just ahead of him, yet more central than an attacking midfielder. We’ve seen Cleverley shine for United yet in some ways the jury is still out as to whether he’s actually good enough to be a regular for the Reds. If Moyes rates him then we could see Cleverley develop into the type of player he’s shown glimpses of being.