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David Moyes Interview

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Under the leadership of David Moyes, Everton have found consistent success and a place among the biggest clubs in the country. Yet they have a fraction of the resources. What’s the secret to exceeding expectations on a budget?


interview: Sue mccann

photography: Richard Gleed


Q You were still a player when you got your first management job, but you certainly weren’t unprepared. How important was that?


A I had made a real effort to get out there and improve myself. I qualified as a coach when I was about 23 years old, but continued to attend coaching courses for several years after that. I enjoyed the learning experience, which came as much from being around people in the football industry as the courses themselves. While it wasn’t necessary, I took both the Scottish and English qualifications to show that I could be a coach in both countries. Initially, I completed the courses to become a better player, but I always hoped that one day I would be a manager and I thought I could get myself noticed. As well as equipping me with the necessary skills for the job, the courses were excellent networking opportunities. Preparation is absolutely essential. When your first chance at management comes along you are judged very quickly. Lose the first six games and you could be out of a job. It’s important to be prepared so you can get off to a good start.


Q Have you always been immersed in, and dedicated to, football?


A It has always been my hobby as well as my profession. Ahead of the World Cup in France in 1998, I wrote to a few national sides to request access to their training sessions; I wanted to observe different coaching methods. Only Scotland said yes, but I travelled to France anyway to watch some matches, see the different styles of play and learn. I have gone on to do similar things since then. The Scottish Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association both helped me out during a period when finances were a bit tight, and I’ll always be thankful for their help.


Q You’ve been in management for ten years. How have you adapted your style since the early days?


A As a player, I used to take notes on any training sessions or drills that I enjoyed. I still look back at them today. Since then, things have changed – the profile of the game, the longevity of managers – but the same principles of coaching can still be adjusted and applied to the modern game. One of the biggest challenges for a manager today is leading a team of players from all over the world. You have to adapt your management style, and respect the needs of foreign players as they try to fit into an unfamiliar culture and practices. Over the years, I have become more relaxed and less intense as a manager. I think that transition comes with confidence and experience.


Q How important is the relationship between a manager and the board?


A The manager’s relationship with his chairman is probably the most important of all. You need someone who can support and work with you, not someone who gets too high when you win and too low when you lose. I have been very fortunate; my chairman at Preston set a great example to me, and at Everton I have been allowed to get on with my job. Interference from club chairmen and owners has become a real problem for some managers. My advice to aspiring young managers is to interview the chairman, rather than let him interview you.


Q You battled relegation in your second season as Everton manager, but the board stuck by you…


A The chairman and I knew we needed to turn the club around. I wanted to bring in some younger players, and that was always going to create a period of instability. We had one bad season, but I never felt that my job was under threat during that time. It’s not easy to read and hear speculation that you might lose your job, but at times it’s just part and parcel of this business. I have learned that even the best managers have to face bad times. If a World Cup winner like Luiz Felipe Scolari can lose his job after less than seven months, then we are all susceptible.


Q You’ve consistently challenged the big four clubs, despite having comparatively modest spending power. What’s your secret?


A We’ve worked hard at Everton to make the right recruitment decisions. Like the majority of football managers, I have limited resources, so I look for value for money and try to get the best out of what I have. When I first came to the club, I knew that there wouldn’t be much money available, so I simply asked to be allowed to develop the team. The board agreed and the result has been a period of stability and growth. Probably the biggest thrill I have had was taking Everton into the Champions League qualifiers. Every year people say it can’t be done, but I felt, and still feel, determined to prove them wrong. When Everton managed to break in with a modest budget it showed that money isn’t everything. If you work hard enough and enjoy a little luck, there are other ways of achieving success.


Q Success raises expectations. How do you deal with that?


A It’s a manager’s job to raise expectations, as it means you’re doing well. Expectations have risen at Everton over the last five or six years and I see this as progress. Realistically though, other clubs have greater financial backing than we do, and this has to temper our expectations.


Q How would you describe your management style?


A Whether in football or any business sector, as a manager you have to believe in your own ability and be able to convey your ideas to your team. It is important to recognise and embrace change and adapt your approach accordingly. I believe in ongoing self-development and am always on the lookout for any new training methods, tactics or techniques that could give my team the edge in football’s competitive marketplace. I never take my position as Everton manager for granted. As well as reviewing my team’s performance following a game, I assess my own. I examine the decisions I made and then try to learn from that.


Q How do you get a team to work at their best – is it about fear, respect, pride or friendship?


A Giving the players a framework of all of those things breeds team spirit. I respect the players and expect it back from them in return. We have pride in ourselves and how we do our jobs, and try to be disciplined and controlled, while showing the supporters that we are playing for them. Friendship comes from winning and from mutual respect. We have a low turnover of players, partly because of our business model. We don’t break the bank on wages or expensive players, but we do well with what we have and we reward that success. The team will always be more important than any individual.


From The Manager Magazine

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