“A poor workman blames his tools” – a village elder type.
Over the past few years, David Moyes has perfected the art of blame deflection. He has attributed his atrocious managerial record since leaving Everton to a thousand and one reasons and factors seemingly beyond his control. The most bizarre part of this self-written fairy tale is his belief that people actually buy into what he says in any way – that his list of tired excuses actually holds any weight.
Moyes rattles off his self-absolving rhetoric with such conviction week on week, despite the fact that his blatantly obvious failings as a manager are being played out and witnesses by millions. It’s like he is swearing blindly to us that it’s sunny outside while we are all standing in the rain.
Sunderland fans must be in constant state of bewilderment while Real Sociedad fans watch on with relief and Man Utd fans recall their own personal Moyes induced nightmares. They know.
Moyes United reign will be remembered as one of the greatest “shit the bed” managerial stints the game has seen. Many of his quotes, faffs and slips will live on in infamy for a generation. Moyes still thinks taking the champions from 1st to 7th wasn’t tragic enough to deny him a second season at Old Trafford. He set records for breaking records at United, all of them the wrong kind – dismantling proud runs built over decades in a matter of months.
He even said “I wouldn’t have done anything different” in a startling interview with Claire Balding on BT Sport when recounting his time at United. “I would have only done it different if I’d known it was 10 months instead of 6 years.”
What does that even mean? Surely the idea is to do as well as possible as soon as possible in any managerial role? Is he saying he would have won more games if he knew he’d be gone after 10 months if he didn’t? My head hurts.
Recalling his idiocy at United is just a preamble to the current unique brand of Moyes sports psychology on show at Sunderland. Despite being taught some harsh lessons about the damage you can do to morale by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time; it seems Moyes has learned nothing at all.
Following Sunderland’s most recent defeat to West Brom, Moyes said: “I totally understand them. I’m a supporter myself, maybe if we had three points more we might be where people would expect us to be. But we are not that far away. A win would have taken us out of the relegation zone.”
So people expected Sunderland to struggle and that’s exactly what they are doing. God forbid you try to exceed expectations David. I’m sure the Sunderland board wouldn’t want you to do too well.
But all is not lost! A few new bodies in January could freshen things up; a chance to reenergise a wilting playing staff and embolden them for the fight ahead. Maybe not:
“I’d be kidding you on if I said the players we’re hoping to bring in this month are going to make a big difference because, first of all, we probably couldn’t get that level of player and, secondly, we probably wouldn’t have the finances to do that. To suggest that a player we might bring in would be making a big difference would not be correct.”
Can’t he hear himself? He’s hoping to bring in players this month, but knows already that those players won’t make a big difference? Stop me if I’m being Captain Obvious here….but why are you bringing them in at all David? Is he simply unaware of the damage his words can do? The negative seeds they can plant? Is he then Captain Oblivious? I refuse to believe he is that stupid.
Those quotes will certainly be music to the ears of Joleon Lescott. The veteran defender is fresh from an appalling spell in Greece and is probably low on confidence. He will be thrilled to hear that Moyes thinks he can’t sign any good players, and the ones he does sign won’t really make a difference. Being the sole arrival in the transfer window thus far means he is talking about you doesn’t it Joleon? Welcome aboard!
Is it any wonder Sunderland’s players look unmotivated and downtrodden every time they take to the pitch?
Moyes isn’t just depressingly defeatist about transfers either, as early as August, when quizzed about Sunderland’s probable struggles for the campaign ahead, he said:
“Well, they would probably be right because that’s where they’ve been every other year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change? I think it will be, I don’t think you can hide the facts, that will be the case, yes. People will be flat because they are hoping that something is going to dramatically change – it can’t dramatically change, it can’t.”
Are you inspired yet? A true leader of men. I’d follow you into the deepest darkest depths of hell….etc.
If some of you feel like leaping to the defence of a realist, then don’t. The above sentence in dramatic italics is a bonafide acceptance of failure just a few steps into a marathon. There’s getting off on the wrong foot and there is chopping off both feet and shoving them into your mouth…..which actually wouldn’t be a bad idea David.
It was an early and damning assessment of a squad that Moyes himself had just added nine players to. A rallying call it was not.
After the squad that Moyes built threw away a 2 goal lead to lose late on to Crystal Palace in September, he was clear about who was to blame:
“We need people to take responsibility. We need the players to have a level of responsibility that not everything is led by me or the staff.”
Asked if it was getting harder to play for the club given their constant struggles in the lower reaches, Moyes said:
“I don’t know if I’m the right man to ask. Maybe you should ask the people who have been in that situation for the last three or four years. Those people are probably better to ask that question to than me.”
He’s not even responsible for answering his own questions now. Even the shadiest buck passing crooked politicians would be embarrassed by that one.
When Sunderland were spanked 1-3 at home by Stoke City, central defender Papy Djilobodji came in for some heavy criticism.
“There’s some of the games he’s found difficult but at the moment we don’t have a lot of other resources,” Moyes pointed out. “But I thought he stuck at it.”
So Papy, Moyes thought you were a bit crap, but he couldn’t play anyone else instead. But hey, you stuck at it, like a dog trying to take dental floss out of its arse. Moyes signed the 27 year old for £8m from Chelsea last summer. The Blues paid £3m for him the summer before and never played him…….once. Business.
Just in case the casual observer thought Papy might have had a rare off day, Moyes was quick to help them fill in the blanks:
“There are moments I’ve seen in Papy in other games as well which maybe haven’t been as noticeable.”
It would be a genuine shock if Moyes lasts beyond the end of February now. He is close to completing a hattrick of managerial failures. Three successive tenures killed by quotes? Maybe.
What is clear is that Sunderland’s on the field woes have been exasperated by Moyes inability to instil a sense of collective purpose among his players and Sunderland’s fans. His words have been divisive, Ill-timed and hugely pessimistic.
Worst of all they are an attempt to circumvent any blame that might come his way. His refusal to accept any responsibility for his team’s plight will strip any sympathy away from his eventual dismissal. Quite right too.
by Simon Winter