After less than one season on Wearside, the Sunderland managerial merry go round continues. Moyes was summoned to London today for a meeting with owner, Ellis Short, where the manager offered his resignation. It was accepted and Sunderland will enter the summer in the same position they did when they were last relegated - on the lookout for a new manager.
I pursued the services of David Moyes for a considerable period prior to his appointment last summer, which makes the announcement of his departure difficult for everyone concerned.
Having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character.
In the days ahead we will take some time for reflection, and then focus on recruitment and pre-season as we prepare for our Championship campaign. We wish David well in the future.
Like most of the changes in the dugout at Sunderland, this has been justified. In fact, you could argue this has been the most warranted. David Moyes inherited a far more stable side than the likes of Sam Allardyce, Dick Advocaat or Gus Poyet but he couldn’t build upon it. The foundations were laid by a team that only lost four games in the second half of the 2015/16 season but Moyes failed to capitalise on any of the momentum surrounding Sunderland.
The recruitment was terrible, as Moyes showed little imagination in the transfer market. Yes, his budget was limited, but has-beens (Pienaar, Lescott), Manchester United reserves (Love, McNair, Januzaj) and anyone who played for him at Everton (Anichebe, Gibson, Oviedo) didn’t make him look like a manager who was spending wisely. Look no further than spending £8M on Papy Djilobodji, a player with little top level experience, as the replacement for Younes Kaboul’s leadership and ability. The only decent buy the Scot made was the signing of Didier Ndong, but even he was shoddily treated, when he was dropped for not possessing enough “Britishness.”
The poor treatment of players didn’t just end with Ndong. Despite Sunderland struggling for creativity, Wahbi Khazri was frozen out of the side for “not working hard enough and not keeping the ball well enough.” All while Fabio Borini & Adnan Januzaj displayed neither attribute. A first start for Khazri since October, in the recent home game against West Ham, only further served as embarrassment for Moyes, when Khazri put in one of the best individual displays in a red and white shirt this season.
It’s crazy to say it but a lot of this would have been forgiven had Moyes conducted himself better off the pitch. The warning signs were there in his first interview when he said he didn’t think he could have kept Sunderland up last season. After his second game in charge, a 2-1 home defeat to newly promoted Middlesbrough, he said his team were in a relegation battle. The tone was set and the positivity began to be drained from Wearside as Moyes constantly belittled his players, said no new players would improve the squad and gave fans little-to-no hope that he would turn things around. By the time he threatened to slap a reporter, it wasn’t surprising. It was clear that Moyes was cracking, this was just the most public and most vulgar sign of it.
This was clearly a man who had been burned by his last two jobs. Manchester United was clearly too high a level for Moyes and it left him humiliated, on one of the grandest footballing stages. Like most of us would do after such public shaming, he went soul searching and chose Spain to be the destination where he would try and find himself. Unfortunately, the only thing Moyes found out was that he was perhaps becoming yesterday’s man. It certainly looks that way and with his third Premier League job now at an end, it’s hard to see where he goes from here.
After today’s meeting - in the wake of this season’s 26th defeat away to Chelsea this weekend - Moyes was quote by the club’s website as saying:
I would like to thank Ellis Short and the Board for giving me the opportunity to manage Sunderland and the fans for always being so passionately supportive of their club.
I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion back to the Premier League.
It might feel rotten that it’s ended this way, despite it being the obvious conclusion but it gives Sunderland the chance to enter The Championship with optimism. This isn’t just Moyes departing, it’s hopefully the ghosts of this terrible season being exorcised. There’s definitely still issues to address with those above the manager but now there is a chance for hope. There’s an opportunity for a fresh approach, from a manager who see’s it as an honour to be in charge of Sunderland.
An honour which David Moyes constantly failed to recognise. He won’t be missed.