David Moyes has spoken publicly for the first time about his departure from Sunderland. He really shouldn’t have bothered (speaking; not departing).
Virtually every manager issues a non est mea culpa after using the egress; which seems reasonable as they are usually looking for another job. You’d do it too.
Moyes’ comments did not match the deluded ranting of the bullying Di Canio (pretending he bore no responsibility for signing rubbish and blaming everyone else in sight). Nor did he match Steve Bruce’s “I was only sacked because I’m a Geordie” fantasy.
But it was still pretty thin stuff from Moyes and it can’t go unchallenged.
Sunderland didn’t have a brilliant season before the Scotsman arrived. They had finished fourth bottom and Sam Allardyce’s departure did the club no favours, leaving his successor with little time to sign players.
Nevertheless, there had only been one defeat in the previous 11 matches. Manchester United and Chelsea had been beaten in 2016, while points were also wrung out of Arsenal and Liverpool.
All was not perfect. But you would need to be a repeated spouter of gibberish and possibly a bit of a thicko to imagine that, say, Antonio Conte wouldn’t have kept Sunderland up.
“You could have put Conte in there and he wouldn’t have kept Sunderland up either,” said the four-times relegated, honest ‘Arry Redknapp in May.
It’s easy to say and obviously hypothetical; but unlike Moyes or Redknapp, Allardyce would have kept Sunderland up, so it’s difficult to see why Conte could not have done the same.
Moyes is not dumb, but you can see why he claims to agree with Redknapp’s ludicrous assertion. He’s exonerating himself. Again.
However, it’s his comments about a lack of funds that are most difficult to take seriously.
He said: “I wouldn’t have taken the job had I known the extent of the financial problems and maybe it was my job to do better due diligence.”
He didn’t need to be hugely diligent. The club’s debts were never a secret. Yet around £35m was still spent during Moyes’ tenure, on a string of mainly duds.
That figure does not include salaries. As a minimum we would be more than interested to know what David’s Everton mate Joleon Lescott received in return for his “contribution.”
For all his faults, Wahbi Khazri should have been used more last season.
Yet a player who on a good day can turn a game was usually omitted to accommodate Jason Denayer: a player who never will. Denayer was perhaps the most nondescript Sunderland player of the last decade.
Denayer’s plodding also made the non-signing of the there-on-a-plate Yann M’Vila all the more bewildering.
I’ll admit to being glad to see the back of Khazri. His recent “effort” at Barnsley was one disgrace too many. We can easily imagine why Moyes had a problem with him.
But what was there to lose by using him more last season: other than the 26 games that were lost anyway? It wouldn’t have saved Sunderland, but it might have helped.
Any argument the manager had against Khazri’s attitude was weakened by his recruitment of model professionals like Lescott, Adnan Januzaj, Darron Gibson, Victor Anichebe and Steven Pienaar, old muckers one and all, plus Papy Djilobodji.
(Anichebe was unfit and overweight when he arrived. He hadn’t trained because he hadn’t been with any club. Why this prevents a professional footballer from training was never explained.)
Then there was the almost pathological negativity of the man. Moyes virtually declared after just two games that Sunderland were doomed.
In January he ended a cup tie against Burnley with three centre-backs to hang onto an excruciating goalless draw. He then bolstered the confidence of the players remaining on the bench by saying that they were even less capable of scoring goal.
He also described the potential of January signings as “limited with a big L.” This thereby achieved the extraordinary feat of undermining the confidence of players who haven’t even joined the club yet.
Excuses to protect his reputation seemed to take precedence over instilling belief and actually winning football matches.
Doom. Gloom. Woe. Despondency. Confidence hoovering. Demotivation. They were all his specialised subjects.
What do you suppose he does as a party piece? Embalming?
On May 24 this column called for Moyes to resign and I credit him for doing so without a pay-off. I also said that it was ridiculous to blame him for everything; and his post-Sunderland conduct has been dignity itself compared to that of Di Canio and Bruce.
But Moyes still has much to answer for and did a damn bad job. He could retrieve a good deal of respect if he could only admit it.
Still, it’s all in the past now. Mercifully.