What’s happened to David Moyes?

Remember when David Moyes was cool? When he was tipped to be the ‘next big thing’ in football management?

If you’re new to the Premier League, you could be forgiven for scoffing at any suggestion that Moyes once inspired optimism and even success.

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Young, wild and free – Moyes in his heady hey-day at Everton. Image credit: Jason Gulledge (via Flickr)

But here’s a stat for the doubters. He has been awarded the third most ‘Manager of the Month’ awards in the Premier League’s history, after Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. Unbelievable, I know.

Now, in the apocalyptic landscape of 2017, David Moyes is just another victim of our changing world order. He has become a miserable, browbeaten pessimist. From the start of this season, he has told fans that things ‘can’t dramatically change’ and they should expect another relegation catfight.

And to confound his perpetual misery, his recent comments to a BBC reporter paint him in a rather bad light. It may just be the manifestation of the massive pressure he is under, but you can’t help thinking he should – as a Premier League manager – handle it better.

Can Moyes perform an Easter miracle to resurrect the Black Cats’ season?

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Arsene Wenger can do nothing right

Things change when you start to lose. It’s like the ground gives way beneath you and you can do nothing to reverse the slide. And for a football manager, decisions you make always seem to be wrong.

I’ve always been a great Arsene Wenger admirer. And I still am. I acknowledge that now might be a good time for him to move on, but it must be his own decision. And it must be when the board are ready for him to leave, with a suitable successor in place (and ‘suitable successor’ absolutely does not include Diego Simeone – a good manager, but it’d be like asking Stephen Hawking to write a poetry collection: Wenger and Simeone come from two very different schools of thought).

In the meantime, he is still there. And his achievements of the last 20 years still stand. But now, because it’s the ‘in thing’, he is criticised for any and every decision.

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We can’t attack Wenger’s legacy because his side have had a rare slump. Image credit: Ronnie Macdonald (Flickr)

As a case in point, I switched on the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary for Arsenal’s game against Manchester City today. Martin Keown was criticising Wenger’s decision to bring on Olivier Giroud, citing Alex Iwobi as a ‘more mobile’ option.

Now I agree with the point in principle – but I can say with relative confidence that he would not have made that criticism if they were coming off the back of a 10 match unbeaten run. Decisions like that can’t be right or wrong. Who’s to say that Giroud won’t come on and score a spectacular scorpion kick?

Criticism mounts up in the same way that defeats do. The longer the losing run, the greater the scrutiny and the easier it is to pick things out for criticism. Even things which, for anyone else, might be deemed a stroke of genius.

But just because something’s fashionable, doesn’t mean it’s right. Look at the mullet. That was fashionable. And whilst criticising Wenger is in vogue for pundits everywhere, I still think we should be wary of going overboard.