Hindsight is a wonderful thing, not least in the world of football, and in the case of David Moyes there are plenty of people who are eating their words about the former Manchester United manager.
How times have changed since Moyes was unceremoniously sacked at Manchester United, flung out into the cold after less than a season, before winding his way through tough spells in Sociedad and Sunderland on the way to West Ham.
David Moyes and West Ham are flying high after a dream start to the Premier League season
Moyes’ West Ham have won three games on the spin and now host Manchester United next
Even there, it hasn’t been plain sailing… they let him go once, but sense seems to have prevailed and now, almost a year on from the start of his second stint in charge, West Ham look much-improved and are flying high.
In fact, there are reports swirling that Moyes is set to be offered a new deal in the coming weeks, with the Hammers hierarchy well-and-truly learning their mistakes from the last time they let him go.
It has been a long six-and-a-half years since he was given the boot at United, but finally Moyes looks like he is building his reputation back up to the levels of his days at Everton.
In 2013, as he strolled around the pitch at Goodison Park for one final time, fans held banners reading ‘Goodbye and Good luck’, and ‘Thanks for the memories’.
He had been hand-picked by Sir Alex Ferguson to be his successor in the United dugout, handing over the keys to his office, and he left Everton with plenty of well-wishers. In modern football, it is rare to see a manager leave his post with any sort of affection.
But onto Old Trafford he went, trying to follow in the footsteps of Ferguson – a task that we now know has been near-impossible to manage.
Many have tried, with Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all giving it a go with mixed results.
Moyes has come a long way from his failed spell as manager at Old Trafford back in 2013-14
Ed Woodward (left) pulled the trigger and sacked Moyes after less than a season in charge
Moyes was the first, and therefore perhaps treated the most harshly by both fans and the media. But as we look back, almost seven years on, it is fair to conclude that perhaps we were harsh in our opinions, and that actually the problem was as much Manchester United as it was Moyes.
The truth is, he needed time. And at Old Trafford, you just don’t get it.
Moyes lasted 51 games before getting the boot. Next up was Van Gaal, and he was given 103 before being chucked out himself. Mourinho? Well he got 144, as the number keeps rising with each passing boss.
Perhaps there is now a realisation, with Solskjaer at the helm, that there is no quick fix. There is no instant return to the success felt under Ferguson, and it is impossible for a new manager to *be* Fergie.
Even Ed Woodward, the hire and fire extraordinaire at Old Trafford, would perhaps feel that Moyes’ time at the helm was brought to an end too soon, and in truth had he been given the amount of games that those after him were given, things could have ended more successfully.
Others, like Jose Mourinho (centre) have also come and gone since Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the next United manager clinging onto his job amid a difficult period
MOYES VS UNITED SINCE HIS SACKING
LOST 3-1 with Sunderland, Dec 2016
LOST 3-0 with Sunderland, April 2017
DREW 0-0 with West Ham, May 2018
DREW 1-1 with West Ham, July 2020
The last time Moyes beat Manchester United was in 2012 with Everton, a 1-0 win on the opening day of the 2012-13 Premier League season. Marouane Fellaini scored the only goal.
Moyes will be well aware of the irony as he leads his West Ham team into battle against United this year. He is just entering another season at the London Stadium, something he famously didn’t get at United, and things are going incredibly well.
West Ham are enjoying their best start to a Premier League season in five years, their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa taking them to fifth in the table after three wins on the spin.
Moyes was the favourite in the Premier League sack race mere weeks ago, with pundits looking at the Hammers’ unfavourable run and judging that it wouldn’t be long before the Scotsman was once again flung out on his ear.
But instead, he has steadied the ship, brought the team together, and secured some brilliant results that not many would have expected.
October saw fixtures against Leicester, Tottenham, Man City and Liverpool, the two most in-form teams and last season’s top two, all in a row.
Getting anything from those games would have been impressive, but West Ham thrashed Leicester away from home, and got draws against Tottenham and City. They only lost to Liverpool courtesy of an 85th-minute Diogo Jota winner.
Moyes was loved at Everton but struggled when he arrived at Manchester United in 2013
Now, at West Ham, his managerial career is on track and he could be rewarded with a new deal
Most impressive, though, is their form since that late defeat at Anfield.
Far from burying their heads in the sand, they came out the other side and have since beaten Fulham, Sheffield United and Aston Villa in three on the spin.
Fans are now starting to believe in what Moyes is achieving, and the team will be full of confidence going into a game that the manager is sure to have underlined when the fixtures were released.
There is also the added hoodoo that he hasn’t managed to beat United since being sacked by them, with two heavy defeats while he was Sunderland boss followed up with a pair of draws with West Ham. What an opportunity this is to go one better and nick all three points.
Let’s pop back to the United camp, Moyes’ old haunting ground, for a moment and see the situation for Solskjaer.
His side head into Saturday evening’s fixture off the back of a disappointing Champions League defeat by Paris Saint-Germain that leaves next Tuesday’s game away to RB Leipzig firmly in the balance.
Ferguson was in charge at United for 27 years and his shoes have proved impossible to fill
A plane carrying a banner reading ‘Wrong One – Moyes Out’ is flown over Old Trafford in 2014
If they lose to West Ham, and then fail to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages after their game at Leipzig, Solskjaer’s time in charge is looking ever more precarious.
He will likely join Mourinho, Van Gaal and, of course, Moyes, on the Old Trafford scrapheap, a footnote in a forgettable part of the club’s history.
And so another man will come in, with Ferguson’s shadow still looming large over the club, the trophies from his 27-year tenure gleaming in the trophy cabinet.
The impossible job given to a different candidate, with Moyes’ name further forgotten. Not that he’ll mind much, if this upward trajectory at West Ham continues.