For all the acclaim that David Moyes has accumulated, his career must still seem bereft.
Merit is a welcome commodity, but football tends to remain traditional in valuing trophies and championships above all else. It will satisfy Moyes that he has spent more than a decade operating in the top-flight of English football, and that only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have served their clubs for longer than he has managed Everton. All the same, Manchester United and Arsenal can log the number of competitions won in that time, while Moyes is left only with a haul of admiration.
It is unreasonable to expect that a club of Everton's means is constantly among the sides vying for glory, so losing the 2009 FA Cup final to Chelsea will still rankle. In 11 seasons in the Barclay's Premier League, Moyes has led his side to eight top-10 finishes. There has been one Champions League campaign, two runs in the UEFA Cup and one qualification for the Europa League, but otherwise Moyes's work has been measured against Everton's financial struggles.
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Moyes is the club's best-paid employee, but nobody would rail against that distinction when he has employed a shrewd eye for talent and kept Everton among the leading clubs while resources for wages and transfer fees were constrained. The game has found ways to credit Moyes, winning the League Managers' Association's manager of the year award three times, which is a joint record.
Ferguson used his press conference last Friday to remind his players of the way Everton fought so doggedly and with such accomplishment at Old Trafford last season that they earned a 4-4 draw. The two points dropped, as Ferguson saw it, cost Manchester United the title. Moyes, like a number of his contemporaries, has been granted a place in the metaphorical queue of candidates to succeed Ferguson at United, although few have held their position for so long.
There is, though, a strange reluctance to offer Moyes the opportunity to lead one of the top six clubs. Although there are managerial reigns at Old Trafford and the Emirates, vacancies have arisen fairly regularly at Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool while Moyes has been operating so adroitly at Goodison. There might have been a consideration for local sensitivities in Liverpool's reluctance to offer Moyes the chance to work with a bigger budget and a greater chance of amassing glory, but Spurs and Chelsea ought to have given careful consideration to his worth.
There will always be a clamour at Chelsea for a return to the bullish triumphalism of Jose Mourinho's time at the club, and it is understandable that he and Roman Abramovich appear to be courting each other, but Moyes should still be a coveted manager. His long-time friend and former team-mate, Pat Nevin, has believed for some time that Moyes needs to move abroad – and the manager has often talked of Germany as being a potential new workplace – but no club has yet been convinced enough to offer him a job. That is short-sightedness in the extreme, and it seems an act of cruelty that Steve McClaren, who remains a figure of ridicule in England, has a Dutch title to his name.
It was possible to hear a plaintive note in Moyes's assertion in a BBC Scotland interview that he would like to one day manage Scotland, but only once his aspirations have been met. "At the moment, I'm ambitious to win things as manager of a league side," Moyes said. He is one of the best managers of his generation and it seems absurd that Moyes might be left without a list of honours to reflect that. The Scot might be a victim of vogue for appointing foreign coaches, and Everton are often depicted as a dour, pragmatic side. That stereotype is misguided, since Moyes tends to maximise his resources and such technically gifted players as James McFadden, Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic and have all thrived at the club.
There is time yet for Moyes to move into the very elite of the European game, but it requires a chairman to sift through the popular candidates of the day for the manager of true worth whose achievements deserve greater recognition.