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How The Peter Principle Can Help Sunderland

The dictionary definition of the 'Peter Principle' suggests that in an organisational hierarchy, every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence.

Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

"What’s this got to do with Sunlan, like?" I hear you all cry.

Well, Sunderland have already been beneficiaries of the Peter Principle this summer. At Manchester United, David Moyes became a very high profile victim of this theory.

With Everton, he had developed a reputation for producing teams who were well drilled and played fairly functional yet successful football. The Toffees took the occasional big scalp and usually beat teams below them and around them in the league - something we would kill for. His achievements are even more impressive when you consider the budget constraints he worked under. This was more than satisfactory for most Evertonians and despite a poor derby record most frustration was directed at Bill Kenwright rather than Moyes.

During his time at Manchester United, however, Moyes became a personification of the Peter Principle - at Old Trafford it was no longer acceptable to surrender possession to the opposition and hit them on them on the counter attack. During home games United fans expected to dominate possession and play high tempo attacking football, which was totally unsuitable to Moyes' preferred style of play. It was no coincidence that he actually enjoyed a degree of success on the road as United boss, winning ten and losing just four of his seventeen away league games in charge. However, on the whole his skill set was unsuitable for the Red Devils, and he eventually 'reached his level of incompetence'.

His skill set was similarly unsuitable at Real Sociedad, although it was refreshing to see a British manager challenge himself abroad.

Like Gary Neville at Valencia, Moyes struggled with the language barrier and became an unfortunate victim of many social media vines when he attempted to speak basic Spanish in a press conference.

Obviously, the Scotsman was very different from Gary Neville due to his experience in the game and the respect he commanded as a manager. However, due to a number of factors including struggling to adapt to a more intricate style of play expected in Spain, Moyes struggled to make an impact and left with a win percentage of just 28%.

The above may make depressing reading for Sunderland fans, but his failure in his last two jobs could prove to be our gain.

After failing at Real Sociedad and Manchester United, he will be determined to establish himself as one of Britain’s top managers and we have provided him with an ideal opportunity to do just that.

It is no secret that Sunderland are a classic "sleeping giant", with state of the art training facilities, a category one youth academy and a big stadium coupled with a huge, passionate fan base.

But a succession of reputable managers including Martin O’Neill and Dick Advocaat have failed to break the cycle of battling relegation every season. If Moyes could build a legacy on Wearside and establish the club in the top ten, his stock would rise significantly and prove that his time at Everton wasn’t just a one off.

Sunderland are also lucky to have a man with Moyes’s track record at the helm. During the drawn out speculation over Sam Allardyce’s future, there was a sense that the momentum of last season had evaporated.

Of course we remain three weeks behind in the transfer market, but the club shouldn’t really find long term continuity a problem. Like his predecessor, Moyes is renowned for his meticulous attention to detail in terms of scouting and match preparation.

In Michael Calvin’s book 'The Nowhere Men' he discusses Moyes’ 'secret room' at Everton which boasted an impressive range of data, covering everything from transfer strategy, to blueprints to desired starting elevens three years in the future.

The book also discusses his MOT test which the Scot uses when identifying transfer targets. Such tests include them matching specific criteria, and aims to accumulate fifty reports from up to twelve scouts.

Such attention to detail may be expected at a Premier League club, but after Sunderland’s scattergun approach to recruitment in recent years it is reassuring to know that our manager is so methodical.

So, while his previous failings cannot be ignored there are a number of reasons for Sunderland fans to be optimistic despite the recent upheaval at the club.

Indeed, on Saturday, the travelling red and white army embraced the dawn of a new era by singing his name throughout the 2-1 victory at Rotherham. Moyes may well have been a victim of the Peter Principle, but at this moment in time he is exactly what we need.

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