Tuesday 23 January 2018 / 11:07 PM

Sometimes The Grass Is Just Greener

Moyes v Martinez

When it was announced that David Moyes was the man to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United, it seemed there was a collective sigh all over the blue half of Merseyside. The general opinion was that Moyes, manager at Everton since 2002, had done very well with the Toffees, leading them to an average of 8th every season despite working with a shoestring budget.

When Moyes inevitably accepted the Man Utd job it was felt that Everton were likely to enter a transitional period under whichever new manager they managed to acquire. Common footballing opinion suggested that Moyes had vastly overachieved with the squad and resources he had available to him at Everton, and that it was unlikely that chairman Bill Kenwright would be able to hire a man capable of doing even a similar job to the departing Scot.

Even when Roberto Martinez took the Everton job, the prevailing public opinion was that Everton would have little hope of improving upon their league finishes under Moyes, with many thinking that a backward step was inevitable under Martinez; after all, the man had just been relegated with Wigan Athletic.

However, as we emerge from the second international break, Everton under Martinez are doing exceptionally well. Okay, they reside in 7th place following a loss to Man City two weeks ago, but their start to the season has been highly impressive. If we contrast Roberto Martinez’s performance with David Moyes’ woes – his United side languishing in 9th – we must ask the question: are Everton a better side with the Spaniard at the helm?

One thing’s for sure, they are better to watch. Brendan Rodgers is always the man credited with getting Swansea City to play with verve and aplomb, with an eye on entertaining and the ball on the floor, but ultimately, the groundwork for Swansea’s pretty football was almost singlehandedly laid down by Martinez during his stint in Wales’ second city. Martinez took his stylish football to Wigan with him, but unfortunately didn’t quite have the personnel to really assert his ideology on the Northwest club.

However, now that he’s at Everton, Martinez’s philosophy really seems to have come to fruition, and his attractive, possession-based football really is a joy to watch. It seems that the Everton players seem to be enjoying it too, and with a 9/10 partnership of Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, the sky really does seem to be the limit for this vibrant Everton side.

Under David Moyes, Everton did fairly well. However, the football was generally quite drab. As Man Utd fans may have noticed, Moyes is quite a defensive manager, and is far less likely to set up a side to score goals as he is to set up a side designed to concede as few as possible (although that clearly hasn’t been working of late). Everton fans may have enjoyed the stability they enjoyed under Moyes, but there’s no doubt that most Everton fans will be delighted that their side are finally starting to play some football worthy of the top flight.

One of the acid tests for the success of a manager is whether or not fans of the club would welcome back his predecessor with open arms. Whilst United fans would do everything in their power to bring back Sir Alex Ferguson, I think it’s a lot less likely that Everton fans would be jumping at the chance of a Moyes return to Goodison Park.

Sometimes, the grass is just greener, and Everton fans will no doubt be looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with their new gardener, Roberto Martinez. As for David Moyes, the Scotsman still has a job to do to convince his fans that he’s the man for the job, as Everton’s form this season indicates he won’t be needed back at Goodison Park anytime soon.

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About the author

Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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